City Council Adopts Code Changes on Downtown Harassment

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

At the Kodiak City Council’s regular meeting last night, the council adopted an ordinance to make it easier for the Kodiak Police Department to control harassment downtown. Pedestrians and business owners in the area have complained about members of the transient population loitering and harassing passerby.

City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski explained the need for the changes to city code.

“We recognized that Kodiak Police Department was fairly limited in the way they could respond and how they could do so, so our law firm wrote and updated our ordinances, especially title 8 which has to avoid adopting laws which are constitutionally vague or overbroad.”

She said she believes they were successful in complying with those rules and explained that the code changes, which penalize assault, panhandling, and camping in public for instance, do not limit freedom of speech or other rights ensured under the First Amendment. The ordinance passed without public comment or discussion.

Kniaziowski also explained the need for another item on the agenda, which was a resolution authorizing the Chief of Police to place signs on Mission Road.

“People were complaining that the road was being blocked, that it was affecting drainage, and the ability to transit that narrow section of roadway on Mission, so staff proposed a solution to go ahead and put no parking signs on Mission between Erskine and 12th on the northwest side.”

She said the issue resolved itself.

“One of the problem residents in that area moved away quite unexpectedly, took a lot of his personal possessions that were parked in the right of way out. Our crews were able to get in, repair and improve the drainage, and snow removal isn’t such a problem.”

The council postponed the issue indefinitely.

A new resolution on the agenda was to direct money from the insurance fund towards the storm damage general capital project fund for repairs on Pier III and the city cemetery. Kniaziowski explained a storm on Dec 29 damaged both.

“The high surf did come up and wash away sections of the old pier three, the van storage area in the back behind their operations office, and also our cemetery lost over 20 trees, and we had to take down one that was especially dangerous and have also asked for a survey of the remaining trees.”

Kniaziowski said she authorized emergency repairs directly after the storm that month because there was another storm close on its heels, but explained city code allows her to make those decisions providing she comes back for permission at the earliest opportunity afterwards. The city council authorized that transfer of funds.

The city council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for February 11.

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