AP NEWS

Alaska mayor defends city response to illegal homeless camps

June 7, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, is defending the city after some state lawmakers said it hasn’t done enough to deal with illegal homeless camps.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says the city’s trails are safe even though Anchorage is fending for itself on complicated problems without help the state usually provides, the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

Nine Alaska lawmakers sent a letter to Berkowitz on Monday saying Anchorage could more aggressively clear public land. City officials said the letter did not offer realistic solutions.

It follows a shooting Sunday that killed a man and wounded a juvenile and gunshots and an arrest Saturday near the Chester Creek trail, one of Anchorage’s best-known recreational thoroughfares.

The circumstances around the weekend crimes had nothing to do with the trail, Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll said.

“It happened to be there, but it’s not something that trail users need to be concerned about,” Doll said.

Berkowitz said the lawmakers sent their letter to the media before he saw it, adding, “I don’t think I was the intended audience.”

The city’s strategy of clearing out homeless camps by zones is working, and residents can expect to see more bike patrols and camp cleanups in the coming weeks, Berkowitz said.

The mayor has said the state is not fulfilling obligations to provide mental health and drug and alcohol treatment.

The city is “happy to work with anyone who is able to contribute toward solving the problem,” including state lawmakers, Berkowitz said.

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Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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