Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:08 PM on Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Council not lured into fray

Hogan walks out; Zak urges group to get involved

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

For the second time in less than a week, a halibut catch share plan being considered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries has drawn sharp, although mixed, reaction.

At an Aug. 18 meeting of the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center board of directors, the chamber voted not to formally comment on the plan (see related story, this page). At Monday's meeting of the Homer City Council, Pat Melone, owner of The Spyglass Inn, requested the city council submit a formal comment on the plan. Like the chamber, the council will not be commenting.

Fearing the economic fallout that may occur under the plan, local charter operators and related businesses are encouraging comments be submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service before the Sept. 6 deadline.

"On behalf of tourism and our quality of life, I urge you to oppose the catch share plan," Melone told the city council. She requested a letter from the council seek extension of the comment period, ask for an economic impact analysis of the plan and a continuation of the existing guideline harvest limit, 3.6 million pounds for guided sport fishermen in Area 3A, the central Gulf of Alaska including Cook Inlet and Homer.

"It's time we step up as community leaders, community members and get involved," said council member Bryan Zak.

Council member Barbara Howard requested during her closing comments the council direct City Manager Walt Wrede to draft a letter as outlined by Melone, but council member Kevin Hogan objected.

"I don't see this as an issue being related to the topic of fish wars," said Hogan. "I see this as being related to the council's procedures and bylaws. We are not allowed to discuss what's not on the agenda. That's the issue I'm concerned about."

City Attorney Tom Klinkner saw no reason the council couldn't ask Wrede to write such a letter.

"It's not like you're amending an ordinance or doing anything else that has the effect of a legal nature," he said.

Mayor James Hornaday suggested the council first vote on whether to take a vote requesting the letter.

"I think I'm going to leave," said Hogan, walking out of the council chambers.

Asking for a show of hands, Hornaday asked who supported a vote requesting Wrede write a letter to NMFS. Only Zak voted in favor of voting. David Lewis, Beth Wythe, Francie Roberts and Howard opposed taking the vote.

In other action, the Homer City Council held public hearings on and passed:

• Ordinance 11-33, amending the Homer City Code to include exemptions for public transportation companies serving more than 15 passengers, on a four-to-two vote with council members David Lewis, Francie Roberts, Kevin Hogan and Bryan Zak in favor of the ordinance; Barbara Howard and Beth Wythe opposed it;

• Ordinance 11-34, appropriating $21,798.25 for parking improvements at the Coast Guard parking area adjacent to Pioneer Dock; unanimous;

• Ordinance 11-35, appropriating $24,000 to acquire new narrow band radios for the Public Works Department, unanimous;

The city council also:

• Introduced Ordinance 11-36, reappropriating $15,000 for drainage and associated improvements at the fire hall parking lot, public hearing and second reading Sept. 12;

• Amended Ordinance 11-23, which addresses permitted uses and structures, upon recommendation of the Homer Advisory Planning Commission, with a public hearing and second reading for Sept. 12;

• Passed Resolution 11-083, approving and adopting a 2011-2012 natural gas pipeline project action plan, unanimous;

• Passed Resolution 11-084, declaring Sept. 23 as Blue and Gold Day, unanimous;

• Passed Resolution 11-085, amending the Homer Advisory Planning Commission bylaws to amend the commission's meeting time, unanimous.

The next meeting of the Homer City Council is Sept. 12.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.