In order to better understand the implications of the proposed flightseeing initiative that will be on this fall's local ballot, I read the city attorney's memorandum to the assembly on the same subject. For all those who have not read it, here are the highlights:
The initiative is poorly drafted and confusing. There are conflicting definitions of ``flights'' and ``tourist flights'' which make it difficult to understand which companies and which flights are subject to the limitations of the initiative. The practical implementation of the initiative would be cumbersome, intrusive and subject to litigation.
The initiative crosses into issues that are clearly subject to the FAA's authority, not local government. If the initiative were to pass, the FAA could cut up to $20 million of discretionary grants to the Juneau Airport.
This opinion may be quickly obtained on the Internet for anyone interested in reading the entire document with attachments.
In addition to the legal problems and possible loss of funding, I believe that the initiative goes too far in its impact on local helicopter and air service businesses. While the daily time limitation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. may sound reasonable to some, it effectively precludes tours like the Taku Lodge salmon bake that is most popular for dinner. It would mean the glacier tours in which visitors get to land and walk or hike on the ice would have to quit well in advance of 5 p.m. to get those visitors back to base by curfew. It means that passengers on ships that don't arrive until 11 a.m. only have a relatively short window for passengers to go on flightseeing trips. Obviously the bar on Saturday flights would also have a major impact on the businesses which have very high overhead and short season to recover those costs.
When I balance the noise of flightseeing against the significant adverse impact on my friends and neighbors who own or are employed the businesses that operate the trips, I believe that the initiative simple goes too far in its limitations. That added to the problems in drafting and risk to FAA funds for our airport, provide plenty of reasons for me to vote against the initiative.
Reed R. Stoops
Juneau Empire ©2014. All Rights Reserved.