Borough committees are meeting to discuss the proposed minor offenses ordinance but at one discussion this week, progress was slow.
The minor offenses ordinance is causing more than a minor headache for those trying dissect the 14-page list of regulations.
It’s also causing concern from locals who fear their quality of life will be impacted with more restrictions. Borough officials say the ordinance is simply streamlining enforcement for regulations that already exist.
The list of violations has been divided up between the Public Safety Commission, the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee, the Government Affairs and Services Committee and the Tourism Advisory Board to review and forward recommendations to the assembly.
But decrypting of all these rules could take a while.
“I think what I got out of that committee meeting is that there is going to be a lot of hard work to get that ordinance to where it’s digestible by the people of Haines,” said assembly member and chair of the Government Affairs and Services committee Dave Berry Jr. “Maybe not quite a year, but it’s going to take a long time. Every little section intertwines with another section and another title.”
Berry and the other three members of the GAS committee met on Monday to go through their assigned offenses.
There was some confusion about what exactly the committee’s role is when it comes to the proposed ordinance, with committee member George Campbell eager to take on the entire list.
“We are the GAS committee we have been asked to review the minor offenses ordinance as a whole, as a whole,” Campbell said. “Let’s discuss it from the very beginning because that’s the meat of what people are having problems with.”
After about 20 minutes, Mayor Jan Hill, who was there observing, stepped in to clarify.
“The minor offenses as a whole will be gone over by the assembly,” she said. “We have taken sections out that pertain to the different committees that we have so that the assembly doesn’t have to go through the detail of each of those particular offenses. So you are tasked tonight to go through the ones that are applicable to the GAS committee.”
Once it was clear, the committee got to work discussing the minutia of a handful of offenses that didn’t seem to fit with any other committee. Those included the presence of house numbers, obstructions in alleys, on roadways and sidewalks; and the use of motorized vehicles on Chilkat River beaches.
Berry says he thought the motorized vehicle on Chilkat beaches issue had been resolved. More than a year ago, the assembly made the decision to ban motorized vehicles in those areas.
“You can’t go around the back door after we’ve already gone through and worked this system out. We did this, what was it, a year and a half ago?”
Since it has now come up again, Berry says the committee recommended getting legal clarification on the matter.. The GAS committee on Monday got through five offenses in about two hours.
The group decided on recommendations related to house numbers and obstructions on public throughways. They recommended getting rid of an offense dealing with use of streets for private purposes. They have also asked borough staff to clarify detail on an offense regarding restrictions at Picture Point.
The Public Safety Commission and the Port and Harbor Advisory Committee are taking on their assigned offenses with different approaches. The Public Safety Commission powered through a list of ordinances and has already submitted recommendations to the assembly.
Commission chair Jim Stanford says that many of the offenses in question were repetitive and pretty easy to make decisions on.
“We just made recommendations from a generic position as to what we thought looked kind of unreasonable,” said Stanford. “And there were quite a few recommendations to drop the fines, I mean, not completely but to reduce the fines quite a bit, some of the ones that we felt were excessive.”
Stanford says that taking the time to dissect the offenses now, before the ordinance is passed, just makes good sense.
“Why would we put the cart before the horse and go ahead and pass an ordinance and hope they’re going to change is later on? That just doesn’t seem to work.”
The Port and Harbor Advisory Committee last week decided to take a different tack on harbor-related offenses. Some members and Harbormaster Shawn Bell had concerns about certain offenses but instead of taking action at this time, the group recommended passing the ordinance as is, and dealing with changes in the future.
As for the Tourism Advisory Board, they haven’t met yet to discuss their portion of the list and according to the borough website, there is no meeting scheduled.
Although these four committees have been assigned to go over the offenses, the assembly is still going ahead with its second public hearing on the ordinance Tuesday, Sept. 8th at 6:30 p.m.