My family is new to Juneau. We moved here in June 2009. Some may think we haven't earned the right to speak out; others tell me that a newcomer's perspective is a good thing. What I know is that I've been coming to Juneau in person and in my thoughts for more than a decade. I feel I belong here and I love the beauty and glorious nature that abounds throughout the city. I love the fact that I am able to run a small business that relies on tourism, a truly wonderful resource with an inexhaustable supply of money. To keep it healthy, we need only effectively manage the things that bring tourists up here - our environment and wildlife.
We thought it would be easy. After all, Juneau is full of people who love the outdoors, appreciate its beauty and rely on tourism for their livelihoods. However, we have been surprised by some of the development in progress. Don't misunderstand, we are not against development, we are simply against devastating the beauty that is Juneau.
Coming from Phoenix, we had experience with the fallout from unrestricted development. We longed to get away from dense subdivisions, traffic jams, long commutes, over-crowded schools, and unsafe paying conditions. We were tired of the negative effect on property values and the additional taxes to fund infrastructure improvements for developments created without infrastructure contribution.
We were sure this couldn't happen in Juneau, but then saw lots clear-cut to the roadside, then built up with a density reminiscent of the unbridled development in Phoenix. There, developers are allowed to pretty much whatever they want, then take the profits and run - leaving the mess and infrastructure gaps to nearby residents and taxpayers.
If Juneau wishes to avoid these problems, we hope it will consider enforcing regulations requiring developers to minimize their impact on area appearance and noise levels, as well as holding developers at least partially responsible for the cost of infrastructure improvements required to support the denser population.
Shielding unsightly development from the roadside by green space will go a long way toward maintaining the quiet beauty that both Juneauites and tourists appreciate. Requiring developer infrastructure investment will place some of the cost burden where it belongs, with the profits realized by the developer.
We hope this happens before unfettered development destroys Juneau's beauty, which we love and which keeps tourism dollars flowing into our community.