Want affordable housing? The answer given last December in the Juneau Empire was to make gingerbread houses. I laughed real hard at that because affordable housing has been a problem here since forever. It has been an issue since at least the 1960s and will be an issue again in the next election, even with the creation of the Housing Task Force.
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The Assembly should look at the 7.5-acre parcel behind Jordan Creek Office Condominiums and McDonald's, which will be clearcut next summer to make way for a large storage building. In a meeting with the Planning Committee staff last November, the owner of the parcel indicated it could have been used to build housing, but a storage building made more sense. The Planning Commission agreed with the developer in December, and the storage project is moving along.
How did the storage building become a higher priority than housing our residents? If you look at the area, dozens of homes could be built there near the bus routes, bike paths and airport, to house more than a hundred folks now looking for affordable housing.
The area is home of one of the last big stands of spruce and hemlock in the valley near Jordan Creek. Take a good look folks: The developer will be clearcutting the 7.5-acre plot next summer, making way for the building. Here again, the Planning Commission agrees with this clear cutting policy near Jordan Creek, which is one of the salmon streams that is still in recovery, but still a salmon producer. Duck Creek is about a mile away and also is in recovery. The developer is asking for a variance, already small (from 50 feet to 24), while more than 100 feet is required by state law if it is near a salmon-producing stream. We ask that of Native corporations, why not local developers?
Many of us would have been much happier if the land was used for affordable housing while keeping some of the large spruce. Unfortunately, this will only be done if the Assembly members adopt a clear policy committing themselves to affordable housing. If it does not, lots available such as this one will pass by and the only affordable housing will be gingerbread houses during the Christmas season.
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