Reynolds to delay introduction of beach ordinance

A proposed ordinance that would restrict driving on Homer beaches east of Bishop’s Beach won’t be introduced until January, council member Catriona Reynolds said last week. Reynolds had said earlier she and council member Francie Roberts intended to introduce a compromise beach policy ordinance at Monday’s regular Homer City Council meeting.

City attorney Thomas Klinkner also released a memorandum addressing some confusion regarding city and state authority over municipal tidelands in the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area.

Reynolds said she wanted to delay the ordinance until after the council passes its budget — the focus of the council’s attention for the next several months. Because some provisions of her proposed ordinance might require zoning changes in affected areas to be closed to driving, the ordinance also might need to be reviewed by Homer Advisory Planning Commission. Delaying the ordinance would allow time for the planning commission to make its recommendations.

An earlier ordinance, 15-29, failed on second reading. That would have banned driving on all of Bishop’s Beach and allowed some driving seasonally on the Homer Spit. Reynolds had introduced that ordinance with council member David Lewis, but recommended it be voted down at a second reading after many people testified against it, particularly coal pickers. The new ordinance would be a compromise, restricting driving on beaches east of the Bishop’s Beach parking lot, but allowing driving to the west.

Reynolds said her compromise ordinance also would add another restriction: a 10 mph speed limit on driving on the beach. That also would address safety issues like reckless driving — people spinning brodies, for example.

“That was my intention with thinking 10 mph. That is a slow speed,” Reynolds said earlier. “It’s still fast enough if you’re going from A to B to access your property or gather coal.”

Reynolds also said she would include in the new ordinance proposed amendments to Title 19 of city code regulating beach use. Those changes were recommended by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission as part of a 9-month process to review city beach policy. 

Those changes better define terms like “berm” and apply city park rules to the beaches. The changes were part of a large packet presented to the council by the parks and recreation commission at a June 29 work session. The proposed changes are on pages 487-489 of the June 29 packet.

Much of the land to the east of the Bishop’s Beach parking lot is U.S. Fish and Wildlife Land. Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Manager Steven Delehanty had said earlier that Fish and Wildlife would prefer that there be no driving on its property. That area is designated “pedestrian use only,” but city code does not specifically restrict driving there. The land isn’t part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and to apply refuge regulation would require amendments to federal rules. Even with the delay to January, Delehanty said he’s willing to be patient as the city works on revising beach policy.