I’ve been a commercial fisherman in Kodiak for nearly 25 years. Over that time I’ve known many fellow fisherman who really loved it here in Kodiak and really wanted to stay. But because of the horrendous cost of living – of which an onerous and often times absurd code standard played no small part – they had no chance of ever earning enough money to put down roots and stay here in Kodiak. These are just the people I knew personally. Imagine how many others have went down this same path in the last 25 years. Retired people are also leaving for the same reason. It cost too much to retire here, in a large part, thanks to the code. The code has helped drive the cost of housing through the roof (no pun intended) which in turn, of course, increases property taxes to absurd levels for a retired person or couple. This exodus, I’ve noticed (as have most everybody else), has turned into something akin to a stampede in the last few years.

Many of these fisherman who moved away still fish for a living but only come here to work. They live on the boat and take all of their earning with them when they leave Kodiak. The detrimental effects of this toward our local economy are well understood, so I don’t think I need to elaborate on it.

Allowing a one time exemption to the building code for a single family home would be a boom for Kodiak! I don’t think many people understand how much easier, less time consuming, and how much cheaper it is to build a house, on your own schedule, when not under the thumb and ever watchful eye of a bureaucrat who doesn’t give two cents whether or not he just cost you another $5000! Many of these bureaucrats don’t care! I’ve seen it with my own eyes. It seems, a few of them even enjoy making people’s lives miserable!

This exemption doesn’t mean that people will completely stop following code. The code inspectors and engineers will still be available to answer questions but it will be voluntary. The borough can and absolutely should let it be known that folks can still come in to get advise and they should absolutely encourage people to do so. They can let it be known that a house built to code probably will have a higher resale value and is much more likely to qualify for a loan, is probably safer and will probably last longer.

There are many small towns in Alaska that have virtually no building code at all and I’m pretty sure not a single one of them have ever spontaneously combusted. It’s amusing when I hear someone say something like this: “Do you think people should just be able to do whatever they want on their own property?” Being the Libertarian minded person that I am, the answer to that question is an overwhelming YES! For the vast majority of recorded history in this country there was effectively no code. Guess what? Neighbors, for the most part got along just fine. In fact, they mostly got along better than we do today because there was no authority figure to complain to so they had no choice but to work it out amongst themselves.

In those days before code, the only law, for the most part was known as Common Law. Common Law essentially means if no one is harmed than no crime has been committed! This ridiculously simply system worked extremely well for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the 1930s via the implementation of Unified Commercial Code (UCC) that these codes started to spread across the land – slowly at first. By the 1960s, thanks to the municipal incorporation frenzy, code was spreading like the plague.

The point in mentioning all of this above, is that these millions upon millions of codes, statutes, rules, regulations, laws that have been enacted over the past 70 years or so, are not normal. They are the exception not the rule. In order to see the absolute absurdity of these codes, pretend to take a trip back to 1899 and try to explain to those people just how great code is and that they all should adopt it for themselves. You might just wind up on the wrong end of a rope.

Although I would agree that some people have lost much of their common sense, in general, people are smarter than many give them credit for. I think I’ve talked to Dan Rohrer about this before. I believe the reason why some people have lost much of their common sense is because (this reason is self evident if you think about a little) of the fact that we/us have been fully indoctrinated in the belief of the absolute necessity of the nanny state. We are so used to asking “authority” for permission to do virtually anything on our own property that we have forgotten what it used to be like to be a Free Man or Women. In other words, we have been treated as children for so long, we have learned to act as children who depend on an authority figure to tell us what we can or can’t do. Learned behaviors can easily be unlearned. Like a teenager turning into an adult, there will of course be problems along the way, but that’s part of growing up.

Fifty, sixty or seventy years ago most people built their own homes on their own property, at night and on the weekends. Most of these people paid cash for these homes. They would simply buy the building supplies as they went. When the house was finished it was owned out right by the builder, not by a bank! This is another major reason for allowing this exemption. Many banks run criminal operations. Many of them, including Wells Fargo have plead guilty to many different crimes, including, money laundering, fraud, racketeering, drug trafficking, embezzlement of customer money, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if Kodiak had a huge population of independent, ambitious, young families that didn’t give most of their income, as interest, to a criminal organization that invests virtually nothing back into the community? Imagine how much more money would flow throughout Kodiak!

If these people building their own homes, back in the day, would have had thousands of pages of code to hinder them, along with a code enforcer harassing them, many of these people never would have built a house in the first place! So, a lot of the houses here in Kodiak that were built 60 or 70 years ago would not be here now. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR MINUTE! I wonder how many people that oppose the code exemption are living in a house that was built before code was forced upon us, mostly via federal block grants? If hypocrisy was a bug sitting on the end of their nose, they wouldn’t see it.

Most people who do not already have a house in this town will never be able to afford one. How many can afford $60,000 down and $2000 per month? This town is becoming, in many ways, a gated community. People who live in million dollar houses and those who live in run down roach infested apartments. The building code is widening that gap even as I write this note!

Once in a while We, the People, get a small reprieve from the code. But for every step back, the code takes 10 steps forward. You got to ask yourself…”where is this leading? How does it play out? What’s the endgame?” If this code continues to grow and manifest itself in the malignant manner that is has for the last few decades, there will literally only be two classes of people in Kodiak! It’s quite obvious to any one who looks that this two tier system (The Haves and the Have Nots) has already taken root here in Kodiak. The question now is, “how long will we allow this Cancer to spread before cutting it out”!

Kodiak can be wonderful place for children to grow up. My daughter is lucky. She has an acre of property to enjoy. She has a horse, chickens, tree fort, buoy swing, zip line, trampoline, hoop house/garden! She’s having an amazing childhood! Children growing up in a tiny rundown, cockroach infested apartment? Not so much.

I realize that the firemen who spoke up at the last meeting meant well, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with. Most of these firemen are from out of town. They come here for a two year stint in the Coast Guard and want to make this town like the one in the lower 48 that they just left. Just because it may be a good thing where they are from, does not make it a good thing here. Many people, including myself originally came to Kodiak and settled down because of the independence and semi-subsistence lifestyle that can be enjoyed here. As a direct result of the “good intentions” of a few people that think they are going to take care of us and “keep us safe”, whether we like it or not, the fundamental reasons why most of us moved here in the first place are compromised.

Many of the people sitting on the Borough Assembly and working in borough government bought or built their houses for pennies on the dollar of what it would costs now. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a young family just starting out in Kodiak. The best gift we could possible give them is a realistic shot at owning their own home so they too can raise their children on this amazing Island!

Jamie Fagan