If the Juneau Assembly passes a new downtown loading-zone ordinance, parking on the water side of most of South Franklin Street before 11 a.m. could mean a $100 ticket.
"I am really concerned about informing the public that this is a really significant penalty," said City Manager Rod Swope. "Most people are used to getting a parking ticket for $20, and now they may find themselves getting a parking ticket of $100 in the new designated loading zone."
The proposed ordinance, aimed at reducing traffic congestion downtown, would establish commercial loading zones from 6 to 11 a.m. for large delivery trucks along the water side of most of South Franklin and Front streets. After 11 a.m., when the streets are more crowded, the areas would turn into regular parking, and unloading by large delivery trucks would be prohibited.
Delivery trucks would be fined $100 for unloading anywhere but regular designated loading areas after 11 a.m. The ordinance also applies to cab drivers, and prohibits them from making "flag stops" or picking up passengers anywhere on the state highway, which encompasses lower South Franklin to Thane Road.
The new ordinance takes its root from an early draft of the newly passed sidewalk ordinance. Among other provisions intended to ease downtown congestion, the draft sidewalk ordinance prohibited deliveries after 9 a.m. and taxi flag stops in downtown Juneau.
It prompted objections from downtown businesses and cabbies who said it was too restrictive. The Assembly opted to remove the loading-zone and taxi-stop parts of the ordinance and rework them. The proposed loading-zone ordinance is a result of that reworking process, Assembly members said.
"This is definitely a compromise," said Assembly member Ken Koelsch. "It's a much softer approach than what we were initially intending to do."
Jim Scholz, manager of Northland Services and president of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, said his company can make as many as 30 deliveries downtown in a day. He said the compromise was much better for his business than the original ordinance. He also encouraged the city to work more closely with the business community in the future.
"I think it's extremely important for the Assembly to have active involvement with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Association before they push ordinances that affect businesses downtown," Scholz said.
Alaska Knifeworks owner David Summers said he was satisfied with the compromise to the loading-zone ordinance.
"I'm very happy with the compromise that's been reached. I might have gone a little further in restriction," he said. "The overall key is enforcement, and I think we have a commitment from the police chief to do that."
The only unhappy parties are some cabbies who say their business will be limited if they can't make flag stops on South Franklin.
Limiting stops on South Franklin "would be very problematic. That whole area is a high flag point," said Shane Williams, with CABco.
Williams said that most cabbies agreed not to make flag stops on the state highway before the Goldbelt Hotel, but South Franklin is an area where tourists often flag cabs. He said generally it takes about 20 seconds to pick up a passenger.
The ordinance will be introduced at Monday's Assembly meeting, and will be up for public comment and adoption at the Assembly meeting on June 23.