City clamps down on camping along roads

Posted: Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Outdoor types can no longer set up their tents by the side of Juneau roads except where there are signs allowing them to -- and then for only 48 hours.

That's the gist of an ordinance passed by the Juneau Assembly at its Monday night meeting.

The measure is aimed primarily at an increasing number of campers and squatters in the North Douglas area and Thane Road, said assembly member Dwight Perkins.

``This isn't about regulating grandma and grandpa from Oklahoma. Some (campers) are there for the summer, and locals who jog there or live there are becoming increasingly uncomfortable and concerned,'' he said.

In addition to banning campers along public rights of way, the new ordinance also bans camping anyplace else on city land for more than 48 hours. The ordinance makes an exception to that time limit for recreational vehicle camping areas.

``We went to a lot of effort to establish the Thane campground last year,'' said Deputy Mayor John MacKinnon, referring to the new time restrictions in areas other than campgrounds. ``And I think most kids who go camping are only going overnight,'' he said.

The Fish Creek area has been hit with sanitation problems, said assembly member Jim Powell, himself a North Douglas resident. ``A lot of people hole up there.''

The assembly has been ``tightening up'' on the problem over the years, Powell said. ``And it's unfortunate that you have to crimp the majority's rights in order to get to the minority who are causing the problem.''

The ordinance does not apply to private or other official campgrounds.

The city boasts one camping area -- the Thane Road campground -- which opened last year and is being managed by the nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul Society. The state runs a campground at Eagle Beach. And the U.S. Forest Service manages campgrounds at Mendenhall Lake and Auke Village.

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