Advocating for Strategic, Future-Forward Anchorage Residential Zoning: Embracing John Weddleton’s ‘S’ Option over Destroying Residential Zoning.

Following is my testimony to the Anchorage Assembly regarding the AO2023-66 that would eliminate residential zoning and create two new hybrid landuse categories that includes housing on land with and without public water and sewer utilities.

I am opposed to the proposed changes to residential zoning codes. I support the new S option proposed by John Weddleton that offers a more strategic and productive path forward by starting with the “end-in-mind” of updating our long-term plans for the community. Within that process, an accelerated look at land-use and housing would be valuable and just as timely, and focused on the outcome, rather than opening us to another Baker type Site Condo mess of 20 years ago or the now abandoned approach in the Matsu of a wild west approach to development.

The current proposed approach is nothing short of another example of the current trend in ‘blow it all up” solution thinking that I don’t understand but acknowledge seems to be a strategy folks are attracted to over the process of improving what’s been done in the past and understanding the dynamics of change and unintended consequences in complex adaptive systems, such as community land use planning. 

As for housing, we need more community housing development organizations that break the stranglehold of the small oligarchy of developers and landlords otherwise, your revised zoning approach will only increase their control over development. Cook Inlet’s housing work is creative and exceptional. We need a couple more organizations like them at work, with community support. I was involved in the Portland community housing organization REACH and suggest you learn more about their work and work with others focused on the result you want.

Related to planning for the future, I would specifically highlight the work being done by Dr. Jen Schmidt at ISER in the area of community planning and resilience that is on the right path of identifying long-term critical uncertainties and developing adaptive community planning approaches to future plans. We have a draft set of future community scenarios related to climate change that will be brought to the muni planners and community stakeholders in the fall. Those scenarios touch on the underlying issue that the City must address of our stagnant economy and restructuring of the jobs and opportunities for the future, as well as the potential for our community to be climate change winners.

Let’s work on the possibilities for our communities future, not blow it up and see where the pieces fall. I’m afraid you are headed down another path in frustration and more years of slow fragmented efforts if you embark on dragging the community through the current AO residential changes; instead, let’s take the community forward and build their support and engagement in building the future community we want.




One response to “Advocating for Strategic, Future-Forward Anchorage Residential Zoning: Embracing John Weddleton’s ‘S’ Option over Destroying Residential Zoning.”

  1. Dixie Banner Avatar
    Dixie Banner

    First and foremost-Zoning is a must and the folks in Anchorage need to hire/elect folks who will protect and honor the voice of the people! The Assembly is still a mess!

    Homeless is an issue- get people off the street and put them to work and require the Native Corps to finance their share of the cost of care and rehab!

    Anchorage needs to prevent the trend that Portland is and has been experiencing! Renters are loosing ground (it is extremely expensive to rent and the concept of owning a home is nil to none).
    At least P has a growing and viable economy!

    Speaking of economics – we need more professional opportunities that pay a decent wage!
    Collectively Anchorage needs to work and collaborate with the Valley for 3/4 of the Valley lives in P/W and commute to town daily! It is not cheap to commute via time/gas, etc!

    We need to seek collaborate relationships with companies that offer remote opportunities so we can enhance/grow our economy and not to be totally dependent on the oil/gas industry!

    Anchorage as most know room for growth is limited, so planning needs to far more strategic vs at a whim like it has been for years!

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