Bigger boats allowed on Auke Lake

Assembly removes 16-foot length limit; cuts $400k from public transit

In a close vote, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly removed the 16-foot length limit on vessels in Auke Lake and forbid flushing of motors in the lake.

Assembly members discussed the importance of enforcing a length limit versus only enforcing a speed limit.

“The safety issue of the larger boats has proven to be a non-issue,” assembly member Randy Wanamaker said. Speed, he said, is the most important thing to enforce to ensure safety on the lake.

Parks and Recreation Superintendent George Schaaf said the Auke Lake Task Force settled on a 16-foot boat length limit in the 1990s.

Resident Neil Atkinson addressed the Assembly against restricting motor flushing at the lake. He said he’s been flushing his jet boat’s motor at Auke Lake since 1979.

“If this gets passed, I will have no place to flush my boat,” he said.

He said he’d been stopped by police for flushing it at Twin Lakes.

Resident Mike Peterson spoke in support of keeping the length restriction intact “out of respect for the accident” that happened on the lake in 2012, when a 16-year-old girl died after her inner tube was hit by a jet ski operating on Auke Lake.

Auke Lake resident Dave Hanna, who said he is the longest-running resident of the lake, spoke in favor of removing the length restriction.

“To the best of my knowledge we’ve never had an issue with too big of boats on the lake,” he said.

He reminded the Assembly and Peterson that “the boat that came to the rescue (in the jet ski accident) was an 18-foot-long boat.”

In the end, the Assembly voted to remove the length restriction. The motion carried five to four, with assembly members Karen Crane, Loren Jones, Jesse Kiehl and Kate Troll voting against.

The Assembly unanimously adopted the 2014 Transit Development Plan, which will set “the course for any changes to the transit system that might take place in the next five years,” the city manager’s report stated. There are no financial implications of the development plan — projects included in the plan, such as the addition of a bus route on Riverside Drive, will be funded on a case-by-case basis.

The Assembly Committee of the Whole approved the transit plan at its March 10 meeting. At last week’s Assembly Finance Committee meeting, city manager Kim Kiefer proposed some decreases in frequency of the buses — a cut of $400,000 to Capital Transit — to help balance the city budget.

The Assembly also approved a land rezone that will permit Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies to build a secondary shelter on property that doesn’t currently allow multi-family residential development.

AWARE has grant funding to build a 12-unit residential facility to serve as a long-term shelter for victims of domestic violence that have left AWARE’s emergency shelter, according to the city manager’s report.

The Assembly unanimously approved a rezone of a 1.3-acre portion of a single lot in the Salmon Creek area along Glacier Highway from D5 to General Commercial to allow for the new facility. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the rezone at its Feb. 25 meeting and forwarded the request to the Assembly.

“The lot in question is large enough to support a multi-family residential building, is served by transit, and is within the Urban Service Area,” the manager’s report stated. “The property owner will subdivide the lot and sell the rezoned southwestern portion to AWARE, retaining the northeastern portion for future residential development at the existing D5 density.”

The Assembly also voted to allow Alaska Glacier Seafoods the temporary use of the city’s Auke Bay Loading Facility to help the company access its processing facility.

“Alaska Glacier Seafoods submitted a request to the Docks and Harbors Board to allow it temporary access through the ABLF while Alaska Glacier Seafoods works to improve access to and from its facility via Glacier Highway,” the manager’s report stated.

The Docks and Harbors Board approved the request at its Jan. 30 meeting, with a recommendation to the Assembly to allow the company access to the ABLF for up to three years.

“Hopefully it will result in a lot more seafood landings at AGS,” the company’s Greg Fisk told the Assembly.

The Assembly decided to protest the renewal of downtown’s Seong’s Sushi Bar’s liquor license because of unpaid city bills. The company owes outstanding sales tax returns and corresponding penalties and interest for a total amount of $28,982.60, according to the manager’s report.

Also at the meeting, Yaakoosgé Daakahídi High School student Penn Lamb was named an honorary mayor. Lamb shadowed Sanford for the day and sat with the Assembly during its meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, Sanford presented her with an award and a key to the city. Lamb was the third and final student named honorary mayor this year. The new Assembly program identifies outstanding students from each of the three high schools and gives them experience in city government.

“It’s definitely something more kids should be involved in,” Lamb said. She said most high schoolers don’t know much about city government. “I don’t think people my age know about that and how much work it takes to manage all of that.”

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.


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