Sitka denies second citizen petition to limit cruise visitors

Summer tourists in downtown Sitka (File/KCAW)

For the second time, the City of Sitka has denied a citizen’s petition to put cruise limitations out to voters in a special election this winter. Organizer Larry Edwards received notice from the city on Thursday that a petition he sponsored with more than 40 other Sitkans was rejected. 

An opinion from municipal attorney Brian Hanson said the new petition would be legally unenforceable due to provisions that were “confusing, misleading and incomplete.” 

Read Hanson’s full opinion and the city’s response here

This is Edwards’ second attempt to get a cruise limit ballot question off the ground. The first was denied by city hall in September. While there were some small differences in the two proposals, both sought to limit next year’s cruise visitors to 240,000 with weekly and daily limits, and would have required cruise ships to secure permits with the city. 

In a statement, Larry Edwards wrote that the decision to dismiss the application was, “a naked political decision, contrary to the principles of our democracy and citizen use of the initiative process,” and the city “was grasping at straws to stop a public vote.” 

Read Edwards’ full statement here

The push to limit cruise visitors in Sitka follows two summers of record-breaking traffic. This summer over 560,000 people visited the community by cruise ship, more than double any other year in Sitka’s history, prior to 2022. 

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