Planners Okay Hazard Plan, Short-Term Rental

2019-01-18 | The Daily Sitka Sentinel

The Sitka Planning Commission voted approval of an update to the Sitka Hazard Mitigation Plan

Wednesday night, and in the only other item on the agenda, approved a two unit short-term rental at 105 Jeff Davis St.

Before turning to the agenda, interim planning director Scott Brylinsky introduced new city Planner I Amy Ainslie, and announced that the Sitka 2030 Comprehensive Plan has received a statewide award.

Community affairs director Maegan Bozak accepted the award on behalf of the city from the Alaska Chapter of the American Planning Association in Anchorage.

The award citation praised the "innovative or visionary approaches" in creation of a plan "built upon a robust and varied community outreach program and vigorous community discussion."

There was no public comment on the hazard mitigation plan update, and after noting no significant changes, the commission forwarded the update to the Assembly on a unanimous vote.

Commissioner Randy Hughey said the big thing he had expected to see in the update was landslide mapping and implementation of an emergency plan.

"What is the timeline on that?" he asked.

Commission chair Chris Spivey said he was going to ask that question himself. He had read the update several times and saw only minor changes.

"I feel like we do this every year, don't we?" he said.

Brylinsky said he would get back to them on that point for the next meeting.

Minor updates are made to the plan every year and a major update every five years. It's a requirement that a community has such a plan to be eligible for FEMA funding in the event of a disaster.

Short Term Application

Jennifer Corak's short-term rental conditional use request was for two apartments attached to her home in the R-1 zone at 105 Jeff Davis Street. The planner's report noted that the neighborhood has a combination of uses including single family housing, the Sitka International Hostel next door, and a house with a conditional use permit for a bed and breakfast.

Corak said she has always rented the apartments to hospital workers and plans to let the present tenants remain. She said she plans to reside in her residence "until they cart me off," and plans to hire a manager to oversee the apartments when they are used as year-round short-term rentals.

Letters from two surrounding property owners expressed concern about increased traffic, the loss of long-term affordable housing and the possible effect on the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. Thad Poulson, owner of the building housing the non-profit hostel, asked that parking be limited on the side of Corak's property closest to the hostel, which is accessed by an easement between the properties. He pointed to the availability of more parking room on the south side of Corak's house, which has a driveway to the street.

Hughey made a motion to require a north side parking limit, but it died for want of a second. The commission approved the conditional use as presented on a 4-0 vote.