No license to enter homes

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, January 23, 2005

I would like to make a comment on your article, "B&Bs stung by utility-fee hike," as published in the Juneau Empire on Jan. 17. This article addresses two issues, the application of a new City & Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Ordnance that requires homes with Mother-In-Law Apartments to have water meters installed and the use of water and sewer fees to raise a revenue for the CBJ.

It appears that officials of the CBJ have taken upon themselves to declare that they have a license to enter a home of an individual for the purpose of installing, reading, and maintaining water meters (CBJ Code 75.01.150). This authority does not exist for the residence of an individual that is a sacred place protected by "right of privacy clauses" that are found not only in the federal Constitution, but the Alaska Constitution as well. For an uninvited public official to enter into the residence of an individual is classified as a "search" and as such, said property entries requires the use of search warrants. The Supreme Court of the United States, on several occasions, has declared that it is an absurdity that an individual must surrender a constitutionally protected right in order to exercise another right. Everyone has the right to the use of waters of the state of Alaska even if it is provided by a utility service of CBJ.

In regard to the CBJ Assembly using the water and sewer fees to raise a revenue, several state supreme courts have ruled that such use of "fees" is unconstitutional. The people granted the state of Alaska and its municipal corporations the power of taxation to raise revenues. "Fees" for services are not taxes as said fees are used for the purpose of paying for services provided. According to your article, the present fees collected are sufficient for the maintenance and installation of water and sewer services for the CBJ and as such, there is no authority for an increase of said fees.

Are "B&Bs" licensed to do business? I believe so. "B&Bs" would be required to install water meters as they are not private homes.

Gordon Epperly


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