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Assembly Housing panel sets tentative forum date

Jan. 8 penciled-in for meeting with industry representatives

Posted: December 9, 2012 - 1:14am

The second meeting of the ad hoc Housing Committee formed by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly to organize a “workshop” for Assemblymembers to hear from industry representatives on how to foster the development of more housing in Juneau resulted in a tentative date, time and venue being agreed to for the forum.

Assemblymembers participating in the committee meeting concluded that Jan. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., in Centennial Hall’s Sheffield Ballroom 1, would be optimal for the Juneau Housing Issues and Strategies forum.

Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker, who indicated at several points in the meeting that he would like to see an early meeting date, said many of the people whose participation on the industry panels he has requested told him that they would be unavailable starting in mid-January.

“Talking to these folks, starting from Jan. 10 onward, people are going out of time to get some sunshine, or for other reasons,” Wanamaker said. “And they’re gone, essentially, spread out, until the beginning of February.”

While Wanamaker proposed a Jan. 5 meeting date, Assemblymember Jesse Kiehl said he would be out of town until that afternoon, and other members of the committee pointed to an email from City Manager Kim Kiefer with a list of days Sheffield Ballroom 1 is available that did not include Jan. 5.

The committee ultimately settled on Jan. 8, a Tuesday.

“I like the 8th, because I think the sooner the better,” Wanamaker assented.

Becker asked City Clerk Laurie Sica, sitting in on the meeting, to let members of the Assembly and Planning Commission know that “we are leaning toward the 8th, if we can get everyone to come, but there are some other choices.”

Panelists and other participants for the forum were also discussed. Prior to the meeting, Wanamaker reached out to industry professionals and individuals to ask them to participate in one of four panels, given over to financial and lending institutions, builders and developers, major land-owners, and real estate agents respectively.

Assemblymember Carlton Smith, who owns commercial real estate business The Carlton Smith Co., said he favors an inclusive approach to inviting prospective participants.

“Within a professional grouping … there is some sensitivity to who is the spokesperson for the industry,” said Smith. “It’s going to be perceived, whether you design it or not, that they’re going to be a company or two speaking for the industry. And so we just need to be sensitive to that.”

But Smith, Wanamaker, and the other two Assemblymembers participating in the meeting, Deputy Mayor Mary Becker and Assemblymember Jesse Kiehl, agreed that the size of the panels should be kept to four or five representatives if possible.

“We really can’t invite everybody in town,” said Becker at one point. “There’s a lot of good people, but we won’t be able to do that.”

Wanamaker suggested that other companies and individuals could submit white papers outlining their plans, obstacles they face and suggestions they have to the Assembly for review.

Smith took Wanamaker’s suggestion a step further and proposed that the meeting include a segment with an open microphone for people, including invited participants who are not panel members, to put in their observations for the record.

“The other people, will we be insensitive if we ask them to do open mic or a letter?” Becker asked at one point.

“I don’t think so,” Smith answered. “As long as we reach out to them.”

Becker ran down the list of companies and individuals who have been contacted to be panelists and agreed to participate, aided by Wanamaker, who made the initial contacts.

Representatives of three lenders have agreed to participate on that panel, Wanamaker said. They are Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, First Bank and Alaska Pacific Bank.

Developers who have agreed to be panelists are Triplette Construction, Coogan Construction, Bicknell Inc. and Building Professionals, Wanamaker continued.

Just two land-owners, Noel Grant and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, have responded that they will be panelists, according to Wanamaker.

For the Realtors, representatives from Powell Realty, Coldwell Banker, EXIT Realty and Re/Max have agreed to join the panel, Wanamaker said.

Becker said she will work to contact other prospective panelists and non-panel participants, while Kiehl said he will seek a written submission from the University of Alaska among the land-owners.

Smith also suggested having a panel of appraisers, to which the other committee members responded favorably, but potential participants for that panel were not discussed in detail. Smith said staff from the CBJ Assessor’s Office should be present as well, but there was no consensus on that proposal.

In response to a suggestion by Wanamaker that members of the Assembly and Planning Commission submit questions they would like panelists to address, Sica said she would contact them.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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