Opponents campaign against Ketchikan jewelry store initiative

Critics say plan creates a 'hostile business environment'

Posted: Sunday, September 09, 2007

KETCHIKAN - Opponents of a ballot initiative to limit jewelry stores in Ketchikan have formed a political action committee and plan to campaign against the measure.

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"Our intention is to merely present our position and convey that we believe the ramifications of this ballot measure may have very detrimental effects," said Charles Edwardson, who heads Citizens for a Positive Economy.

"This initiative, in my opinion, is not about jewelry stores," Edwardson said. "What will be next? A petition against charter (fishing) men?"

Passing the initiative Oct. 2 would send a wrong message to the tourist industry and other businesses that Ketchikan had a "hostile business environment," he said.

Initiative proponent Charlie Arteaga said that initiative sponsor, Citizens for Ketchikan's Future, is concerned with how Ketchikan will look. There are too many jewelry stores downtown, he said.

"We can improve this community with appropriate planning," he said. "That is something that has lacked in this community for a number of years now. Our initiative attempts to address that."

The ballot initiative aims to limit Ketchikan jewelry stores from locating within 200 feet of each other. A jewelry store is defined as a business that displays jewelry in more than 40 percent of its display area. If the measure passed, existing jewelry stores would not be affected as long as they did not close for more than eight consecutive months.

Edwardson said Wednesday at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that he had a vested interest in the outcome of the initiative because about 45 percent of his contracting business is related to the tourist industry. He said he favored planning codes that set up restrictions on building heights, building widths and colors.

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