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

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.

More

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:42

Murkowski: Stand with Alaskans and stand with Planned Parenthood

I appreciate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent decision to support repealing the Trump administration’s global gag rule. The global gag rule bans federal money for overseas family planning programs if the programs also provide abortion, or provide information about abortion. The global gag rule puts thousands of lives at risk, and Murkowski has rightly recognized that. I praise Murkowski, and want her to know that Alaskans stand with her in supporting access to family planning services. This means that we support Planned Parenthood, and we hope she will stand with us in the coming weeks by refusing to vote for any changes to the Affordable Care Act that include defunding Planned Parenthood.

Read more
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:42

Alaska editorial: The opioid issue

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

Read more
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:41

Expanding apprenticeship in rural Alaska

We are proud to announce a new statewide training initiative: the Alaska Maritime Apprenticeship Program. Over the past year, the Calista Corporation, in partnership with the state and federal government, has built a Registered Apprenticeship program to train Alaskans for careers on deck, in the engine room, and in the galley, earning both a salary and an industry-recognized credential. Working with a group of companies including Brice Marine and Yukon River Towing, we are expanding career and training opportunities for Alaskans in the maritime industry.

Read more
Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:40

Transboundary mining: Defending Alaska’s interests

It is a big week for Alaska’s capital city. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are in town to address the Alaska State Legislature, the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) Board of Directors, and all Alaskans. There are a number of issues on which the state of Alaska, including our elected decision makers at both the state and federal levels, can show unity. One of those critical issues is asking the U.S. federal government to defend Alaskan interests in the Alaska-British Columbia (B.C.) transboundary mining issue.

Read more

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING