By Mark Steiner
September 15, 2007
For the individual who suggested the City of Ketchikan has the right to limit jewelry stores through zoning is wrong. Zoning is not meant to limit any particular type of business. The intention of zoning is to limit the area where a business may conduct its business. You wouldn't want an industrial factory in a residential neighborhood. You wouldn't want an adult bookstore near a school. It is the responsibility of the Zoning Department to keep a balance of residential, commercial, industrial areas so as to maintain a reasonable quality of life.
For those who say Ketchikan needs a more diverse downtown, take a hint from what Mr. Edwardson has already stated. If there is such a need for some other type of business in Downtown Ketchikan, why hasn't anybody taken the initiative to start one? Economics is all about supply and demand. If there was such an enormous demand for some other type of business, supply would've already provided one.
The biggest form of economic growth is consumer spending. When consumers spend, the economy grows. When there is little consumer spending, the economy slows. Need to know more, pull out an economics book and read the analogy of guns and butter.
For those of you who think that jewelry stores don't add to economic development, let me show you the trickle down effect. When employees of these jewelry stores need groceries, they shop at Tatsuda's IGA, Carrs/Safeway, and Alaskan and Proud. When the jewelry stores need to get their merchandise to Ketchikan, they ship using Alaska Marine Lines, and Northland/Boyer Barge Lines. When they need a place to store the merchandise prior to there arrival for the summer season, they store the merchandise at Bear-Valley Mini Storage. When out of town jewelry store employees need housing, they contact Alliance Realty, Gateway City Realty, and RE/MAX of Ketchikan for available rentals. When a consumer makes a credit card purchase through one of these jewelry stores, the transaction takes place via a telephone line creating business for KPU and GCI. When a jewelry store's daily income needs to be deposited in a bank account, they use First Bank Alaska, Wells Fargo, and Key Bank. Jewelry stores need electricity to illuminate all those fancy display cases in their stores, creating revenue for KPU. Jewelry store employees fill their cars with gas from Texaco, Chevron, and Tatsuda's Gas at Last. Jewelry store employees pay a sales tax on their consumer purchases in town just like you and I. Jewelry store customers pay sales tax just like you and I too, adding to city funds, creating less of a tax burden for year round residents. The tourist industry in Ketchikan has created a demand for buildings in the downtown area, thus driving up there assessed value, thus creating more property tax revenue, and less of a tax burden for those of us who don't own property in the downtown area. Jewelry store employees have to get to Ketchikan somehow, so they fly up on Alaska Airlines, creating jobs for airline employees, and they got to take the ferry across so that creates even more jobs. When they need a light bulb for their store, they make a purchase from Madison Lumber and Hardware, Channel Electric, or First City Electric. When a jewelry store wants to remodel they call Edwardson Enterprises, Model Builders, or Woodright Construction.
When they need a pane of glass replaced in the store, they call Johnson Glass, or Alaska Glass and Supply. When they need a new sign, they spend money with Sign Pro. When they want to eat out, they choose Annabelle's, Steamers, or Ocean View. They've got to keep their stores somewhat heated in the winter months, even though they're not physically present in town, so they call Andres Oil, or Petro to keep their tanks full. When their heating system needs a tune-up, they call Ketchikan Dray Heating or Schmolk Mechanical. With an influx of tourists they've created jobs for our youth in the form of crossing guards, who in turn will likely spend some that money on new clothes at Wal-Mart or Tongass Trading Company. They sign up for cellular phone service through Cellular One, GCI, and ACS. Even if they don't sign up for service through one of these providers, the cellular signal still has to go through one of their networks.
So if you think a limit on jewelry stores does not affect you, you're dead wrong. You don't have to like the idea where consumers spend their money, after all it is their money to choose with their own freewill where they choose to spend their money in our free economy. Truth is, is if you really disliked so much where jewelry store consumers are spending their money, you would've already come up with an alternative place for them to spend, verses eliminating the consumers freedom to spend their money at a legitimate business of their choosing. The community of Ketchikan is not forcing tourists to spend their money in jewelry stores, yet wants to take away the freedom of where they can spend money. There is plenty of other tourist related business in Ketchikan where a consumer could choose to spend the money, and they have that freedom. For examples view Rob Holston's letter dated September 6th, 2007 at www.sitnews.us. . He definitely did his research on other available business where consumers can spend their money at, when visiting Ketchikan. If you feel there is another business opportunity in Downtown, by all means take the initiative and risk to start your own business, nobody is stopping you. The building that currently houses Davies-Barry Insurance is going up for lease. If you missed the opportunity to establish a business in downtown, last I checked The Plaza still had vacant space. If you're really up for a challenge, develop the building in Newtown that has "HELP" painted on it.
Mr. Edwardson brought up a good point in one of his previous posts. If Ketchikan doesn't have a demand for tourism, they will go someplace else to visit. Sure looks like to me based on the annual numbers of tourists from the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau that we have something here they demand. Whether it be jewelry stores or something else. If tourists didn't like what Ketchikan had to offer, they would've already left and moved on. If tourism moved to another port, what would our non-profits do without the donations from Princess Cruises and the Northwest Cruise Association that contributes to our quality of life?
I can't believe we as a community have wasted so much time and effort attempting to limit economic growth. How about instead we focus on placing more trash receptacles in public places so people choose not to litter. You can't force somebody not to litter, but you can make it easier for them not to litter by making it more convenient for them to find a trash receptacle. How about installing a "rope fence" along the sidewalk near the Federal Building like that along the docks so we can limit the number of people who choose to dart out into traffic along a blind corner. How bout following Mr. Holston's suggestion that businesses in Ketchikan with a storefront have hanging flower basket for every 50' of storefront? Sounds like a great idea to me. Minimal cost to the business owner ($100 or less), and it'll create a colorful and welcoming feel to consumers, both local and non-local. Instead our City Council chooses to spend $150,000 over a 2 year period to place art downtown. What a waste. That money could be better spent on batting cages for our youth that was debated a few months back to provide another recreational opportunity for area youth. Yet a better idea is to spend that $150,000 on water treatment so I can stop worrying that the water that I pay for through KPU causes cancer.
How about we ban the Aleutian Ballad and the Bering Crab Fisherman's Tour? Heck, Ketchikan isn't close to the Bering Sea so it must be bad for economic growth even though consumers are spending money for the tour. How about a ban on the Sea Horse Trolley Tour? Since when did Alaskans travel by a horse drawn trolley on city streets? Let's ban Dolly House and Museum too. We wouldn't want visitors to know about Creek Street's naughty past. Since I live in town, I propose we start a petition that all businesses must be located within city limits. That way I won't have to travel so far to do some consumer spending. Got a problem with that? That's okay; I just wanted to limit economic growth.
Received September 15, 2007 - Published September 15, 2007
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