Assembly to vote whether to extend Berkowitz's coronavirus emergency proclamation

Published: Apr. 12, 2020 at 9:36 PM AKDT
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Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s Emergency Proclamation, as well as his emergency orders relating to the COVID-19 pandemic end on April 14. On the agenda for the Anchorage Assembly, that same night is a resolution that would extend the proclamation, but not the orders, to Nov. 15. Assembly Members John Weddleton and Meg Zaletel plan on introducing an amendment to move that date to June 5, as well as some ordinances that would impact the Mayor’s hunker down order.

The first ordinance put forward by Zalatel, would require that homeless individuals seek shelter during the pandemic.

“The individuals experiencing homelessness are currently exempted from having to hunker down,” Zaletel said.

She said she introduced the ordinance after constituents had reached out to her about large gatherings of people not distancing themselves from each other, something the shelters enforce.

Weddleton has teamed up with Assembly Member Suzanne LaFrance to propose and ordinance that would allow businesses deemed non-critical to have more than one person on their premises to maintain the building and fill mail orders.

“We’re all doing mail-order like crazy because there’s stuff we need, so we’re doing it on Amazon,” Weddleton said. “So if mail order isn’t a problem, why not do it locally?”

Another ordinance on the agenda comes from the Office of Economic and Community Development. It proposes a 25% reduction of construction fees associated with title 21 and 23 as a way to encourage more construction.

“Construction is allowed, but we have a lot of unemployed, so if we can ramp up more construction, they can pull in, hire more people,” Weddleton said.

Zalatel added that the ordinance would be revenue-neutral because many people in the public works department that the fees would’ve paid for have been moved to the office of Emergency Management, which uses FEMA funds.

Both of the ordinances put forward by Zalatel and Weddleton seek to adjust the mayor’s emergency orders, however, they said it’s been unclear whether the power to change an emergency order is something the Assembly can do under the charter. Zaletel said she expects this to be cleared up before the next meeting.

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