The Ketchikan City Council voted quickly and without much discussion on Thursday to move forward with an ordinance designed to restrict hawking in downtown Ketchikan.
The ordinance passed unanimously in first reading, and will come back for a second vote during the Council’s April 7 meeting. If it’s adopted, business owners and their employees in the downtown area would be prohibited from engaging customers with the intent of encouraging them to make purchases, unless it is within a business.
Exceptions will be made for dock vendors and businesses with special permits.
The ordinance also establishes fines. A first offense would cost $200, a second violation within a year is $300, and all subsequent violations in a year are $500 each.
Susan Peters, a downtown business owner, was on an advisory committee that recommended the ordinance. She spoke during public comment, and says the ordinance is a good first step “to control inappropriate solicitations to people harmlessly walking the streets of our downtown.”
Also Thursday, the Council voted unanimously to protest a liquor license renewal for First City Saloon, citing a failure to pay property and rental taxes. The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board makes the final decision on renewals, but the city’s protest will be considered.
A public hearing on the protest has been scheduled for the start of the April 7 regular Council meeting.
The Council spent quite a bit of time Thursday talking about new water and wastewater lines on Front, Mill and Stedman streets. The State of Alaska plans to repave that section of state highway next spring, and the city historically tries to conduct utility work in conjunction with repaving, so the road doesn’t have to be torn up twice.
But, there was concern about how to pay for the new pipes, estimated to cost up to $2.6 million. Bonding was discussed, but that likely would lead to rate increases.
Mayor Lew Williams III said, “We’ve hit the water for three years in a row, and I’ve been telling everybody this is the last one. Now we’re doing this and saying we’re going to need to raise it again, so I’d rather come up with another way of funding it.”
Williams suggested using reserves and rolling over the debt payment for a different bond that will mature next year.
The Council voted 5-0 to move forward with the project, but didn’t settle yet on how to pay for it. Council Members Julie Isom and Dave Kiffer were absent on Thursday.
Also last night, the Council voted unanimously to approve a contract between Ketchikan Public Utilities Telecommunications Division and Verizon Wireless. That contract will allow KPU to start selling Verizon products locally.
KPU Telecom expects to start selling those products this summer.