CBJ discusses state budget impacts

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The CBJ Assembly could pass a resolution urging the state legislature to pass a balanced, sustainable, and predictable state fiscal plan.

    The CBJ in the past has approved three resolutions that addressed the state budget.  In July, 2016 the resolution approved urged the legislature to pass a balanced, sustainable and predictable state fiscal plan to help ensure long term fiscal stability for the citizens of the State of Alaska.

    In February, 2016, they approved a resolution that urged the legislature to adopt a balanced, sustainable, and predict state budget plan for the fiscal year 2017 and future years.

    In October, 2003, they approved a resolution to support legislation that mandates that fiscal notes considering the impact on local taxpayers be required for all State of Alaska legislation and administrative actions that could have impacts on school districts and local governments.

    The Parks and Recreation Master Plan was presented by Alexandra Pierce, Project Manager for Parks & Recreation.

    Highlights of the two-year effort included 500 phone surveys, 300 online surveys, meetings with other 30 stakeholder groups and 3,500 comments from residents.

    Expansion of senior facilities and new dog parks were among the more popular suggestions.  The study also talks about taking full advantage of the facilities they do have to expand opportunities.

    It also includes a study on public use and commercial use fees for area parks.

    Assembly member Loren Jones said he'd like to see more facilities to cater to winter time visitors and cruise ship visitors.  He also showed interest in joint use of school playgrounds for outdoor recreation.

    Pierce said fees for commercial use on trails have not been changed since 2001 and are in need of an update

    Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove gave a report on the invasion of scooters and e-bikes in the lower 48 and possible impacts here in Juneau.  A dockless device company drops off hundreds of scooters or bikes for public use.  They are set up within a geofenced area to limit the range of operation.  Users then download an app, pay a small unlock fee and then a per mile charge.  They are left where the last user wants to end their ride.  Devices are then picked up by community members who sign up to be contract chargers, recharged and then replaced somewhere within the geofenced area for further use.

    The CBJ said the bikes and devices can start to clutter sidewalks, rights of way and public spaces, impairs pedestrian access and creates safety concerns.

    Scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour and can be dangerous with users being thrown from the devices at high speeds.

    There are positives to the devices as well.  They can extend the comfortable range of pedestrian commutes, supplement transit routes by closing gaps in routes, helps to reduce automobile traffic and are perceived as a cleaner form of transportation than fuel burning alternatives.

    Cosgrove requested the Assembly be proactive and identify the policy concerns and conduct a risk-benefit analysis prior to dockless transportation entering the community.  They also requested support for the manager to create an ordinance that bans the commercial use of dockless transportation devices until the Assembly can fully consider the policy and operational concerns.

    "There is no bricks and mortar the business exists in e-space," she added.

    City Manager Rorie Watt said there is also no management company to contact should there be a problem.  "We would be very frustrated if somebody dropped off these devices downtown considering our seasonal nature and climate."

    "We should think about this pretty hard before it happens to us.   Residents like them but you get a lot of conflicts with business, property owners and pedestrians," he added.

    Assembly Member Michele Bonnet-Hale said people like them because they improve their lives.  She'd like to see a balance and not an outright ban on scooters.

    Assembly Member Mary Becker said she had safety concerns.  She also worried about the impact on police trying to enforce regulations.



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