Residents share suggestions about Juneau's future

150 comments sent to Planning Commission; comprehensive plan to be updated by September

Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2006

Imagine a Juneau light-rail system stretching from the Auke Bay ferry terminal to downtown, a city-mandated living wage and no-frills starter homes.

Sound off on the important issues at

These are just a few of about 150 comments brought to the attention of the Juneau Planning Commission in the last three months during the city's comprehensive plan update, Project Architect Susana Montana said. The city is expected to revise its plan by September. The last update was more than a decade ago.

Planners conducted public meetings seeking comments and suggestions for amendments to the primary document guiding development policies within the city, she said.

"Some are wish lists and others are very practical, but we have sought all comments," Montana said. "These were good, candid and heart-felt suggestions representing both rural and suburban neighborhoods."

People also shared thoughts about their most-valued resources or things that need fixing online and via mail, Montana said. Topics ranged from how to provide a balanced economy; sustainability; transportation; employment; affordable housing; traffic control; transit and trail needs and desires; and natural resource protection and recreational opportunities, among others, Montana said.

What ideas would you like to see the city carry out with its comprehensive plan?Respond at here...

• To make comments online, go to Click on comprehensive plan update link. Select "Public Comment Sheet."

• Mail comments to 155 S. Seward St., Juneau, AK 99801.

Some ideas: no cars, only walkable streets downtown; a space exclusively for local artisans and craft builders; a walkway from Auke Bay to the Mendenhall Valley; cross-country ski trails lit at night; sidewalks on Douglas Highway; and dog parks.

"We heard quite a bit about affordable housing," Montana said. "One person said the city could give gravel to people to build affordable housing because gravel is so expensive to ship in."

Housing comments included a suggestion for more affordable housing for low- and middle-income people; starter homes for young people; lower mill rates; a livable wage; more flexible codes; and putting housing above commercial spaces downtown.

"We want to make sure that all people have access to affordable housing," said Erin Walker-Tolles, administrator of the nonprofit advocacy group Housing First. "We have suggested zoning changes, tax credits and continued funding for local social service providers to help people with housing keep it and homeless get into housing."

Walker-Tolles said at least one member of the coalition has been to every meeting.

Staff members will meet with neighborhood associations and stakeholder groups at their monthly meetings over the spring and summer, Montana said.

"We want a lighted Nordic ski trail," said Greg Patz, a Juneau Nordic Ski Club member who lives in the Mendenhall Valley. "There are many people who enjoy cross-country skiing, but there are few groomed trails."

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