Last month, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell held a public hearing in Kodiak for the ballot measure, which reintroduces a coastal management program in Alaska. If the program is approved by voters, it would allow local governments to have a say in projects conducted in federal waters more than three miles offshore.
The chamber decided to hold an informational session for the community as the Aug. 28 primary elections approach. “We feel it’s our duty to educate voters, so they can get out and vote intelligently,” chamber president Lindsay Knight said.
The Kodiak Island Borough and city of Kodiak are supporting the measure. Borough mayor Jerome Selby gave the supporting statement for the measure.
“We are the only state without a coastal management program and we have the most coastline,” Selby said. “For the state to let it lapse is a tragedy in Alaska. If anyone is doing a federal project, they can ignore Alaska or Alaskans without a request for input.”
Selby cited three reasons for the coastal management program: it’s pro-community, pro-development, and pro-Alaska. It takes community input into account, helps expedite development and gives Alaskans a chance to make decisions about managing the coast, he said.
“If we reinstate a coastal management program, we’ll have the opportunity to address projects,” Selby said.
Willis Lyford, the campaign manager for the Vote No On 2, traveled from Anchorage to give the opposing statement.
The Vote No On 2 group isn’t against a coastal management program but believes this is not the right one for Alaska. Lyford argued that the measure would cause lawsuits, delays and bureaucracy.
“We think this is defective and deceptive,” Lyford said.
One of the biggest changes from the old coastal management program is that the measure would create a 14-person Coastal Policy Board to approve new coastal regulations. The board would include nine representatives from coastal communities around Alaska and four state commissioners.
Lyford argued that since there are no background requirements for board members, the people appointed might not be qualified.
Selby responded by saying that if communities don’t like the way board members are being appointed, they can work to change it, but it’s more important to get a coastal management program working.