By Gretchen Wehmhoff

Private property owners are now permitted to house recreational vehicles for habitation over the next two cruise ship seasons. The Skagway Borough Assembly passed Resolution 21-29R, “establishing a plan to temporarily provide annual permits allowing for the habitation of recreational vehicles.”

The resolution serves to extend a similar resolution, 18-12R, which sunsetted on May 1. 

The closure of Garden City RV Park, and the expiration of the 2018 resolution allowing property owners to house seasonal workers or visitors on private property, created a frenzy of concern about where seasonal workers and residents will park their RVs next summer. Originally, a new RV park was to replace the 87 spaces lost in Garden City. Plans to extend utilities over the Skagway River to a new RV park never materialized and left the city without spaces.  

With the new resolution, property owners will pay $300 for an annual permit valid April through October. There is a limit of one permit per lot.

RVs are required to be driveable or mobile and must be licensed and registered as required by the State of Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles.

The lot owners will need to “properly’’ connect the RV to water and sewer utilities as well as install a GFI electrical outlet. Proof of utility payment will ensure the account is in the owner’s name. 

Permits will be approved by the borough permitting official and are subject to life-safety inspections and compliance with the utility requirements.

Assembllymember Orion Hanson introduced the resolution after meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission. He said the commission was not totally supportive of the plan. He relayed a concern that Skagway Police would need to know the locations of the RVs and suggested that there be coordination between permitting and dispatch. Hanson said there were 13 permits issued under the 2018 resolution.

Hanson said he believed it should be dealt with now rather than later as it gives “some security for …  employees who come up seasonally.” 

Assemblymember Sam Bass suggested the cap of 30 be removed. After discussion, the assembly approved not limiting the number of permits.

Bass later suggested that the cost of preparing for sewer and water hook ups would deter folks from getting the permits.

Hanson said the issue is about sanitation.  

“It’s a necessary cost … I know in the past when there weren’t permits people were dumping their waste in places they should not be,” he said.

Bass argued that the RVs are self-contained and some can hold gray water and fresh water for several weeks.

Assemblymember Dustin Stone said that some of the units will be rented and renters should have flushing toilets and sewer.  

Stone also spoke in support of the resolution, noting that two out of the three years of the 2018 resolution were caught in seasons impacted by the pandemic, and there are fewer RV spaces available now.

Assemblymember Jay Burnham shared that he had one of the previous permits and that the permitting officials came to check his unit to make sure it was in good shape. 

“Everyone of them is going to get checked. They have to comply with the things in this resolution,” he said.