I have owned a retail business in downtown Kodiak since 1998. I have witnessed our downtown business district decline considerably since then. Some years ago, this deterioration sparked an interest from the Kodiak City Council and others to look into new ways of promoting shopping in our downtown historical district. A team of consultants was hired and shared with our community recommended ways to rejuvenate this important area. Unfortunately, downtown continues to struggle.
One significant cause is the application of ordinance KCC 5-04-010. This ordinance is presently interpreted to prohibit sales of merchandise on downtown sidewalks, even in front of one’s own store.
This ordinance was drafted in 1977, a time when sidewalks were much busier. Problems may have arisen concerning transients peddling items in front of stores. Currently, however, the ordinance is posing problems for downtown retailers. Main Street Kodiak, a proactive group of retailers and concerned citizens and the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce also expressed concerns with this ordinance. They attempted to revisit it with the city in order to find a way to allow the downtown area to promote activity on the mall and in surrounding areas. They hoped to convince the city council that the intent was other than to prohibit using the sidewalk for sales. Sadly, the group has made little progress in this area and presently the fine for displaying merchandise on city sidewalks is $300.
From a business and economic perspective, visibility and access to merchandise is critical. Cities worldwide embrace this concept, and their towns are more colorful and healthy as a result. In the spirit of cooperation and community, I would like to collaborate with others to identify a solution to this problem. I feel that the solution will be uncovered through healthy discussion and cooperation if we keep the overall welfare of our town and island community in mind. Undoubtedly, we need simple, economically feasible solutions to stimulate business. The sidewalk is paid for by all of us. Please help support an ordinance that permits sales of merchandise on sidewalks adjacent to private property.