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Rashah McChesney
(AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney) Sandy Lashbrook encourages passersby to vote yes on Proposition 1 and repeal the Kenai city administration's comprehensive plan Tuesday Oct. 1, 2013 in Kenai, Alaska. Lashbrook said the pink gorilla represented the people's voice and the people's voice wanted to be heard on the city's contentious comprehensive plan. Proposition 1 is a referendum that would repeal the city's revised comprehensive plan.

Kenai says no to comprehensive plan

Posted: October 1, 2013 - 11:56pm  |  Updated: October 2, 2013 - 11:48am

Kenai voters repealed the city’s controversial comprehensive plan in Tuesday’s municipal election.

“No more Lowe’s. No more Walmarts. No more businesses that will leave within two or three years and leave big, empty buildings,” Kenai resident Natalie Kohler said.

She and Jodi Stuart voted to repeal the plan. Both Kenai residents said the plan promotes development unfit for the city.

Tuesday, other Kenai residents voted down Kenai Proposition No. 1, which asked voters to repeal or keep the city’s recently completed comprehensive plan. Mark Schrag, who ran for a Kenai council seat and lost, filed the referendum. Voters elected to repeal the plan by a 580 to 221 margin.

The other three propositions address old charter code. Residents voted “yes” on Porpositions Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

Schrag said he filed the referendum to repeal the comprehensive plan for many reasons. The plan promotes developmental “sprawl.” It disregards the development of a city center. It ignores resident and business interests. Its public process was flawed, he said.

“I’ve been working two campaigns,” he said, “and I really feel Prop 1 is the important one.”

He is excited voters denied the plan. Though he lost his council campaign, he won his campaign to repeal the plan, he said.

Kohler said the plan needed to address all the city’s vacant buildings, like the Carrs Mall and the blue, broken-glass building across from the Regal Kambe, not seek to develop new ones. A good plan would target those for remodeling or destruction, she said.

Stuart said the zoning proposed in the plan promoted “sprawl.” And it was not a first; the history of the issue is evident in zoning past plans have approved, she said.

Supporters of the plan say it promoted centralizing development and establishing a city center — but few politicians even agree where the city center is.

“They say one thing but their plan says another,” she said.

Kohler wants the city to go back to square one and rework the plan. The proposed plan’s values did not align with hers, she said.

Henry Knackstedt, Planning and Zoning Commission vice chair, said more than $100,000 and hundreds of hours had been spent developing the plan. Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Jeff Twait said the plan was ready for approval.

Now repealed, Knackstedt said the voters threw out all that work.


Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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BigRedDog 10/02/13 - 08:45 am
Plan didn't follow directive

I remember the BIG meeting in the sky at the Kenai Senior Center. I say the sky from some of the request or dreams put forward by the public. Any pie in the sky request got as much time or more than most logical ideas brought forward. But the main focus was building a central business area and not following this boondoggle of commercializing Beaver Loop. Thus spreading the empty business sprawl further into our residential areas prized for privacy.
The proposed expansion of commercial zoning of B/L is a few folks to seeking fleece the increased traffic associated with the proposed newer roadway. It does make business since, especially if you think a position on the counsel is a means of expanding business where residents don't. When times get rough on the Kenai only very core businesses prosper. The proposal would only result in a business sprawl like the mess on K-Beach. It's great for a tax base and why a lot of businesses located on K/B to help customers avoid a City sales tax. So a high volume, easy access roadway is like honey to the bees. But it is simply contrary to the original plan.

granny 10/02/13 - 09:22 am

The voters threw out Henry Knackstedt's work, they didn't throw out my(Mark Schrag) work. Myself and others put way more work into that plan than Henry and his philosophical cohorts. We repeatedly pointed out the documented will of the voters of this town was being ignored by "their" new plan. Everyone in city government, who passed the new plan, from Henry on up to the mayor are the one's who wasted the time and money spent on it.

And while I'm grateful for yet another victory in this long running battle, I'm also resentful of the amount of time, money, and energy these battles have cost myself and others over the years.

And please don't talk about "going back to the table", because the same people who brought the flawed plan to the voters are still in place.

I hope if the present election results stand, that mayor Porter and councilman Gabriel will honor their campaign statements to respect the will of the voters on prop.1.

Mark Schrag. Proud supporter of responsible development for Kenai.

corinnep 10/02/13 - 10:17 am
Sour Grapes

Henry Knackstedt's sour grapes are funny.

Kenai voters have sent a puzzling message though. They repeal the plan but re-elect two of its chief architects and supporters, Pat Porter and Brian Gabriel?

So we want change when it comes to Kenai's future plan but we want to keep good old boy/cheerleader government in Kenai?

I'm not hopeful that Porter, Gabriel and their other allies in Kenai government (Koch, Tim Navarre) will stand down on the plan. Stayed tuned for more efforts to shove something like it down our throats again.

sjlashbrook 10/02/13 - 09:56 am
Henry Knackstedt seems

Henry Knackstedt seems confused about why the voters would "throw out all that work," of 100's of hours ... that work which cost the taxpayers $100,000 or more, blessed by Pat Porter and City Manager Rick Koch, who puppeteered past-City Planner Marilyn Kebschull's oversight of the City's new comprehensive plan so it would be "in their image." Like the Pink Gorilla's sign implied, It's OUR city, but it's THEIR plan!
I'm TIRED of sugar-coating it. Let me help you out, Henry, because although you sit on the Planning & Zoning Commission, you're having a "blonde moment" apparently: How many times did the esteemed P&Z Commission limit or refuse to allow comments from the lowly public during those comprehensive plan sessions? Both Porter and Koch who "drove" the plan, (because they drive EVERYTHING that happens in the City) refused to truly seek and then follow the views of the people they supposedly represent. As ALWAYS, it's THEIR WAY or the HIGHWAY (pun intended).
For instance, Highland Pride Mobile Home Park has been in its current out-of-the-way location since 1969, about 44 years. It's neighbors moved in AFTERWARDS. (Apparently it just occurred to them that they bought cheap land near a mobile home park). In November of 2006, after a neighbor's foiled attempt to buy the park, he complained about the park to the Mayor. In response, Pat Porter was instrumental in ensuring that mobile home parks including Highland be deemed "non-conforming" properties, so when a mobile home needed more than 10% of its value in repairs, the City could condemn it and "get rid of these old trailers." (How about the people IN them, Pat, want to get rid of them too?) Porter also made it much more difficult for a mobile home to move into a mobile home park--in effect having a detrimental effect on a park owner's (small businesses) bottom line. With the onset of the City's new 2013 comprehensive plan, about a dozen residents of Highland mobile home park asked the City to deem it what it's been for 44 years: a "mixed-use" property, or "suburban residential," so that they might finally rid themselves of the "non-conforming" status and be able to repair their homes like everyone else. NO, the City and its Planning & Zoning Commission said, because Porter and Koch don't want it that way... and they always get what they want -- never mind what the residents of the park wanted. The irony is that then, the P&Z Commission turned around and made the ENTIRE KENAI SPUR HIGHWAY a "mixed-use" designation, when those residents simply wanted it left alone as mostly rural residential!
So pardon me, I had to LMAO when citizen Jim Magee stated he voted for Porter because, "Porter has no political agenda... The mayor only has the community in mind, and she lives locally." No political agenda? Wow... talk about left field.... Where do YOU live, Magee, ON THE MOON?
Here's another example of where Pat Porter's loyalties lie: At the 11th hour, right before the plan was approved, the Council unbelievably voted DOWN an amendment to the new Plan “to support the residential character of neighborhoods in residential zones.” WHO in their right mind would vote DOWN an amendment like that? Pat Porter, Brian Gabriel, and Tim Navarre, that's who! Who voted FOR it? Terry Bookey, Ryan Marquis, and Bob Molloy! Without a majority, however, unfortunately it DID NOT PASS! SO WE REPEALED IT!!!!!! Now does it make sense, Henry?
Yet, City Voters just apparently voted Pat Porter and Brian Gabriel back in ... even though they voted to REPEAL the MAJOR WORK these two accomplished this past year!!! What a DISCONNECT! HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN? The only thing I can think of is that the voters ARE NOT CONNECTING THE DOTS. They don't know what happens at council meetings. They don't know that their candidates are feeding them B.S. because people are too busy trying to earn a living and get by, to take the time to truly understand the voting records of the candidates before they vote. People are voting BLINDLY, without knowing the truth, and they are believing the B.S. that Pat Porter, Tim Navarre, and Brian Gabriel spew without checking the FACTS. So I'm going to help out with that from now on.
So let me make a BOLD statement: If she does get reelected as Mayor, perhaps a Recall Petition might be in order sometime in the next three years, when the people learn the truth about Pat Porter. Because I, for one, am TIRED OF BEING POLITE and SILENT on the facts, tired of being "politically correct," and TIRED OF THE TRUTH being COVERED-UP. Our local politicians have counted upon the truth of their records going unnoticed because people are just too darn busy to figure it out. So, from now on, you're going to hear all the cold, hard, ugly truth about our local "leaders" from me and from others who are likewise fed up... so if they think they will continue to fool ALL the people, they better think again.
This is WHY I donned the Pink Gorilla suit the past few days: in honor of all the work the MAPS subdivision people with the Pink Gorilla campaign did in 2009 when they put the City in its place back then.... AND to encourage people to do it one more time, by GIVING THE BOOT to "THEIR" PLAN! Goooooo Gorilla! So you'll know when the City comes up with some more ridiculous crap, because you'll probably see the Pink Gorilla rise it's head once again..... But I want to make a disclaimer that the opinions in this piece are my own, and not those of anyone else then or now.
IN THE MEANTIME, if you want more of the facts about why we FLUSHED the City's "hard work" and "100's of hours," you can find the TRUTH at . Go ahead, check it out. I guarantee you'll learn something that will shock you.

janetate 10/02/13 - 06:59 pm
It is puzzling that people

It is puzzling that people voted the comprehensive plan out, yet voted in the people who backed it and who appointed the Planning and Zoning people who over and over did not listen to city residents.
My acquaintance on Beaver Loop had a Pat Porter sign in their yard. Did they not realize that Jeff Twait (appointed by Porter) stated that he really doesn't predict that houses will remain on Beaver Loop due to the increased traffic and development that is soon to come? These peoples' house is right next to the road. I wonder when they will come to their senses. Maybe in another 3 years??

granny 10/03/13 - 10:09 am

They'll come to their senses when they get the little colored postcard that announces a rezoning hearing. Had it not been for a "one-note Johnny" like myself and a few others, there's a darn good chance they'd be getting that notice right about now. janetate states it well, Beaver Loop was dropped from commercialization on the new plan, but not without a lot of pressure and a definite message it would be coming back.

I find some of those comments in the article above very disheartening personally. If not for me, with the help of a few others, filing the referendum to get prop1 on the ballot, the new plan would be in place and rezone applications for the Spur would be coming in. I've been in this fight for going on 17 years now and I've seen it exact a huge toll on many people. I'm one of the few left standing to fight it. If I'm a one issue person, it's because the other side keeps bringing it back.

So Jodi and Natalie and others who want to control commercialization along the roadways of Kenai, I thank-you for the support, but I'm done carrying the water for you.

I've been part of several great efforts to not just fight city hall, but to win. I've still got plenty of energy in me for the fight, but I'm not dumb enough to continue beating my head against the wall if you keep sending the people back to city hall that won't let the fight die. Mark my word, unless some new people step up, this past election will lead to the end of the rezone wars, and Pat and Tim and Brian and their philosophy of development will win. Mark Schrag

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 10/03/13 - 10:27 am
Granny some people just never

Granny some people just never learn and keep on doing the same things in spite of warning that try to help them from suffering loss.
At least you cared enough to try and stop the madness. I too don't understand voting down one aspect of the problem and voting in the other, go figure a?
As you said, time will reveal all things as we go forward and those pink slips prevent us from happiness for the future.

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