Matt Van Daele is running for Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and has his eye on Kodiak’s housing situation.
Van Daele, who works as Koniag’s Lands and Resources Manager and also sits on the Borough Lands Committee, says the borough needs to work on opening up land in order to jumpstart the economy and revitalize the community.
He says the first step is to engage the Coast Guard and make more housing available on base.
“By opening more base housing, then we’ll immediately be making more houses that are already built available for other, longer term residents of Kodiak. And we need to start working with members of the public that own small parcels of land that are just sitting fallow basically. They’re not being developed. There are several hundred of these parcels throughout the Kodiak road system that just aren’t being developed.”
Van Daele says they should pinpoint an incentive for landowners to put their property on the market. He says they also need to look at the borough building codes.
“And determine what we can do to amend these codes that would allow people to build the houses that they want within the means that they have available to them. Because by opening up land, we need to be able to have people build the homes that they can have and that they want to have.”
He says the borough could pursue public-private partnerships to increase building development.
“Especially looking at affordable housing, low-income housing, building more apartment complexes, because not everyone’s going to be able to afford land or a house right off the bat. We need to find ways to get people into residences and get them to be able to start building up the ability to become a property tax payer.”
The Borough Lands Committee was established to come with up housing solutions and open up land in the borough. Van Daele says one reason he wants to join the assembly is to help pass some of the changes the committee has suggested. The three others running for assembly are Monique Lewis, current assemblyman Scott Smiley, and write-in James Turner.
While there are currently two seats on the assembly open, there will be a third free when Assemblyman Dan Rohrer is voted in as Borough Mayor. The election is Tuesday and polls open at 7 a.m.