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Juneau's downtown dock will get a little more structure next summer under new vendor regulations approved by the Juneau Docks and Harbors Board on Thursday.
The board decided to cap the number of vendor sales permits at 11, provide a separate loading area for crew shuttles and build standardized booths. The board rejected a proposal to sell the best vendor spots to the highest bidder, opting instead to continue to rotate assignments. The minimum bid on a vendor permit will be $2,500, up from $1,500 last year.
"This year we'll be constructing vendor booths of the same size, in the same area to control sprawl," board Chairman Loren Gerhard said.
Last year, the city granted two tour-broker and nine vendor-sales permits, Gerhard said. Under the new regulations, the city will grant one type of permit so all vendors can sell different types of tours. Nonpermanent signs advertising tours and prices will be prohibited in loading zones.
In the past, Orca Enterprises salespeople have sold whale-watching tours outside next to a portable tripod, owner Carol Pitts said. Under the new regulations, Orca's salespeople will have a booth, a work space and protection from the rain. They also will be able to sell companion tours, she said.
"I think the imposed changes for this year are meant to improve things. We're very receptive to that happening and we're looking forward to being able to put people in a booth," she said.
Rotating the placements has eliminated the need for some vendors to camp out overnight to get a good spot, Pitts added.
Under the regulations, the port director determines where the vendors are placed. To start, Joe Graham plans to put vendors where they have been traditionally, he said.
Under the changes, the city will provide a separate loading area for crew shuttles outside existing loading zones and allow pre-sold tours in loading zones for the first hour after a ship arrives. Kirby Day, director of shoreside operations for Princess Cruises and Tours in Alaska, said the change should help ease congestion.
"Functionally, it helps move people a little quicker when you have limited space," he said.
Mireya Cordero, who operates two Crew International shuttles with her husband during the summer, said she was glad the Docks and Harbors Board didn't increase the cost of loading permits. She hopes the city will enforce rules about how and where drivers solicit passengers, she said.
"It doesn't matter if we are separated or together, the thing is to make the people obey the rules," she said. "It will maybe be better. We'll see because it's the first time."
The regulations next go to the Juneau Assembly for review and a public hearing. If the Assembly doesn't take action, they will go into effect.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.