Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 4:04 PM on Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ballot Measure No. 2




Establishment of an Alaska Coastal Management Program

This bill would create the Alaska Coastal Management Program in the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development ("the Department").

The program would develop new state and local standards to review projects in coastal areas of the state. These standards and new permitting procedures would be in addition to existing state and federal permitting requirements. Projects requiring state or federal permits would be reviewed under the program. The program would not become entirely effective until approval of these new state and local standards by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.

The bill creates a Coastal Policy Board.

The board would have 13 members appointed by the governor. Nine would be members of the public from coastal areas. Four would be state commissioners. The board would coordinate agencies for coastal and ocean planning. The board would work with agencies to develop and implement the program. The board would also review, approve, and evaluate coastal district management plans ("district plans"). The board would direct the Department to apply for funding. The board would review and approve regulations. Board members could receive per diem and travel expenses.

The bill sets out 9 coastal districts.

Each district would adopt a district plan. District plans would need board approval. To be approved, the district plan must comply with the bill's provisions and regulations approved by the board. Each district plan would set boundaries for the coastal area subject to the district plan. District plans would define the land and water uses subject to the district plan's requirements. District plans would also set special management areas and enforceable policies. The bill sets standards for district enforceable policies. The bill defines when an enforceable policy is pre-empted by existing state or federal law.

The bill would restore coastal districts, boundaries, and district plans that were in effect on June 30, 2011 under the prior coastal management program.

Coastal districts would have to review their prior district plans and submit any needed changes for board approval. Coastal districts with zoning or land use authority would use those powers to apply their district plans. Otherwise, state agencies would put the district plan into effect. Local and state agencies would regulate uses to conform to the district plans. The superior court could enforce board or department orders.

The bill would also create the Division of Ocean and Coastal Management in the Department.

This division would issue state consistency determinations and respond to federal consistency determinations and certifications. It would adopt board-approved regulations. It would would give planning and management information to coastal districts. The division would create a financial aid program to help coastal districts create and effect their district plans.

The bill sets goals for the program.

These goals include (1) management goals for coastal uses and resources; (2) the coordination of coastal planning among government and citizens; (3) public and government participation in the program; and (4) require state agencies to comply with the program.

The bill requires that regulations be adopted.

The regulations would be approved by the board and then issued by the division. They would set state coastal standards, district plan requirements, and consistency review procedures.

The bill would allow regional education attendance areas ("REAAs") in the unorganized borough to be used as Coastal Resource Service Areas ("CRSAs").

CRSAs would act through a board and function like coastal districts. The Department could combine or divide REAAs into CRSAs under set conditions. A coastal city could also be included in a CRSA under set conditions. CRSAs could also be created by voters or by a voter-approved city or village council decision. Service areas would elect boards with seven members. The State would run and fund CRSA board elections. Under some circumstances, board members could be appointed. Board members could be recalled. They could receive per diem and travel expenses. If voters fail to create a needed service area, the Department could create a district plan for the area to submit to the legislature. Under set conditions, the Department could complete a district plan for a CRSA. The bill creates a development, approval and implementation process for district plans in service areas.

The bill sets out rules of construction and defines 16 terms.

Should this initiative become law?

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