Home Politics Community Politics The Lori Drive Family Feud and the Anchorage Assembly

The Lori Drive Family Feud and the Anchorage Assembly

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An innocuous executive order changing an Anchorage street name caught my attention at last Tuesday’s assembly meeting.
For years, the municipality has been making an effort to eliminate redundant street names, so that 911 dispatchers don’t risk confusion when directing emergency responders.
Lori Drive is one (two, I guess) such location. There is a Lori Drive in Muldoon, pressed up against the mountains, and another in the Sand Lake area off Dimond.
That’s a whole lot of road in between two locations.
The public works department chose the secluded south side street for a new name. It touches just three residences and is the access road for just one. Only a single suggested name came from the Lori Drive residents: “Crockett Place.” The city also provided a suggestion: “Eventide Place.”
The choice was voted on by the three households. The Crockett residence voted for their suggestion and the Isabelle residence voted for the city’s. The third resident was out of town and did not cast what would have been the deciding vote. The city decided on Eventide via a coin flip, and Anchorage Resolution 89 codified the switch.
Team Crockett was not amused, filing a petition protesting the name change.
“We would like to change the name to our suggestion, which is Crockett Place,” Lynn told the body. “We’ve been there for twenty years, my kids were born and raised there, I was born and raised here, my family has been here since the sixties.”
She brought documentation stating that the third neighbor (absent for the vote) preferred Crockett Place.
There’s no current policy awarding street names for tenure, and votes aren’t generally honored when cast after the election, but why not try? If you win, you get your very own street!
Sue Isabelle, the other affected resident, also spoke. She felt Eventide was the better choice and, as the household using Lori Dr. as an access road, requested approval of the order.
Robert Crockett provided additional testimony that said little, but definitely conveyed his frustration about the process. It was kind of intense.
I had never seen the birth of a family feud before and expected a bit more than calmly registered complaints via a city assembly. This is Alaska – I figured we’d at least get a recreational explosion or two.
But it was a bit of an “aha!” moment.
The bizarre scene awkwardly emphasized how local government should work. The planning department explained, step by step, what the renaming process looked like as laid out in code (21.15.133). Police Chief Mark Mew fielded questions about if further delay in renaming the street might cause undue risk for residents of either Lori Drive. It wasn’t partisan; no one had their minds made up going into the issue, and that fostered an environment of curiosity. It was neat.
Twenty minutes later, however, the assembly chose by a 7-4 vote to postpone the order indefinitely.
Now everyone’s back at the beginning. Because, clearly, both Sue Isabelle and the Crocketts are in a better position to compromise now. Nothing like arguing with each other in front of an entire city to calm tempers and encourage measured negotiations…
The assembly’s failure to deal with the Lori Drive family feud, nestled in between two unrelated ordinances also on the docket, illustrated why those more controversial ordinances actually don’t fix our problems, and kind of miss the point.
A decade-long debate over what future development in Anchorage will look like recently ended when the body passed Title 21, the city’s land use code. The municipality’s planning division is tasked with implementation. Anchorage Ordinance 43, proposed by Adam Trombley, would eliminate the planning department – the folks responsible for ensuring that development meets “the quality of life, economic, social, environmental, and physical needs of present and future residents.”
“It’s roughly a four hundred thousand dollar savings; you’re not adding a single service, you’re not adding any additional labor, but you’re going to find efficiencies in this reorganization,” Trombley said in defense of the proposal.
The planning division is already operating with half the staff needed to approve the volume of permits coming in. Piling the planning division’s duties atop the existing workload of the public works department is not efficient. And yet the assembly would like to add re-renaming a street to their to-do list. Trombley took a backlog, renamed it a logjam, and tried to cut the remaining staff – people we need to green-light projects that will grow the Anchorage economy.
Trombley’s ordinance was shot down.
Chair Hall’s Ordinance 63, which would allow a simple majority of the assembly to shut down public testimony according to whenever they got bored of hearing it, survived the night. The large crowd criticizing his attempt to restrict public testimony forced the hearing to be continued.
AR89 was a shining example of the purpose of taking public comment. The residents impacted by the order provided pertinent insight that assembly members did not have going into the discussion. It took as long as it needed to and all voices were heard.
Adam Trombley should stop trying to arbitrarily cut his way to solutions. Ernie Hall needs to realize that public comment isn’t a problem facing the city – it’s an underused resource. If a lot of people are concerned about a bill, there are probably a lot of reasons worth listening to.
The seven members voting to kick the can down the road were the breakdown in the system. Not the public; not the planning division. The failure was the assembly’s ultimate refusal to adjudicate the matter. That’s their job. They didn’t do it.
They couldn’t even rename a street.

1 COMMENT

  1. Title 21 didn’t generate the media attention it needed. Crazy how stalling on something for a decade+ has that effect !! Still in twenty years its going to be something we look back on and have to swallow that it ruined the city. We okayed turning Anchorage into the inside of a Walmart becauase Dan Coffey said so !

  2. Eventide? Clearly a real estate name. The Isabell woman does not actually live there. She wants to tear down that shack and put up a piece of real estate. Crockett won’t really draw the trade the way Eventide would. Neither party has much to be proud of here. Twenty years and they want to have a street they don’t even used named after them? Puh-leeeeazze!

  3. Wow, so much energy for so trivial a matter….wouldn’t it be nice if they put that much energy into volunteering or making the world a better place rather than just having a p*ssing match?