Affordable living? Better fix that!

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2001

Once again the city of Juneau is cracking down on those social delinquents trying to avoid being assimilated into "The Real World." Yes, it is time to raise fees of those who live aboard their palatial, floating estates in the harbors of Juneau and Douglas! Unfortunately, we who claim sanctuary in the bastion of liquid solitude should have known better. As one of the few (in many minds, the only) remaining affordable housing options in the borough of Juneau, live-aboards are now being targeted for economic reform.

Fees have not been increased for 15 years and if you compare it to one of the hundreds of indexes on economic growth, inflation, relative strength to the yen, the sale of ice cream in Greenland, etc., it is time to ante up. Are live-aboards parasites creating a vacuum and a fiscal strain on the city budget or are politics just making the rounds in search of budget fluff and filler?

Contrary to the many urban legends about boat dwellers, most of us do not dump waste into the harbor, do have jobs (many of us professionals), only get rowdy on weekends (and always invite the neighbors), provide a 24-hour presence (security) to all the boats in the harbors and have chosen to live a less complicated and less "consumer-oriented" way of life. Those who live-aboard are part of a culture and a way of life that add color and economic growth to our surrounding community. We infuse the downtown with a consumer byproduct called cash and help keep it alive and safe year-round by spending our evenings in the able hands of local business owners.

In any case, Juneau needs an affordable alternative to an expensive housing market. All states subsidize housing to create affordable living opportunities. Keeping harbor and live-aboard fees low meets this need and also benefits all people who own boats or use the harbor access. Many community members have lived aboard at some point in their Juneau history.

A drastic increase in fees that affect boat dwellers and boat users is an irresponsible attack on a storied, free-spirited and simplistic way of life that makes us Alaskan.

Richmond Kelly

Douglas Harbor

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