Hot topics dominate first Anchorage Assembly meeting of 2023

Mayor updates city on snowplowing progress, revised homelessness strategy, Assembly contract approval veto
Hot topics dominate first Anchorage Assembly meeting of 2023
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 7:58 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The agenda was packed, just like the chambers at Tuesday’s Anchorage Assembly meeting as Mayor Dave Bronson spoke about recent hot-button issues in the city, including snow removal and Anchorage’s homeless population.

The meeting began with Bronson providing an update on snow removal in the Anchorage area, an issue that has left some residents frustrated due to delays in getting roads cleared in a timely manner.

“Crews continue to work on hauling and widening efforts, currently the average is approximately 1,600 loads per day,” Bronson said. “Crews have hauled snow day and night for 25 days out of 30, taking only Christmas, New Years, and a couple other days off.”

Bronson also officially announced Tuesday that he’s directed his team to move forward with a plan to help ensure no one is left in the cold, verbally supporting the transition of the Golden Lion Hotel into low-income housing, a plan he had previously opposed.

“(We will) implement a plan that allows the former Golden Lion Hotel to be used in an efficient and legal manner that helps as many people as possible,” Bronson said. “I’m committed to working with our community partners and the Anchorage Assembly to quickly bring this resource online.”

There are still active discussions on the Girdwood housing development of Holtan Hills. That item on the agenda was voted to be postponed to the Feb. 7 meeting.

The Assembly also voted to override a mayoral veto of an ordinance requiring Assembly approval of contracts. The only votes to maintain the mayor’s veto came from Assembly members Kevin Cross, Jamie Allard and Randy Sulte.

“We also have a few interesting ballot propositions for the voters as well — there’s one dealing with the marijuana tax and there’s one dealing with the MOA trust fund, so I think those will be interesting ones for us to deliberate and decide if they’re good enough to send to the voters,” Assembly member Felix Rivera said.

The Assembly did not get to all items on bond proposals Tuesday night, instead opting to give residents more time for public testimony at the next Assembly meeting scheduled for Jan. 24, as the deadline for ballot propositions for the April municipal election is that same day.

Tuesday night also marked Allard’s last Assembly meeting as a member before she heads to Juneau to begin her new job in the state legislature.

“As I leave and take the oath of office in Juneau, I hope to continue to work with the Assembly to further what is good, what is responsible, and what is productive for our community and our great state,” Allard said.