Homer City Council- April 12, 2021: Council moves to restrict motorized watercraft on public beaches

Apr 13, 2021

Homer City Council members: Donna Aderhold, Caroline Venuti, Heath Smith, Mayor Ken Castner, Storm Hansen-Cavasos, Rachel Lord and Joe Evensen
Credit City of Homer

At Monday night's meeting of the Committee of the Whole, City Manager Rob Dumouchel and Jan Keiser, Director of the Department of Public Works presented their Road Maintenance Financial Plan.  The plan details a method for assessing and authorizing City road improvements through the Homer Accelerated Road & Trails Fund. 
 

 During the regular meeting, the council passed a resolution accepting the plan.
 

The council also approved, $75,000 to replace city servers. They authorized the City to write an up to $150,000 grant for an ADA accessible entrance trail to Karen Hornaday Park and passed a resolution to support a Fairbanks group's plan for revising Alaska's administrative code with the intention of making pedestrians and cyclists safer on the road.
  Public comments were  almost all in support of Ordinance 21-23  which would restrict motorized watercraft from launching or landing on City-owned beaches.The ordinance was introduced and had its first reading on Monday night. It is scheduled for a second reading on April 26.
  Michael Hertzog and John Mosher presented to Council on Northern Edge Military Exercises scheduled for Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay, May 3rd through the 14th. According to Herzog and Mosher’s presentation, the joint operation takes place every other year engaging as many as 10,000 people and over 300 aircraft over 42,000 square miles.
 In response to public testimony opposing the exercise because of its potential damage to marine mammals and wildlife, Mosher said Northern Edge does often use sonar systems and live explosives but attempts to use them only in selected areas and said he will not know which specific methods they will use until the exercise begins.   
 Tim Dillon, Executive Director Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District presented to Council.According to Dillon, KPEDD spent the last year assisting businesses, individuals and municipalities with accessing COVID grant funding. Dillon says KPEDD facilitated about 198 million dollars coming to the Peninsula in relief funds from March 1, 2020 to now. 
 KPEDD has conducted thousands of surveys over the last several months. Dillon said their data show that top two reasons people leave the borough are family and cost of living. Dillion said lack of broadband has been identified as a major problem on the peninsula, also lack of public transportation, and  pre-K childcare.
  In response to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 pandemic, KPEDD has established a site to link people on the peninsula to employment, job training and scholarships. Check out the site at kenaipeninsulaworkforce.org. 
 In Mayor Ken Castner’s report to council, Castner announced that The City won a lawsuit on Friday in Alaska Supreme Court. The case, a matter of zoning brought by Frank Griswald of Homer, concerned the use of a conditional use permit. Castner said the decision depended upon there being a difference between a conditional use permit and a variance. AK Supreme Court decided for the City of Homer, that yes, a conditional use permit and variance are functionally the same thing.  
 The next meeting of the homer City Council is Monday, April 26, 6 p.m.