Get serious about affordable housing

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I want to thank the dozens of people who called and e-mailed me about the letter I wrote about affordable housing (April 6). They believe, as do I, that the only affordable housing Juneau will get is during Christmas when people make ginger bread houses.

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In my letter, I wrote that the owner of a 7.5-acre plot behind McDonald's said he "could have built houses" on the parcel but building storage made much more sense. In December, the Planning Commission agreed with the developer's plan rather than other alternatives such as affordable housing.

I'm not talking about low-income housing but affordable housing. But Bruce Griggs, a partner in this development, makes this alternative sound dirty when it isn't. I read his letter of April 12, in which he allegedly sets the record straight. In many ways he did, but he also said some things that were untrue, such as "few trees will be removed" and that he will build around the trees. If you think this is true, walk in those woods and look at the 25-foot variance he asked for from the Planning Commission. The original variance was for 50 feet, and he's cutting it in half.

Griggs suggested I purchase one of the lots so I might achieve my objective, but quite frankly, I have several objectives. I want to point out that the powers that be talk about affordable housing but, when land is available, they bow to the developers. I also want to preserve the old-growth timber near our homes. Griggs said he would leave as many as possible; I don't believe him but only time will tell if this is the truth.

I also want to point out the change that will occur if there's a 25-foot variance at Jordan Creek, a recovering salmon-producing stream. This will ensure the creek will never recover.

Finally, I want to point out that by saying I can purchase one of the lots and build affordable housing, Griggs is confessing that affordable housing can be built there without any zoning change.

I still wonder why the city is letting this parcel of land go without asking hard questions related to affordable housing. Unless the policymakers get serious, we will be talking about affordable housing forever without any progress. We must begin asking hard questions or nothing will get done.

Gordon Jackson


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