Bay View Inn victim of city’s one-size-fits-all zoning rules

Bay View Inn, a true part of Homer’s history in this beautiful place we call the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea, is being eradicated by city of Homer officials. These officials want to get rid of places like the Bay View Inn. They call it “non-conforming.” It just doesn’t fit in their plans. 

It doesn’t matter to these city officials that the Bay View Inn has been here since before Alaska was a state or before the city existed. The inn had grandfather rights, but because the owner died and his heir was unable to continue running it from afar as an inn during probate, the city of Homer has decided to degrade and devalue the property by playing the noncompliance card. 

Homer used to revel in its noncompliance. Homer was different. Homer was magical, special, not like other places. Who moved here to conform to the standards of Santa Monica?

 The city of Homer has been very busy making new rules and regulations in its quest to clean up our city in a one-size-fits-all, forever more, zoning process. City officials want to change our town, make it more like California. They want to take away our “quirky” and make Homer a sanitized version of a town most of us don’t really want. 

 What possible harm could it be to the city of Homer to allow a 60-year-old business to remain a business? Who does it hurt up there on the hill? Does it hurt the city dump, the Shell station, Alaskan Suites, The Goofy Moose or the many other lodging establishments in the neighborhood? Does it hurt the new chiropractic office or real estate office coming down the hill? What is the harm in allowing a 60-year-old business to remain solvent and on the tax rolls? 

It appears our history doesn’t matter to city officials. The sales tax and money they can make don’t matter. Only their rigid rules matter. We need to be compliant. We need to conform. We can never vary from the rules they make — even if they make them after the fact. They really somehow think it is it OK to come in after your home or business is built and then force you to comply with rules they make later with no regard for your property or rights.  

City of Homer officials have an ongoing pattern of taking away private property owner rights with no recourse. They have no compunction in taking a person’s property and devaluing it with their newfangled zoning rules. The Bay View Inn isn’t the only property the city has deemed nonconforming. Slowly but surely, city officials are on a mission to erase the homes and businesses they don’t approve of. 

They are on the march against signs again, too — signs that had permission before but are no longer conforming. It seems our Quaint Homer is just not conforming fast enough for our planning department.

 Most would agree a prudent, consistent approach to planning our city is worthwhile. However, it should not involve destroying the value of people’s property. There is no sense in stopping a business that makes sales tax for the city and is a positive contributor to the city and community. Our history should matter to the city; it matters to the people who live here.  

The Bay View Inn matters to the people who have stayed there for honeymoons or family reunions or just as their first stop in Homer. Countless people have come forward with the story of their stay at the Bay View Inn. No one can understand the city’s lack of consideration in allowing this icon to stay a part of our community.  

 City officials can do the right thing and rectify their mistake in taking away the grandfather rights from this property and other properties. They can right the wrong.  All they need to do is correct their own mistake. Give back the grandfathered rights of ownership to the property known as the Bay View Inn. It doesn’t take an ordinance or some new regulation. It just takes city officials stepping up and doing the right thing. 

 We learn this lesson as small children: When you take something that isn’t yours, you must give it back. It is the only way to right the wrong.

Debra Leisek is the president of the Kachemak Board of Realtors and the broker/owner of Bay Realty. She has been a resident of the area since 1989.