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7/9/2019
Council bans scooter firms: New community flag effort nixed

By SAM ALLEN
Daily News Staff Writer

The Ketchikan City Council on Monday took a proactive stance in shaping the downtown landscape by taking the first step toward banning "micromobility" devices, a category that includes rentable scooters that have become a nuisance and hazard in many other cities nationwide.

The idea for an ordinance was introduced at a previous council meeting by Mayor Bob Sivertsen, who expressed concern over abandoned scooters and other the injuries associated with ridership in other cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. There, businesses operate like bike-sharing programs — allowing the general public another mode of transportation.

The proposed ordinance had a sunset clause, which Council Member Lew Williams III, a co-publisher of the Daily News, proposed to remove. His amendment was passed unanimously along with the first reading of the ordinance.

The council expressed an urgency throughout the meeting to develop more concrete plans on how to manage the expected influx of tourists.

Council Member Sam Bergeron said more ordinances should be in place — including a fireworks ban and noise ban — to ensure and maintain quality of life before more tourists arrive.

Bergeron also commented on the city's June 25 port development and tourism management forum. Bergeron, along with council members Dave Kiffer and Mark Flora, said there seems to be two factions forming — people who support expansion and those who don't — and neither side is talking to the other.

Kiffer said that people think that the council will represent their interests, but that's difficult to do if they're competing and there isn't more of a compromise.

Merchants and the general public need to start talking with one another, said Bergeron.

Council Member Judy Zenge echoed the sentiment of being prepared to take care of more tourists, saying that more staff might be needed. She suggested a position within the Public Works Department that focuses on current and potential codes and ordinances and how to enforce them could help the city make valuable improvements.

In other action, the council declared the water leak near Schoenbar Road on June 23 a public emergency. The 36-inch line from the city's chlorination plant to the UV disinfection facility — the sole water supply for the entire city — had eroded and was replaced. The action was more of a formality, exempting the city from going through the competitive bidding process to perform the repairs that have already been completed.

In addition to this, an effort led by local tobacco educator Terrence Robbins to convince the city and Ketchikan Gateway Borough to increase the tobacco purchasing age from 19 to 21 has failed.

Robbins brought the idea before the council in May. The council kicked it over to the Joint Borough-City Cooperative Relations Committee, rationalizing that the potential ordinance should be concurrent with a borough ordinance. The cooperative relations committee sent it over to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, which instead took action to write a resolution to the state recommending a statewide increase in the tobacco purchasing age from 19 to 21.

On Monday, the council decided to take part in that resolution, so a joint-resolution recommending the age increase would be sent to the state. At previous council meetings Robbins had informed the council that there is currently no statewide effort for this change.

Another local effort — to create a new community flag — also died. Peter Stanton, a Ketchikan High School social studies teacher, initially approached the city with the idea to have a competition to redesign a community flag. The Borough Assembly voted 4-3 against a motion July 1 to fund the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council for half the estimated redesign and printing costs. The city looked at a motion Monday that was contingent on the borough funding half. Bergeron proposed an amendment to have the city pay for the full project, estimated at $6,440. The amendment failed 4-3, with Kiffer, Bergeron and Council Member Janalee Gage voting yes.

The council will have a special meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The city's port infrastructure design firm Bermello, Ajamil and Partners, Inc. will present on the request for proposal process for port expansion and uplands improvement projects.