A recently formed community group aims to find “quickly implemented” solutions to Mountain View safety and sanitation concerns, eyeing everything from stricter code enforcement to extra garbage cans.
It’s a new response to old problems.
Called the Mountain View Community Council Safety and Cleanliness Subcommittee, the group first came together at the October council meeting following a heated conversation about some of the neighborhood’s most visible struggles — plentiful litter and public intoxication. Dumpsters overflow onto residential streets. Bus stops are strewn with trash. Empty alcohol bottles dot the gutters. It’s not uncommon to see someone passed out in a doorway or under a bush or on a curb somewhere along Mountain View Drive.
While past neighborhood improvement efforts included a push to restrict local liquor sales, the community council is now taking a different approach, looking at other sources of trouble and potential fixes. Are overflowing dumpsters caused by overcrowded apartment complexes? Does the Municipality of Anchorage enforce occupancy and public nuisance codes? Could a proactive approach to litter help prevent other, larger problems? What can the neighborhood do to fix itself?
“We have to take pride in our community,” said local business owner Angela Jimenez at the October community council meeting. “Until we make individuals accountable for their actions, there’s no solution.”
Last year, the community council sought to place restrictions on the conditional use permits for Mountain View’s two Brown Jug stores, hoping to ameliorate alcohol-related problems in the neighborhood. This year, the council asked the Anchorage Assembly to hold a public hearing on the matter. Neither effort succeeded: The stores have no outstanding liquor license violations, according to MVCC President Daniel George, and the business appears to be taking steps to address neighborhood concerns. Earlier this year, one of the liquor store’s out-of-state executives flew to Anchorage to meet with Mountain View business leaders and community advocates, George said.
“We had a chance to have a very long conversation,” the council president said Oct. 12. “I personally can say that the tone appears to be 180 degrees different.”
Currently, Brown Jug is the sole financial supporter of the Alaska Responsible Beverage Retailers Association, a nonprofit that works to clean up bus stops, illegal campsites and booze-related refuse around Anchorage. With only one full-time employee, the work is never done.
“It’s just a battle that’s really hard to win,” said ARBRA’s Jonah Rendon.
There’s too much trash, he said. No matter how many times he cleans a bus stop or green space, a day or two later it’s like he was never there. ARBRA Director Silvia Villamides said the nonprofit’s budget limits its effectiveness. Besides, she said, picking up trash is no permanent cure. The issue goes deeper than that.
“It’s a community problem,” Villamides said. “As a community – as business owners and operators – we need to get together and unify.”
Nearly a dozen community members volunteered to join the Mountain View Community Council Safety and Cleanliness Subcommittee that night. The group’s first meeting is set to take place Nov. 3.