DATE: January 16, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Heather Marlow, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: CSP2000-00010

PROPOSAL: A City project review of the expansion of Douglas Harbor launching, mooring and parking facilities.


Applicant: CBJ Docks & Harbor Department

Property Owner: City and Borough of Juneau

Property Address: Savikko Road & Douglas Harbor Basin

Project Location: Douglas Boat Harbor

Parcel Code No.: 2-D04-0-T32-005-0, 006-0, 007-0

Site Size: Approximately 135 Acres

Zoning: WI, Waterfront Industrial

Utilities: CBJ Sewer and Water

Access: Savikko Road

Existing Land Use: Boat Harbor and Tidelands

Surrounding Land Use: North - Gastineau Channel

South - Sandy Beach Municipal Park

East - Mayflower Island

West - Downtown Douglas



The Planning Commission first considered this project on December 12, 2000. At that time consideration was continued and staff was asked to provide more detail on the site plan, potential land use code compatibility and coordination of off-site drainage issues. Below is an updated staff report. The project is presented in its entirety. New material is underlined.



The Douglas Boat Harbor was constructed by DOT/PF in 1963. In 1997, the Army Corps of Engineers dredged approximately 25,000 cubic yards from the entrance channel to straighten and lower this portion of the basin to –14 feet mean lower low water. In 1998, the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) constructed seven additional stalls to bring the harbor to its present configuration. The adjacent Savikko Park area is founded, in part, on uplands that were created using dredge disposal methods from the original harbor construction. The project has been on the CBJ project list since 1986.



The harbor expansion project is presented as a master plan. This review briefly summarizes the features and phases of the master plan. Additional project details and agency conditions have been submitted by the applicant and are attached. The project site plan, Douglas Harbor Master Plan No. 8A, identifies the six development areas and four phases. This review covers all phases and development areas except for Area 4, the commercial dock area, as a proposed use has yet to be identified.

Dredge/Fill Activities

The project has received or applied for necessary state and federal development permits. Project reviews and conditions from Alaska Division of Governmental Coordination, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers are attached.

As proposed, two upland areas will be created with retaining structures (Area 1 and Area 5) and the existing Mayflower Island access road will be expanded and reinforced (Area 2). The retaining structures will provide for storm water treatment through a collection and oil/water separator system.

For Area 5, approximately 50,000 cubic yards will be dredged from Douglas Harbor and placed behind a "confined disposal facility." The details of this facility are discussed in attachment 1, page 3. All surplus dredge spoils, approximately 15,000 cubic yards, are proposed for ocean disposal within Gastineau Channel. The disposal site was used previously by the Army Corps of Engineers for the 1997 dredge project in Douglas harbor.

The parking expansion along Savikko Road, Area 1, will incorporate dredge material from the Alaska Steamship Dock in downtown Juneau. Approximately 2,400 cubic yards of contaminated material will be removed from the north end of the berth to improve the safety and function of the moorage site for cruise ships. The Steamship Dock dredge activities are discussed in more detail in attachment 2. The contaminated material will be barged to Douglas and placed in Area 1, above the saturated groundwater level and below the paved surface to control the migration of contaminates.

Fill material from an undetermined gravel extraction site will be trucked to the site for the remaining fill needs for Areas 1, 2 and 5. Approximately 100,000 cubic yards of large and small material will be transported. The three fill areas are proposed for development in different years, which will diffuse the impact of the transport activity. Standard conditions for gravel transport on public roads are provided as a part of this review.


The Docks & Harbors Department has a waiting list for moorage in four slip length categories. The proposed project is intended to focus primarily on the wait list categories with the greatest backlog. Douglas Harbor currently provides moorage for approximately 120 vessels between 16 and 42 feet in length and provides about 300 linear feet of transient moorage. The proposed project will provide harbor moorage for approximately 182 vessels between 16 and 42 feet in length as well as 1,140 linear feet of transient moorage.

Launch Ramps

The harbor currently provides a single boat launch ramp that is approximately 200 feet in length. Due to user demand, the ramp and associated parking is considered to be inadequate. As proposed, the south launch ramp will be used for non-trailered craft. The trailer parking at this ramp will remain for a time uncertain, as discussed below.

A two-lane launch ramp with trailer and vehicle parking will be constructed in Area 5, above the dredge and fill material. A boarding float approximately 8’ X 280’ will extend seaward from shore between the launch lanes to provide temporary moorage for vessels during launch operations. The launch area adjoins the new trailer/vehicle parking area.


Parking standards for boat harbors vary with the demands of user groups. A partial list of user groups could include recreational boaters, commercial fishing vessels, charter boats, tour boats, government vessels and live-aboards. The CBJ Land Use code provides a parking requirement for pleasure craft moorages of one space per three moorage stalls and does not address requirements for other user groups.

The master plan proposes to retain the existing parking on the upland side of Savikko Road, to reconstruct Savikko Road and to develop 217 new parking spaces and 52 new trailer spaces. Given that the ratio between recreational and commercial moorage stalls will fluctuate, and therefore the associated parking demand, the amount of parking proposed by the plan does not meet any particular requirement but is within agency and industry recommendations as discussed below.

Site Design

As a part of the project, Savikko Road will be reconstructed between the First Street intersection and Mayflower Island. The access road will be improved with sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks. The project will incorporate landscaping, rockery and street furniture to improve the appearance of the waterfront and parking areas. Public facilities including bathrooms, bulletin boards, garbage containers, hazardous material containers and payphones will be installed adjacent to the new launch ramps.

Additional coordination between the Docks & Harbors/Parks & Recreation Departments will occur. The proposed project will occupy areas currently utilized by the Parks & Recreation Department for storage of materials, tools and vehicles. A use and maintenance arrangement between the departments will be discussed in the near future.

Private Tidelands

The development plan proposes to fill existing tidelands that are publicly and privately owned. The applicant proposes to fill private lands with owners retaining ownership of entire parcels. This arrangement will provide property owners with improved access to the road network.

The applicant owns what is identified as parcel 4 (between parcels 7 and 12) on the master plan. The applicant is considering subdividing this parcel in half to create two lots that would be similar in size and arrangement to parcel 12. Each lot created would be approximately 4,500 square feet (50’ W X 90’ L) and exceed minimum subdivision requirements for lot area and dimensions. With negotiations, ownership of the two new parcels may be transferred to the owners of the adjacent uplands parcels (8 and 9 on the master plan). The applicant presents both options (no subdivision and a minor subdivision) with this review, as current negotiations consider both alternatives.

Each of the existing and proposed lots that front on the harbor parking lot will have standard driveway access to the travel aisle on the west side of the project. The travel aisle is similar to a typical public road as the distance between the east property line of the tideland parcels and the centerline of the travel aisle is 30’.


The applicant has submitted drainage plans for the master plan and on the private properties to the west of Area 5. In brief, the applicant proposes to develop a drainage collection system with oil/water separators to serve Areas 1 and 5.

The applicant has proposed a separate collection system and oil water separator to serve the properties to the west of Area 5. Typical sections and elevations are provided at attachment 4. For this area, the drainage lines are depicted on the master plan, with an outfall on the north side of Dock Street. The drainage plan will be reviewed and approved through the CBJ building/grading permit review process.  

Retaining Walls

The Commission has heard testimony regarding concern for the proximity of the proposed retaining walls and existing private pilings/structures. It appears that some of the private pilings are treated and others are not. Treating piles protects and preserves the integrity of the structural support. Identifying the degree of accelerated rot or deterioration that the retaining walls may cause is not considered to be quantifiable or predictable as untreated piles are already considered to be in a state of decay. However, for liability purposes, the applicant proposes to document the condition of private piles adjacent to Area 5 prior to the issuance of a CBJ building or grading permit and upon completion of Area 5.

Treated piles are not anticipated to be effected by the proposed retaining walls. There are numerous examples of enclosed, treated piles that are exposed to tidal fluctuations beneath structures along Franklin and Front Streets. Both of these public streets incorporate retaining walls that are adjacent to the pile supports. Exposure to sunlight and natural elements actually increases the deterioration of treated piles.


The concepts discussed above will be developed as elements of the master plan. The plan identified four phases, of which the first phase is funded. The development of additional phases will require the cooperation of other agencies and dedicated finances.

The phases are identified as follows:

Phase 1 - Dredge basin, construct confined disposal facility, construct launch ramps and provide unpaved parking area on fill (Area 5). Anticipated completion in 2001.

Phase 2 – Install new moorage (Area 3), construct additional Savikko Road parking (Area 1), reconstruct Savikko Road, pave parking areas and install landscaping. Anticipated completion in 2002.

Phase 2A – With federal participation, develop commercial dock for an identified user (Area 4) and install entrance protection. Estimated completion in 2003.

Phase 3 – Reconstruct Mayflower Island entrance road (Area 2) and reconfigure existing floats (Area 6). Anticipated completion in 2003.

Each phase coordinates a launching or moorage expansion with additional parking and public facilities.


The Savikko Park and Douglas Harbor areas are constrained by parking and site circulation issues, particularly during the spring and summer. The limited uplands and congested site contributes to conflicts between cars, truck/trailers, bicyclists, pedestrians and user groups. With the expansion of the harbor facilities and construction of the proposed ice rink, this

activity area may begin to experience more year round issues. This will become more apparent as the potential for future commercial development in the harbor/park area is realized.

While the subject area has received considerable attention from the two overseeing bodies, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Docks and Harbors Board, we note that many of the existing conflicts between users will remain as vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic is funneled into one waterfront corridor. The proposed site plan does not clearly identify pavement striping, site lighting, sidewalks or bike lanes. A condition of this review requires submittal of a site plan with the final pavement cross sections, striping, signing, lighting, parking, landscaping and vegetative cover information. With Phase II development, staff will work with the Docks & Harbors/Parks & Recreation Departments on details to improve the function and appearance of the park and harbor area for all users.

Since the Planning Commission reviewed the project at the 12/12/00 regular meeting, the applicant has continued negotiation efforts with property owners to the west of Area 5. As the Harbor Department and the Board have jurisdiction over harbor facilities, property acquisitions, agreements and leasing, we recommend a condition below to address the need for property issues to be finaled before construction begins.

Title 49 provides that the Planning Commission review city projects according to the provisions of Title 49, the CBJ Land Use Code, and the CIP. The master plan may return to the Planning Commission in the future if the director determines that changes that warrant additional review are proposed.

Comprehensive Plan

The proposed project is considered in the Plan. The guidelines for sub-area 10 on page 199 state:

Consider expansion of the harbor for increased moorage, transient facilities, grid and more parking, and the feasibility of accommodating cruise ship traffic.

Several policies and actions address the project, as follows:

Policy 2.14. It is the policy of the CBJ to facilitate availability of sufficient and suitable acreage for port facilities, and to work closely with the public and private sectors to facilitate commerce and enhancement of the waterfront through development of well designed port facilities.

Implementing Action 2.14.5. Over the near term, encourage in-filling and completion of existing port facilities prior to establishment of new sites.

Policy 5.9. It is the policy of the CBJ to designate and reserve waterfront land with adequate services and in appropriate locations for water-dependent or related commercial/industrial activities while protecting important wildlife, habitat and other coastal resources.

Implementing Action 5.9.4. Maintain and improve design review procedures to assure that proposals for waterfront development are evaluated in regard to site design, building placement, parking, landscaping, exterior lighting, and other factors related to surrounding properties, land uses and public facilities.

Capital Improvement Project List (CIP)

The Douglas Harbor expansion project was placed at the top of the six-year CIP Priority List for the Docks & Harbors Department in 1986. The first serious investigation towards Douglas Harbor expansion occurred in 1990-91, when extensive public meetings and development analysis occurred. The opportunity arose, in early 1998, to include the Douglas Harbor expansion in the Proposition #3 Sales Tax project list. There are sufficient funds dedicated, or identified for allocation, to cover the cost of Phase I. Funding for Phase II has not been dedicated but the passenger fee is considered to be a likely source in FY’02 or FY’03. Funding for the additional phases will require cooperation from state and federal agencies.

Land Use Code

ParkingThe CBJ Land Use code provides a pleasure craft moorage requirement of one space per three moorage stalls at CBJ 49.40.210(a). As the harbor will be occupied by other user groups, alternate parking guidelines are considered in this review.

Parking standards have been provided for harbor planning purposes by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, American Society of Civil Engineers and States for Organized Boating Access. These guidelines recommend 50 trailer parking spaces per lane of launch ramp, with a minimum requirement of 20 each. For the proposed two-lane facility in Douglas, the recommended number of trailer stalls is 40-100. The project proposes 54 new trailer spaces (see Area 5, Concept C).

A 1998 Army Corps of Engineers study for Douglas Harbor recommended that 30 parking spaces should be provided to support the non-trailered launch ramp. The existing parking layout provides 14 adjacent trailer spaces that could otherwise accommodate 28 vehicles. At this ramp, the existing trailer parking will remain to a date uncertain. The Parks & Recreation/Docks & Harbors Departments will monitor trailer parking in this area and determine the appropriate parking use, trailer or vehicle, after several seasons of expanded operations.

The parking requirement for the harbor development is the sum of the spaces required for recreational, commercial, live-aboard and launch users. The required parking is difficult to determine as the ratio between users will frequently change and can not be predicted. Using some interpretation, at a minimum, 63 spaces would be required for the existing harbor and launch ramp. Considering the proposed master plan, the minimum number of parking spaces required would be 140. Neither of these numbers account for higher intensity uses such as live-aboards or commercial vessels.

The 1998 Army Corps of Engineers study for Douglas Harbor recommends 0.6 parking spaces per recreational vessel berth and 2.0 parking spaces per commercial vessel berth. For discussion purposes, we have assumed two-thirds occupancy by recreational users and applied the less

restrictive requirement of the land use code, one space per three moorage stalls. We further assumed the remaining harbor space would be occupied by commercial and live-aboard vessels, and applied a recommended 2 spaces per berth.

Coupled with the 30 spaces recommended for the non-trailered launch ramp, and a minimum of 40 spaces recommended for the new ramps, the total number of recommended parking spaces is 257. The project proposes to develop 217 new vehicle spaces, 52 new trailer spaces and to continue to use 14 existing trailer spaces, totaling 283 spaces. As the parking rates are largely provided as recommendations, the recommended parking allowance assumes 100% facility occupancy and additional joint use parking with Savikko Park naturally occurs, it appears that the master plan will adequately provide for harbor parking and improve opportunities for Savikko Park users as well.

Landscaping – The CBJ Land Use Code does not directly address landscaping or vegetative cover requirements for boat harbors. The code does require five percent of the site to be developed with vegetative cover in waterfront industrial zoning districts, per CBJ 49.50.300. This code section goes on to state that "public institutional uses" are required to provide vegetative cover on thirty percent of the lot area. While this term is not defined, it seems appropriate to interpret the general intent of the code to be that a public boat harbor should provide more vegetation than would otherwise be required by zoning.

With the reconstruction of public facilities, we believe that it is important to provide green space and preserve natural vegetation to promote the appearance of the area. The CBJ conducted a visual preference survey for various types of development in April 2000. A large, plain, parking surface received no votes. Rather, the public overwhelmingly preferred small lots, well landscaped and hidden from view. As three separate parking areas will be created, the CBJ has the opportunity and an obligation to create visually pleasing and practical public areas that enhance the appearance and function of the community.

The optimum Douglas Harbor facility would have more moorage and parking, and more impact to the surrounding area. The project, as presented, has been scaled down to a size that reasonably considers all of the issues, including financing. While developing significant green spaces on expensive and limited harbor uplands seems somewhat out of balance, the project presents an opportunity to provide 5 percent of the lot area, or project area, with vegetative cover that is intended to break up and relieve the appearance of parking lot areas and preserves existing natural areas including tidelands and adjacent uplands. Formal landscaping, rock work and street furniture is proposed throughout the project area to address the intent of the code with respect to public facilities.

Lighting – Savikko Road and the Douglas Harbor areas have limited street and parking lot lighting. The project proposes lighting the gangways, harbor floats and new parking areas. All lights will have shielded sides, or a similarly effective design, to eliminate glare and direct lighting.


As presented by Alaska Department of Transportation, the 1999 average daily traffic volumes for the adjoining section of Douglas Highway is 4,659 vehicle trips. Depending upon seasonal and weekday variations, 3,000-5,000 vehicle trips a day occur on the west end of Douglas Highway (Third Street). Traffic volumes increase on Douglas Highway to approximately 12,000 vehicles a day at the Cordova Street intersection. Given the low traffic volume in this section of the highway, and the reduced speeds, additional traffic generated by the facility can be accommodated by the supporting roads and intersections.

Construction activity will generate a substantial amount of traffic. For the transport of fill materials alone, approximately 12,000 trips will be required for Area 5, 3,600 trips for Area 1 and 4,400 trips for Area 2. Restricted haul hours are a condition of this review to offset impacts to congested travel periods and areas.

Private Lots

The project proposes to fill tideland lots. The Docks & Harbors Department intends to maintain or expand private property ownership in this tideland area. Lots will be provided with improved access to the road network. However, compatibility with the CBJ subdivision requirement for lot frontage on a publicly maintained road will not be improved. If future development, including subdivision, is proposed, we anticipate that the proposed travel aisle will meet the intent of the public road frontage requirement of the CBJ Land Use Code.


The project has received a determination of consistency from the Alaska Coastal Management Program review process. The review and conditions are provided at attachment 3.

Douglas Harbor is designated as a Special Waterfront Area. Special Waterfront Areas are intended to provide both land and water space for uses and activities, which are directly related to or essential to maritime activities. Maritime activities include recreational boating, cruise ships, transient pleasure vessels, commercial fishing, charter boats, float plane activity and any other activity involving the human use of water bodies for sport, recreation or commerce. Parking for such facilities is considered an accessory use and is appropriate in the Special Waterfront Area. The CBJ has previously determined that Special Waterfront Areas are appropriate where tidelands are relatively unproductive and are more suitable for coastal development than other areas. Additionally, Section 49.70.960(a)(2) specifically states the following:

Fill proposals within the Special Waterfront Areas are not subject

to the fill prohibition of Section 49.70.905(13) relating to coastal

development. Each fill proposal shall be individually reviewed to

ensure that configuration, timing, composition and construction

practices will minimize impacts on habitats and meet the water

quality standards and other JCMP provisions. The size of any

fill shall not exceed that necessary for the use unless a larger fill

in needed to maintain integrity of the fill, maintain or enhance

habitat values, or to fulfil other enforceable provisions of this section.

The project proposes a significant increase in parking facilities. We anticipate that if more parking were provided, it too would be occupied at times. The fill proposed is for a project that has been scaled down to a lesser size than demand would otherwise dictate. Expansion of the harbor in this area was chosen in order to avoid expansion towards Savikko Park and Sandy Beach.

The JCMP also provides that recreational developments shall not impair views and shall improve the aesthetic value of the area whenever possible (CBJ 49.70.915). The project includes features to improve viewing opportunities. If properly landscaped and designed, the new harbor facility should improve the aesthetics and function of the harbor area.

With a condition on providing for landscaping details, the project complies with the JCMP. 


The director finds the proposed project, Douglas Harbor Master Plan No. 8A, to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, the CBJ Land Use Code, the JCMP and the CIP. There are several conditions necessary to address the provisions of the CBJ Land Use Code. The project will provide needed moorage facilities and better provide for parking, circulation and launching demands. Additionally, several sources of existing water contamination will be eliminated.


We recommend that the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and recommend approval of Douglas Harbor Master Plan 8A to the Assembly. The approval is subject to the following conditions:

1. With the development of each project area, the applicant shall provide adequate lighting for primary traffic corridors and parking areas. Light fixtures shall be shielded, or incorporate a similarly effective design, to eliminate glare and to focus light shed on travel areas.

2. Prior to obtaining a CBJ building or grading permit for Phase I, the applicant shall finalize the arrangements necessary with private property owners adjacent to Area 5.

3. Prior to obtaining a CBJ building or grading permit for Phase II, the applicant shall submit plans for Community Development staff approval of the following items: typical road sections through the project area, striping details, parking lot layout with accessible spaces, crosswalks, signs, lighting and fixtures, street furniture, public buildings, waste containers, landscaping and vegetative cover.

4. All trucks hauling material to or from the site shall have a tailgate, cover or similarly effective mechanism to contain material. Hauling to or from the site is prohibited between the hours of 7-8 AM and 4-6 PM.

The applicant shall be responsible for controlling dust and debris caused by loading, off-loading, truck hauling and other aspects of the operation. The applicant shall control dust by dampening road surfaces and operating areas and shall take other measures as needed to assure that no dust impacts occur off site. The applicant shall also be responsible for cleaning up and disposing of any litter generated by the project, including material that is lost from trucks.