Proposals to limit cruise activity in Juneau falter

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Supporters of efforts to limit cruise ship traffic in Juneau said they failed to gather enough signatures to qualify their proposals for a vote.

A group of Juneau-area residents behind the effort needed to collect signatures from nearly 3,000 registered Juneau voters for each of the three proposed measures to qualify the questions for an Oct. 5 municipal election. Karla Hart, a leader of the group, said the group failed to do so.

She declined to say how many signatures were collected, KTOO Public Media reported. Wednesday was the deadline to turn in signatures.

One of the proposed measures sought to prohibit cruise ships that carry more than 250 passengers from docking or anchoring in Juneau between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and another sought to ban them from docking or anchoring on Saturdays.

The third proposal sought to bar cruise ships larger than 100,000 gross tonnage from being at dock or anchor after Jan. 1, 2026.

Hart’s group submitted a letter to the mayor and Juneau Assembly that asks local officials to impose some limits and cruise ship companies and tour operators to voluntarily limit some of their activities, such as not offering shore excursions for large cruise ships at certain times.

“We’re going to give the city the chance, and the industry, to do the right thing,” Hart said. “And if they don’t, we’ll be back.”

The proposed ballot questions were the subject of vigorous debate in Juneau, where tourism is a major industry and state and local officials and businesses pushed for cruise ship travel to resume after the pandemic halted cruises last year.

Laura Martinson, a downtown gift shop owner and co-chair of the group Protect Juneau’s Future, which opposed the proposed ballot measures, said she was grateful. Martinson sees an opportunity for discussion and work to continue on managing the growth of the visitor industry.

City officials are beginning to work through recommendations from a task force that looked at that issue but whose work was interrupted by the pandemic.

Assembly member Carole Triem, the task force chair, said some recommendations have been implemented. Discussion on a city staff position focused on impacts from tourism was expected soon, she said.