Homer’s eastern neighbor, Kachemak City, is a bit of an enigma to many folks at our end of the Kenai Peninsula. It is a tiny, irregularly shaped city with one-tenth the population of Homer. It doesn’t even have its own zip code.
What it does have, though, is a long history, longer by three years than Homer itself, and a governing philosophy that argues that the best government is less government. It is a self-sufficient, frugal community led by a mayor and city council.
Despite its smaller size, Kachemak City, to the best of its ability, has been and continues to be, a strong financial supporter of Homer and its citizens, their interests and causes. It is the quintessential “good neighbor.”
Even so, it has been referred to, rather tongue in cheek, as a “do nothing” city, most recently in a letter to the Homer city manager which was included in a recent Homer City Council packet. That reference can be interpreted a couple of different ways. It could be taken as a criticism of a city that truly does nothing, nothing for its people, nothing for its neighbors. But it also could be accepted as a compliment by a city that strives to enhance the lives of its residents by providing things that should be the responsibility of government, while staying out of their day-to-day lives.
So, you might ask, what has Kachemak City done for me lately?
In past years, Kachemak City has contributed to Homer infrastructure by “buying into” the sewer treatment plant, contributing to the building of the Homer Public Library and Animal Shelter and purchasing wildland fire equipment for the Homer Fire Department. We contract with Homer for emergency services at a cost of $70,000 per year and, in addition, we make our tanker-pumper available for use area-wide at a rate of $1 per year. Kachemak City and Homer cooperated in building the Anchor Point to Homer and Anchor Point to Kachemak natural gas line, the Spencer Drive gas line and the East End Road sewer extension, saving both cities significant amounts of money.
Kachemak City supports many of the Homer area non-profits by maintaining a fund with the Homer Foundation that awards grants for such things as the local food bank. We’ve applied for and obtained grants for the Homer Hockey Association to assist with building upgrades to accommodate natural gas and for maintenance equipment.
In addition, we support the community as a whole by writing letters of support when asked — most recently on behalf of the Homer Yacht Club for the acquisition of additional mooring buoys in Kachemak Bay. Over time, similar efforts have been made for the Snomads, Kachemak Nordic Ski Club and Homer High School. Since our residents do almost all of their shopping in Homer, we pay the city’s sales tax. Some of our residents also pay fees individually to Homer for sewer service. At the same time, we make our playground, tennis courts, park and community center available for unrestricted area-wide use.
If you are a resident of Kachemak City we hope you are also aware of the additional benefits you derive from your residency in our small town: We contract with the City of Homer to provide citywide fire and emergency services, provide grants to maintain city and subdivision roads, make our community center available for many users, in and out of town. Most importantly, we serve as your local governing body.
It is surprising how many people are unaware of the history of Kachemak City, of the fact that it predates Homer’s incorporation and of its daily financial and civic-minded impact on the lives and well-being of Homerites as well as her own residents.
Perhaps that mutually beneficial relationship will be clearer now.
Roni and Bill Overway have been residents of Kachemak City for 11 years. Bill Overway is the mayor of Kachemak City.