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Juneau sets community values

Bike paths, recycling, housing included in wish list for Comprehensive Plan

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

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Want to bike to work or take the bus instead of cranking up the car? How about curbside recycling?

Those are just a few items on a citizens' wish list compiled by the city as part of its revised comprehensive plan, which was last updated in 1996.

The report lists what people say they'd like to see in the way of community improvements. It sets out Juneau's top "community values" to help guide officials as they revise the comprehensive plan.

Results were released Tuesday after months of survey work to determine what's important to the community and how policymakers should translate those values into action.

Here are main points the planners found:

• Provide a quality education from pre-school to university.

• Keep Juneau a safe place to raise a family.

• Provide a strong economy with good-paying jobs.

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• Preserve natural beauty.

• Protect streams and habitats.

• Maintain public access to nature.

• Maintain a small town sense of community.

"We wanted to actually measure those issues through a statistically valid survey," Community Development Director Dale Pernula said. "It was meant to help us determine what the goals and values of the community actually are."

Revising the comprehensive plan has been one of the main goals of the Juneau Assembly over the past year, Mayor Bruce Botelho said.

"We want to make sure that the plan accurately reflects the directions we want to go," he said. "It really becomes an overarching policy document.

"The comprehensive plan is really intended to lay out a framework for how we develop our land base and how we use our resources," he said.

The city will use the results from the survey to make sure that changes to the comprehensive plan are consistent with the values of Juneau people. The plan will undergo revisions over the next several months, Pernula said.

"The survey is a tool to help us understand the community values so we can draft these policies consistent with those values," he said.

Besides the more abstract values, people named several concrete things they'd like to see. They include, in order of importance:

• More affordable housing.

• Curbside pick-up of recyclable material.

• Sidewalks and bike paths connecting Juneau, Douglas and Auke Bay.

• Providing efficient roads and intersections.

• Improved express bus service to work and back between the Mendenhall Valley and downtown Juneau.

The information has helped officials make additions or alterations to the old comprehensive plan, Pernula said. For example, the survey process reinforced the common wisdom that people are highly concerned about affordable housing, he said.

Items have been added to address the issues such as higher-density homes on bus routes that would be more affordable, Pernula said.

Botelho said he was particularly pleased to see the importance the community has placed on curbside recycling.

The comprehensive plan update is a major undertaking, and there are still many months of work ahead before a final document is completed, he said.

"It is a time-consuming, tedious process but there is great benefit from taking our time, deliberating, and understanding in a very full sense the range of planning options," Botelho said.

The revised document must first go through the Juneau Planning Commission for approval before it is brought to the Assembly for final consideration, Pernula said.

"We have a tentative schedule right now, and some of our meetings for just reviewing the plans go through December," he said. "It's going to be a good six months before the thing is in final order."

• Contact Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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