Community Councils…Get Inviolved

Community Councils…Get Involved Or Don’t Complain.

We just had a presidential election in which about 60% of the registered voters in Alaska participated.  Some people think that is a pretty good turnout, I think it’s pathetic.  BUT, what people don’t think about is that local government actually has more effect on your everyday life.

It seems that the more local the government becomes, the less participation we see.  In the Mat-Su Borough we generally have these levels of government:  state, borough, city, community council.  There are many opportunities to become involved at each level.  Of those four, the community councils are the most local.

The amazing thing is that although everyone can be involved in their community council, the only people that show up are the activists that want to change the status quo.  All the people that are happy with the way things are remain at home and complain when their world changes around them.

For example, in the Chickaloon Community Council area the minimum lot size is five acres.  This was passed by the community council and now has the effect of law. If you had purchased 5 acres with the intent to subdivide a portion off for a family member you are now out of luck. 

I believe that community councils are an excellent way to get residents involved in local government, but it needs community participation to function well.  I attended the Lazy Mountain Community Council tonight.  It was held at the Lazy Mountain Bible Church on Clark-Wolverine Road.  At this meeting there was a sparse turnout, but Chairman Jim Sykes reported much better participation earlier in the year.

The Lazy Mountain Community Council has their own website here.  On it they show the agenda and report on each meeting. This is an excellent way to keep the community informed.  Here is a copy of their comprehensive: Lazy Mountain Comprehensive Plan,  On their website I noticed a plan for the Wolverine Lake Trail Access.  This trail may go right next to a fantastic lakefront property I am marketing.  

Not only is it normal to have low community participation in the community councils, often the council will restrict who can vote.  For example, I received a report today that the Meadow Lakes Community Council restricts voting members to residents of the area.  So you could own a rental property in the area but not be allowed to vote.  However, your renters will be able to vote to determine what you can do with the property they rent from you.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Here is the Meadow Lakes Comprehensive Plan.  You will notice that it is over 300 pages, while the Lazy Mountain plan is 72 pages.  If you live there, you might want to read it carefully.

I searched the web for other community council websites but only found a defunct site for the Butte Community Council. .  If you want to know what is going on in your area you will need to dig.  You can start with the Borough’s list of community councils here.

The final step for the community councils is some sort of zoning.  Meadow Lakes Community Council is in the middle of that right now.  The borough will eventually have zoning over all of it’s millions of acres of land.   The question is, will you have a say in the rule changes, or will you let someone else make the rules for you?