Assembly Issues


Candidate Responses

All photos by Michael Penn/Juneau Empire

Juneau’s real estate market is among the tightest in the nation. Single family homes routinely sell in less than 30 days. What role – if any – do you see local government in supporting the availability of affordable and workforce housing?

Maria Gladziszewski

Candidate for Areawide Assembly

We need to continue our practice of making city land available for development, look for ways to streamline permitting, and promote infill development and increased density in places lightly developed on the bus line. In the last few years, the CBJ has offered land sales near D-Z school and we are in the process of developing Pedersen Hill. We can continue our effort to make sure our building and land use codes are not obstacles to good, affordable housing developments. We should continue to look for ways to partner with the private sector for a continuum of housing choices for all ages (e.g., look for ways to assist the development of a senior assisted living facility) and implement the strategies listed in the Housing Action Plan including growing the Affordable Housing Fund to a meaningful level. CBJ’s chief housing officer has been diverted to working on issues of homelessness of late and needs to get back to the tasks he was hired to do: work with developers, community organizations, banks and other partners to implement the strategic housing strategy called for in the plan.

Andy Hughes

Candidate for Areawide Assembly

The Assembly has the power and land resources to stimulate and reduce the cost of housing in Juneau. The Assembly has begun to move slowly in the right direction beginning with the Pederson Hill subdivision project. The Assembly is caught between builders who have invested in land that would be reduced in value, if the Assembly puts appreciably more land on the market, and its goal to provide affordable housing. If making housing development more affordable is truly a high priority of the Assembly, the Assembly should proceed to make as much developable public land available, as fast as possible, to meet public demand, but with conditions to prevent speculation.

Put more public land suitable for residential construction on the market both developed and undeveloped with conditions that developed lots with road access and utilities must have a housing start within a year or be forfeit back to the Borough and undeveloped land must be platted and basic gravel road access and utilities installed within three years or land will be forfeit back to the Borough. Lots and Land parcels will be identified as available for bid for development under the above conditions with a minimum bid requirement. When a resident or developer indicates an interest in a property at the listed minimum bid, it will be public noticed for bid with the above conditions. Minimum bid levels will be managed with the goal of reducing cost/value of land in Juneau.

Chuck Collins

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

A stated, regular auction of land offerings from CBJ holdings made available to the public. The housing assistance offered by the lands department is a good step, but we must mind the budget to continue the funding. I would look at streamlining the community development process and unburden the building industry, partnering with developers to bring projects to fruition and strengthen economic development. Good jobs make affordable housing an closer goal.

Loretto Jones

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

Plenty of vacant buildings and houses for sale that our out of the price range for many people. Cut a deal with the Unions and start rebuilding Juneau’s infrastructure, starting with buildings already standing.

Jesse Kiehl

Candidate for District 1 Assembly

We’ve had a lot of success in recent years adjusting city rules so developers can create more housing units. With our limited land base, density is important. Those changes are helping, and the market is responding. Moving forward, there’s $1 million in the 1 percent sales tax package for the affordable housing fund, so lower-income working people don’t get left out of Juneau’s growth.

I’ve worked on selling city land for housing throughout my time on the Assembly. We’ve made progress with the Jackie Street subdivision, and we’re getting close to Pederson Hill. Juneau’s housing action plan calls for regular, predictable sales of city land. That will let developers and individuals build more houses and apartments, without crashing the real estate market for existing homes. Right now, state budget cuts are driving down the business cycle in Juneau. The city should take advantage of lower construction costs to get long-planned land sales ready so there’s space to grow as things rebound.

With careful work, the city can help get Juneau’s housing market “unstuck” and poised for future growth.

Rob Edwardson

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

As a municipality, the state of Alaska gave a specific amount of land to Juneau. Juneau’s role is to make laws that allow the development of affordable housing. It can do this by releasing land for development in a manner that allows affordable development. CBJ can also ensure that ordinances allow other possibilities for affordable development by such as allowing current property owners to subdivide their property creating relatively low-cost building lots for development.

Debbie White

Candidate for District 2 Assembly

Actually, the average days on market for residential real estate in 2016 was 51 days in 2016 and 48 in 2017, but since the state’s issues have become clear to the public, that number appears to be increasing again. I have been working in the real estate industry for 18 years and talk to families every single day about our housing issues. The subdivision at Pederson Hill will bring over 80 residential lots to the market, over a period of time, so as not to crash the land market. While we may not need it today, the market is cyclical. We need Pederson Hill and at least two other options ready to develop when the market is strong enough to support them. Getting Pederson Hill to this point took over two years.

KTOO solicited the candidates’ answers by email. We’ve edited their written responses for typos, grammar and news writing style — but not for length or substance.
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