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Empire Editorial: More needed to fix Juneau's housing crisis

Posted: June 12, 2014 - 11:07pm

City leaders made a step toward improving Juneau’s affordable housing market Monday by approving the rezoning of 152 acres on Pederson Hill in Auke Bay.

It’s good to see a substantial residential construction project moving forward, but building 150 new homes on Pederson Hill over the next decade will only put a ding in Juneau’s housing needs when a it’s a dent that’s needed.

The Assembly is on the right path, but those 150 homes are needed now. By 2029, housing demands will again outweigh supply. If the Assembly can approve more developments on the same scale as the Pederson Hill development, real progress can be made.

Juneau won’t be able to build its way out of its affordable housing conundrum at this rate. Our city needs to get ahead of the problem; that means building more homes than individuals looking to purchase. Low availability keeps prices high. Flooding the market will keep costs down. You don’t need an ECON 101 class to know how supply and demand work. Putting new homes on the market at a quarter of a million dollars each also isn’t “affordable” by most people’s standards — even in Juneau.

According to 2012 housing assessment numbers compiled by the Juneau Economic Development Council, the city needs between 170 to 230 rental units and more than 500 homes for sale to meet current needs. That’s what Juneau needed in 2012. The situation hasn’t improved much since then.

The long-term solution is simple: The city needs to free up more land, as much as possible, and incentivize developers to build — now. Sell the land cheap, with stipulations it be developed within a certain period of time. And by affordable, we don’t mean starting at $250,000.

Juneau needs starter homes to attract and retain younger residents. Despite our population swelling to more than 33,000 citizens, the city has 300 fewer students in Juneau schools than it did in 2008. If people can’t afford to raise their families in Juneau, they won’t. And that’s a problem with an aging population.

The recent Pederson Hill development and the plan approved in October to build 75 rental units in West Juneau is a good start. Now the Assembly needs to capitalize on this forward progress and get ahead of the problem. Turn city land that’s not adding value to the community into much-needed homes for families.

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. Shannara
2316
Points
. Shannara 06/13/14 - 06:24 am
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Selling land never worked.

Selling land never worked. There have been no affording housing in over 3 decades ...

Haily George
1636
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Haily George 06/13/14 - 10:08 am
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5
Flooding the market hurts

Flooding the market hurts everyone.

"The city needs to free up more land, as much as possible, and incentivize developers to build — now. Sell the land cheap" Good grief! Why sell cheap land only to developers?

Juneau is plugged full today. We need sustainability and livability. People are not going to want to BUY a home in a town that sucks and right now for 6 months of the year we are packed full of tourists and people are becoming more and more frustrated.

I think a developer wrote the editorial.

"city land that’s not adding value to the community into much-needed homes for families"

"Public land" adds value to our community! Turning public lands into "private lands" simply locks it up. No Trespass, no fishing, no wide open spaces.....

I will say that Juneau could use a high-rise apartment building but we need to keep hands off our public lands.

Karl Ashenbrenner
3193
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Karl Ashenbrenner 06/13/14 - 02:33 pm
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As far

as I know and I might be wrong, this was private land rezoned for higher density i.e. more money in the developers pockets. Anyone that thinks this will bring more "affordable" housing is in my opinion delusional.

Janice Murphy
3438
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Janice Murphy 06/15/14 - 07:18 am
6
1
I can't find the name of the author

I would think that anyone who went to the trouble to write an opinion piece would at least sign it. We have to attach our names to just comments. I want to know which developer(s) are pushing for this move. Could someone tell me how much the latest rentals in Douglas are renting for (my old brain may be failing me now) but I believe I read that they were full almost immediately and the rents were $1,000 +/-. This was with subsidies to contractor. Gee, I really wish I became a contractor when I grew up. First you (as a special interest) get on the affordable housing board, or the assembly, just like many on the assembly and push and vote for your special interest. Methinks people had better start paying attention when they vote. You don't vote for someone just because you know them or have heard their name. They have to be scrutinized concerning their background, business interests and special interests (governor anyone)?

. Shannara
2316
Points
. Shannara 06/15/14 - 07:59 am
3
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That is a good point ... why

That is a good point ... why is JE hiding the author?

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