February 15, 2000

The special meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission, held in the Assembly Chambers of the Municipal Building, was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chair Johan Dybdahl.


Commissioners present: Mike Bavard, Dan Bruce, Johan Dybdahl, Marshal Kendziorek, Mark Pusich, Merrill Sanford

Commissioners absent: Tracey Ricker, Jody Vick, Ken Williamson

A quorum was present.

Staff Present: Cheryl Easterwood, Community Development Director; Gary Gillette, CDD Planner


A. Sustainability

Staff report: CDD Planner Gary Gillette reviewed the staff report. A definition of sustainability is that sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The sustainability issue had two dimensions: meeting needs over time and meeting needs locally, regionally, and globally. A couple of new terms that have been used in planning circles are Smart Growth and Livable Communities. The basic underlying themes are very similar to sustainability in that it is desirable to have a healthy community but done in a manner which sustains economic values, is considerate of the environment, and is equitable for all citizens. This has been referred to as the three e's -- economy, environment, equity.

Mr. Gillette stated that the inclusion of the topic of sustainability in the 1996 Comprehensive Plan update and in the development of the Capital City Vision Project seems to indicate that Juneau citizens desire a sustainable future. The staff report included language from the 1996 Comp Plan on the topic of sustainability. Appendix C of the Comp Plan contained questions for evaluating sustainability and key indicators and measures.

This material was developed by community members from business, education and government, and citizens with general interest, who made up the group known as the Juneau Sustainable Community Roundtable. That group met for a couple of years to discuss and become educated on sustainability. At the Planning Commission's encouragement, the Roundtable developed the questions, indicators and measures to provide a framework for evaluating sustainable progress of the community. Traditional indicators tend to measure changes in certain parts of the community as if they were totally independent, whereas sustainable indicators take a more holistic approach and analyze inter-relationships of economical, environmental, and social aspects. Mr. Gillette said he obtained the Hart Tables from the Hart Environmental Data web site which shows the difference between traditional and sustainable indicators. The Juneau Economic Development Council's "The Capital Profile" provides measures of change and trends, but these are generally traditional indicators, primarily in the economic sector. The JEDC indicators need to be expanded to include sustainability criteria, although the latest issue has expanded the indicators somewhat to include the economic, environmental and social aspects.

Mr. Gillette said that in a recent article in the American Planning Association Journal the authors evaluated a sampling of comprehensive plans based on six principles that define the concept of sustainability: harmony with nature, livable built environments, place-based economy, equity, polluters pay, and responsible regionalism. They found that just because a comprehensive plan stated an intention to be sustainable didn't necessarily mean that it was any more sustainable than one that did not. In fact, the top-rated comprehensive plan of Jacksonville, Florida did not make such a statement, but in evaluating their different polices the authors felt it was the most sustainable plan of those they reviewed. The authors made the point that a goal should be to "narrow the gap between theory and practice." They also cautioned that "the path to sustainability is a long one with few quick fixes." Juneau's experience with the Roundtable showed that it was a lot of work, but it was valuable.

Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission continue to support the sustainable development concept as indicated in the 1996 Comprehensive Plan. Further, the Commission should encourage citizen participatory groups, such as the Juneau Sustainable Community Roundtable, to work on evaluating the policies and implementing actions of the Comprehensive Plan for sustainable development principles, review the indicators and measures, update those measures and indicators as necessary, and develop recommendations for tracking changes and trends in the community. In addition, it is recommended that the Juneau Sustainable Community Roundtable or other citizen participatory group bring to the Commission their results for consideration of the Comprehensive Plan update process envisioned for 2002.

Mr. Kendziorek said he would like the answers to the list of questions developed by the Juneau Sustainable Community Roundtable for the 1996 Comp Plan and to see how the questions and answers change over time. He also suggested adding to the recommendation a request that the Juneau Economic Development Council continue to incorporate sustainability indicators in their reports, along with their more traditional measures.

Mr. Pusich agreed that it would be nice to have some of the questions answered. He asked if the Roundtable would have to be re-established. Mr. Gillette said the Roundtable has not been very active, although it has been called together a couple of times to look at alternative transit proposals. Mr. Pusich asked if a commissioner was a member of the Roundtable. Mr. Gillette said no, it was an ad hoc group that included the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from various parts of the community. He added that it would be good if the Chamber, the Roundtable group, and the JEDC were able to get together.

Mr. Bavard recalled that once the Commission finished its work on the last Comp Plan it took a long time for the Assembly to review it. Ms. Easterwood said the Assembly reviewed the Comp Plan page by page. For the next Comp Plan update, it might be helpful to have an active Assembly liaison during the process so that the Assembly is kept up to speed so they do not have to duplicate the work of the Commission. She said the next Comp Plan update should be a complete update, something like the work done 1984. It would start with getting public input on values, visions, goals for the community, etc., and the process would take several years. Staff plans to begin looking for funding sources soon.

Mr. Dybdahl said that staff's recommendation appeared to be asking a citizen group to put in a lot of effort, much as the Roundtable group did for the 1996 Comp Plan (Appendix C). He said where the City is looking at tracking anything in the Comp Plan, if the principles of sustainability were used as one measure it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, the concept might get shelved again.

Mr. Bavard stated that it was hard to see where the information in Appendix C fit into the Comp Plan, and it wound up as an attachment. The thought was that the Comp Plan was a guiding document and more broad in nature, as opposed to having to answer a large number of specific questions on sustainability.

Mr. Dybdahl said that as the new Comp Plan is developed, it should be important to keep sustainability in mind as each aspect of the Plan is considered, rather than dealing with sustainability separately.

Mr. Kendziorek commented that if the questions posed in Appendix C are answered as part of the Comp Plan rewrite, the information would be helpful in developing the Comp Plan.

Public Testimony:

Nancy Waterman, 227 Gastineau Avenue, said she was a participant in the Juneau Sustainable Community Roundtable from its beginning. She thought the Roundtable should be a committee of the Planning Commission in order to go forward from this point. She drew attention to statistics in the JEDC's "Profile 2000" and said there are interesting trends that can be tracked over time. She also reviewed the measures developed by the Roundtable which the JEDC does not track. She agreed with staff's analysis and comments from commissioners about deciding which measures to follow and then making the commitment to track them long term. She felt the tracking work would not entail lots of hours.

Sitka wrote a comprehensive plan after the pulp mill closed there. Their public radio station will be dedicating a program over a six-week period to talk about individual indicators and the data and trends, and CBJ may want to look into what Sitka is doing. She thought that including a lot of public participation in decision-making contributes to a sustainable community. Juneau is at a level where it is possible to take the indicators and measurements into a functioning mode.

[Later in the meeting, Ms. Waterman stated that a representative from each of the Assembly advisory committees might be a way to pull together a roundtable where people would already be aware of issues and have access to data related to social services, energy, parks and recreation, etc. that could be used to implement some of the measures and indicators.]

Responding to a question from Mr. Kendziorek, Ms. Easterwood said the Planning Commission could establish a subcommittee to work on sustainability issues and could convene the Juneau Sustainable Community Roundtable.

Dave Hanna, 11495 Mendenhall Loop Road, praised Mr. Gillette's staff report for getting to the heart of the matter. He agreed with Ms. Waterman's comments and thought that sustainability was one of the most important things the City should be looking at in the next few years. He supported re-establishing the Roundtable in a formal way, although not necessarily as a subcommittee of the Planning Commission (might be too limiting). The Roundtable should be supported by the Commission, maybe by appointing two liaisons and providing staff support to take meeting minutes, etc. It would be good to have a bigger membership than normal subcommittees because of the work involved. The Mendenhall Watershed Partnership was created to maintain and enhance the ecological values of the watershed while maintaining the economic vitality, and its membership is a diverse and highly involved group. He felt a similar group of dedicated volunteers could be brought together for a Sustainable Roundtable. As the Commission looks forward to rewriting the Comp Plan, he would like attention given to several items: how it interacts with the potential for mass transit, how the Comp Plan will benefit the Airport (the most important transportation element in Juneau), how to intersperse development so there is responsible mixed use (don't segregate commercial away from residential areas), and look at more ways of increasing density in some neighborhoods.

Public testimony was closed.

Commission Action:

MOTION - by Mr. Kendziorek that the Planning Commission adopt staff's recommendation in the January 8, 2000 memorandum, and that the Juneau Economic Development Council be asked to incorporate, where possible, sustainability indicators along with their more traditional economic indicators and measures.

Mr. Bavard spoke in favor of the motion, saying that he agreed with staff's statement about looking at the next Comp Plan rewrite from scratch.

He also agreed with Mr. Hanna's comments in that the Commission has spent a lot of time discussing things like mass transit and increased density. He would be interested in looking at Sitka's comprehensive plan, as well.

Mr. Bruce expressed support for the motion. He stated that the sustainability issue points to conflicts the Commission is constantly faced with. For example, under the former Public Works Committee chair, there was a lot of emphasis on in-filling. However, the largest and most viable area to be in-filled in the Mendenhall Valley is the Peterson Hill area, and the Commission has heard a lot of public testimony about preserving that area for wildlife habitat and access. The concepts discussed in the staff report are so abstract that it would be nice to see objective valuations put into a sustainable analysis so people can see what it really means. One paragraph talks about the dimensions of the sustainability issue, but it appeared a little skewed in its focus on the holistic approach while ignoring Juneau being a part of the whole. You can't get to a healthy whole without having healthy parts. When does one favor the sustainability of a community like Juneau versus its perhaps negative impact on a larger picture, like the State of Alaska.

Mr. Kendziorek agreed with Mr. Bruce's comments about contradictions and pointed out that another example is the controversy about in-filling above the Douglas townsite where water and sewer services are available, yet some people do not want Douglas to grow and change.

Roll Call Vote

Ayes: Bavard, Bruce, Kendziorek, Pusich, Sanford, Dybdahl

Nays: None

The motion passed unanimously, 6-0.

B. Urban Service Boundary

Staff report: Ms. Easterwood reviewed the staff report, noting that an Urban Service Boundary is different than an Urban Growth Boundary. An Urban Growth Boundary is a line that contains growth, while an Urban Service Boundary is simply an area beyond which a jurisdiction will not provide basic urban services such as sewer and water, and will not provide public transit or invest its money in significant road improvements. The primary purpose of an Urban Service Boundary is usually to assure efficiency, predictability, and cost effectiveness in the delivery of public services and infrastructure. These limits on services often end up being a practical limit on the density and land use changes that might occur outside the Urban Service Boundary. Juneau established an Urban Service Boundary with the adoption of the 1984 Comprehensive Plan and reaffirmed it in the 1996 Comp Plan update when it adjusted the boundaries to include part of the Mendenhall Peninsula.

Ms. Easterwood reviewed how the CBJ has extended water service beyond the Urban Service Boundary and the plans to implement other water projects. She said that staff has not always mentioned the Urban Service Boundary when decisions were made to extend services. In the 1996 Comp Plan review, the Commission made a direct effort to underscore the commitment to the Urban Service Boundary and added language that utilities should not be extended beyond the 1995 point without a conscious decision to amend the Urban Service Boundary. She stated that staff will undertake a comparison of the Urban Service Boundary with a map of planned utility improvements and recommend boundary adjustments, if necessary, at a later Planning Commission meeting.

Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission retain its Urban Service Boundary as an important tool in meeting community objectives of compact development and predictable provision of services, and that the Commission actively seek to implement the concept of the Urban Service Boundary. Staff may recommend adjustments to the boundary lines following a closer look at the boundaries and present plans for utility extensions.

There was some discussion about where the funding came from to extend water services outside the Urban Service Boundary and whether the decisions to do so were politically related.

Mr. Kendziorek asked if the Urban Service Boundary could be amended at any time or only during the Comp Plan review process. Ms. Easterwood said that the Commission can make a recommendation to the Assembly to amend maps of the Comp Plan from time to time.

Ms. Sanford requested an update on where water and sewer services need to be built in order to fill in the urban area. Mr. Bruce commented that Steve Gilbertson should have that information because he gave a presentation on it to the Assembly Public Works Committee last fall.

Mr. Pusich stated that a joint CBJ-University of Alaska Southeast feasibility study is underway for developing the Peterson Hill area, and the report should be ready in about 45 days.

Public Testimony:

Nancy Waterman, 227 Gastineau Avenue, said that one indicator it would be interesting to have information about would be the CBJ cost per capita for basic public services, including sewer, water, storm drainage, transportation, fire protection, education, and police. She agreed with the need for an Urban Service Boundary and suggested thinking about breaking the boundary into components so that the boundary for water services might be different than the boundary for police service, etc. It might be complicated, but on the other hand it might be more useable. She mentioned the activity in the Lena Point area, with the bypass and CBJ land placed on the disposal list. She urged the City to be brave enough to enforce the Urban Service Boundary.

Like Mr. Sanford, she would like a map of areas within the existing Urban Service Boundary without water and sewer services, but it will also be interesting to see where outside the boundary those services are provided. In closing, she said she supported the CBJ having and using an Urban Service Boundary.

Dave Hanna, 11495 Mendenhall Loop Road, stated that he has been dismayed to see the CBJ extending water services farther and farther out the road when sewer services are not following. Water service was extended to Tee Harbor, meanwhile, North Douglas and Auke Bay do not have sewer service. Both the Mendenhall Peninsula and North Douglas cannot be developed very well because there is no sewer service. He would like pressure put on the Assembly to stick by the Urban Service Boundary. Another item is community transit: if the bus does not go farther out the road, people may not be as inclined to build denser housing. Also, the ferry terminal is not served by community transit. It would be nice to have better integration of urban services before sending little fingers of service outward and fragmenting development even more.

The chair closed public testimony.

There was a discussion about how to strengthen staff's recommendation to not only implement but enforce the concept of the Urban Service Boundary. There was also talk of continuing any action on this item until the Commission has more information; for example, a comparison of the Urban Service Boundary to the map of planned utility improvements. Mr. Dybdahl said he would like to be able to attach supporting data to the Commission's recommendation to the Assembly.

Mr. Sanford remarked that subcommittees work separately and sometimes make their decisions without all the pieces of pertinent information. All the parts should be brought together into a master plan so that areas of the city are not missed like they have been over the past ten years.

Commission Action:

MOTION - by Mr. Bruce to continue action on the Urban Service Boundary component of the CBJ Comprehensive Plan and consider rewording the recommendation to include other CBJ entities besides the Planning Commission with regard to implementation.

There being no objection, it was so ordered.

C. Airport Planning

Staff report: Ms. Easterwood reviewed the staff report. The Juneau International Airport recently completed its master planning process, and during that process a number of people, including the Mendenhall Watershed Partnership, wanted the Airport to look at the bigger picture (such as where should the Airport be located). The Airport Master Plan is essentially a development plan for the Airport, and the other questions were beyond the scope of that planning process.

The Airport had discussed with the Community Development Department whether or not the City could look at the concept of the airport, its location, and its role in the City, within the context of a Comprehensive Plan update. This is a good idea, however, it is beyond the scope of this Comp Plan review.

Staff recommendation: That it is appropriate for the CBJ to look at broad questions surrounding airport development within the context of the Comprehensive Plan. Staff also believes that such a review is beyond the scope of the current review process. Staff recommends that staff meet with Airport staff and the Airport Board to discuss future treatment of the Airport in broader planning efforts, and that the next Comprehensive Plan update, scheduled to occur in about two years, include consideration of Airport plans and future development.

Public Testimony:

Dave Hanna, 11495 Mendenhall Loop Road, said he concurred with most of staff's recommendation but did not advocate waiting two years. There are things happening now around the Airport that have special significance: the environmental assessment is being completed for the master plan, and considerable Airport expansion is being considered that could generate significant dollars for other work around the city because of wetland mitigation that would be required for airport work. There is a potential to acquire more land around the airport, specifically the Honsinger Pond and surrounding acreage. It may be possible to add acreage to the Mendenhall Game Refuge to make up for refuge lands that would be taken for the runway safety expansion. There is a potential to receive millions in Army Corps of Engineers dollars to restore parts of Duck Creek that could fix some of the drainage and flooding problems. It may be possible to coordinate the airport projects so the City's work provides the required match (through in-kind services) for the Duck Creek restoration work. Further, there are ordinary citizens studying problems around the airport, for example, whether Duck Creek and Jordan Creek should be merged at the lower reaches. It would be great if CDD could direct some staff attention to the airport area and lend support to other planning efforts taking place right now.

Mr. Kendziorek asked what Mr. Hanna would recommend. Mr. Hanna said that he would suggest CDD staff meet not only with the Airport Board but with all the interested groups, such as the Watershed Partnership, the Duck Creek Advisory Group, and development groups from around the airport, and chair some public meetings to discuss development potential around the airport.

Public testimony was closed.

Mr. Pusich observed that the public has had an opportunity to get involved in airport issues during the Airport Master Plan process. He wondered if there should be a facilitator to bring everyone together on the proposed airport development.

Mr. Bavard said he agreed with staff's recommendation to begin meeting with the Airport and then developing recommendations on which direction to take in the Comp Plan.

Mr. Sanford stated that it would be helpful for the commissioners to have a copy of the Airport Master Plan so they see the big picture in the context of the individual projects that will come before the Commission for permits.

Mr. Bruce said he agreed with Mr. Bavard's comment. Saying it was almost a jurisdictional issue, he observed that the Airport Board spent a lot of time developing the master plan, and the Commission's role is to address the Comprehensive Plan.

Commission Action:

MOTION - by Mr. Kendziorek to adopt staff's recommendation but modified to separate the last section into a new sentence, as follows:

That it is appropriate for the CBJ to look at broad questions surrounding airport development within the context of the Comprehensive Plan. Staff also believes that such a review is beyond the scope of the current review process. Staff recommends that staff meet with Airport staff and the Airport Board to discuss future treatment of the Airport in broader planning efforts. Staff also recommends that the next Comprehensive Plan update, scheduled to occur in about two years, include consideration of Airport plans and future development.

Mr. Kendziorek said by making two separate sentences out of the last sentence it makes clear that staff should meet with the Airport staff and the board now to discuss airport planning and not wait to do it as part of the next Comp Plan update.

Mr. Dybdahl agreed that the Planning Commission should address some of the issues now as opposed to waiting two years down the road.

There being no objection, the motion passed.


Ms. Easterwood reported that the Alaska chapter of the American Planning Association will be holding planning commissioner training in Anchorage on March 3 and 4, 2000. The department has budgeted to send two commissioners to Anchorage, if people are interested in the training topics. She asked commissioners to contact her. The consensus among commissioners was that the offer should be made first to commissioners who have not attended the training yet.

Regarding the National American Planning Association Conference in New York, she said there is money available in the budget to send one commissioner this year. A suggestion from commissioners was to provide funding for 1-1/2 commissioners to go to the national conference instead of sending two to the Anchorage training.


MOTION - by Mr. Bruce to adjourn. There being no other business and no objection, the meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m.