Wow! This out-of-control homeless camp problem on Anchorage’s public lands must be far worse than we thought. Even Democrat lawmakers are teeing off on Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Police Chief Justin Doll.
In a letter signed by Anchorage Democratic state Reps. Zack Fields, Geran Tarr, Chris Tuck, Harriet Drummond, Matt Claman, and Republican Sara Rasmussen, along with Senate Democrats Sens. Tom Begich, Bill Wielechowski, and Elvi Gray-Jackson, they vigorously slap Berkowitz and the chief around.
“We are writing to urge the Municipality of Anchorage to use its full legal authority to clean up the city’s parks.” the letter states. “Each year, the number and size of encampments with semi-permanent structures, fires, chop shops, and drug paraphernalia continue to grow. These encampments pose an existential threat to our community’s economic future. Based on our understanding of the options available, we feel the city has not used its full authority to clear camps by removing structures and other materials.”
It goes on: “Squatters/campers possess few legal rights that allow them to establish or maintain encampments on public land. The 9th Circuit has established the most restrictive case law related to municipal authority to address squatters/camp holds that local governments may not prohibit sleeping in all public spaces if there is no indoor shelter space for indigent individuals (Martin v. Boise).
“The Municipality of Anchorage has ample space for individuals to sleep outside, including thousands of square acres in Chugach State Park. Martin v. Boise does not preclude localities from removing structures or otherwise abating waste left by drug addicts, thieves, and other squatters/campers. So long as Anchorage has some place individuals can sleep outside, case law does not limit removal of waste from the park system.”
When hard-core Democrats turn on their own, you know the situation is bad – very bad.
What with all the shootings and drug trafficking and crime in the city – including shootings in a Midtown park – the lawmakers are feeling the heat from constituents fed up with the seemingly growing problem and do not feel safe in the city’s park, greenbelts and bike paths.
Who can blame the lawmakers for being angry? More and more residents will not even go into the parks out of fear for their safety and the growing health problems the camps pose.
We seldom agree with Democrats on any issue, but in this case they are dead right.