Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

GAS committee wants to cut borough minor offense list


February 1, 2018

A borough advisory board will pare down Haines’ list of 299 minor offenses, pending borough assembly approval.

The Government Affairs and Services Committee approved a recommendation Monday that the Code Review Commission identify which minor offenses should go.

The only municipality in Southeast Alaska that has more minor offenses in its code is Juneau.

Petersburg has 90, Wrangell has 120, Sitka has 182, the Ketchikan Borough has 214 and Juneau has 531.

GAS and borough assembly member Brenda Josephson brought the issue before the committee and said there are too many arbitrary violations that could give a resident a court record. She also said a long list of minor offenses allows for the potential of capricious and arbitrary enforcement.

The borough has 19 dog offenses, which incur different fines depending on whether an animal has been spayed or neutered. A person would be fined $25 if police enforced the law “No pedestrian may walk in to path of vehicle” and $30 if a person roller skated or rode a unicycle on the roadway.

Haines court clerk Bonnie Hedrick said she typically only sees borough dog violations come through the court system.

“The huge majority are violations of state code that doesn’t have to do with borough minor offense code,” Hedrick said.

In 2014 the local court system saw 109 minor offense violations filed. In 2015 that number increased to 215. In 2016 police wrote 323 minor offense tickets and the number dipped last year to 104.

Mayor Jan Hill attended the GAS meeting. She discussed the community outcry that occurred several years ago after the state directed municipalities to compile their minor offenses into one list. Many residents expected the list to be reduced at that time.

“I welcome and I would love to be able to direct the minor offenses to be sorted through and throw out the ones that are ridiculous,” Hill said. “There are way too many dog rules.”

Borough manager Debra Schnabel said the Code Review Commission needs assembly direction when choosing what violations should be removed.

“They need to understand the overarching attitude of the assembly because when they dig into the list of 299 offenses they’re going to be faced with all kinds of choices,” Schnabel said.

Josephson said the Code Review Commission should start identifying arbitrary “nuisance” violations such as making it unlawful “to annoy, injure or endanger the safety, health, comfort or repose of the public.”

“One person can be annoyed with one thing and another person can be annoyed with another thing,” Josephson told the CVN. “It just says it’s unlawful for you to annoy. These areas are rife for correction.”

The assembly will hear the GAS committee’s recommendation at its Feb. 13 regular meeting.


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