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How ‘Fire Wise’ Are We Really?

by Connie Yoshimura

First, let me commend the hundreds of firefighters and support teams from all over the state and lower forty-eight who are working to contain the McHugh Creek Fire. With foresight, several years ago, the Anchorage Fire Department implemented a Fire Wise program, educating hillside residents on how to protect their homes from just such a fire which included clearing areas around their home from dead brush and trees and recommending more fire retardant building materials.

Now comes the hard part. Let me disclose that I am the managing partner of Potter Creek Development, LLC, which owns Potter Highlands subdivision, a partially developed new home community for 79 lots and 30 have been developed with well and septic systems. Prior areas in Potter Creek were developed with public sewer and the extension of water from a community water system which is fed by a large aqua at the top of Potter Valley Road. The parcel we own, which is now called Potter Highlands, was originally intended for several hundred multi-family units to be serviced by water and sewer. However, a few years back the property was rezoned to R6, i.e., large lots well and septic system. This was after negotiations with AWWU broke down over their unwillingness to participate in the cost of a large water holding tank which would have enabled piped water to homes as well as fire hydrants. Now, unfortunately, fire crews have to haul water both in fire engine tankers, mobile tanks and create temporary plastic reservoirs. AWWU also refused to purchase the private water utility company in this area for a reasonable cost of $300,000.

When it comes to fire prevention and public safety, not only is the lack of a public water supply a problem on the hillside but so is the issue of secondary egress. Connectivity is the buzz word when it comes to trails but trails are not as important as adequate egress for human life. Once again, the MOA has bypassed their fair share of financial responsibility to open up areas for development with adequate egress, limiting the growth of our community. The original Potter Valley Road was built with state funds handed over to the MOA. Last year, Potter Creek Development, LLC extended the road at a cost of over $3.2 million without any assistance from the MOA. However, no new development can occur until the secondary egress is improved, although the MOA through the Heritage Land Bank on an adjacent property, is proposing future development with no public plan being discussed on a secondary egress solution.

The hillside is a ‘hot’ spot for development. It is where many locals dream of living after spending time in suburbia. It is also where newly arrived residents first ‘take to the hills’ to find their new home. They both want the large lots, the inlet and mountain views, the occasional moose and bear in their backyard. Maybe even a lynx or two. The bald eagles swooping through the sky. Perhaps, this fire and its threat to our hillside communities will turn our attention on how to make the area as safe as it is beautiful.

How Home Design Has Changed Over the Years

by Connie Yoshimura

Remember the formal living room? It’s gone. The formal dining room. Almost gone. Eight foot ceilings? Now, they are nine and ten tall with at least two-story entries. How about that two-story arch over the front door? Gone. Now, it’s all about the amount and type of glass in the front door and you get to paint it your favorite bright color if your HOA will let you!

But the biggest and least talked about change is what has happened to the master bathroom. It is now almost as large as the master bedroom itself. Gone are those twenty foot wide and deep master bedrooms. They are definitely more cozy at 14 x 16, the ideal size for a king size bed with matching head board and night stands. And the master bath? It  definitely has five components—tub, shower, double sinks and a private water closet. Add to that a rain shower fixture, double shower heads, a solid surface bench and perhaps a custom mud pan and unframed glass door or a simple walk-in and the master bath shower has become your in-home spa in neutral colors with a touch of ocean green and blue. Cabinets are raised off the floor to create a feeling of spaciousness and windows surround the tub, whether tiled in or free standing. Solid surface countertops and a tile floor are a must.  Gone, also, is that l980’s plate glass mirror. Double vanities require hand crafted custom built mirrors or pick out your favorite framed mirror at Pier 1.

And, then, there is the wide open kitchen with a free standing island large enough to seat at least four family members and preferably six. Solid surface, yes. Quartz is rapidly replacing granite because it has less movement unless buyers upgrade to black granite with just a hint of fleck but make sure it is not shiny. The must have secondary bedrooms are a minimum size now of 10 x 10. No more 9 foot bedrooms, even if they are a legal size. Four bedrooms up is the preferred configuration. Even savvy empty nesters understand it’s good for future resale.

And now for the garage. It just can’t get too big. Years ago, I remember when John Hagmeier introduced the three car garage in Kempton Park. It outsold all the resale in Kempton Hills. Now, we’re seeing four cars!   Woodworking.  Antique cars. Skis. Tennis rackets, you name it.  Alaskans love their toys. Paint the floor. Texture and paint the walls. Add a sink with hot and cold running water. Hook up the cable and WiFi and it’s the man cave. Home has become the heart of our everyday life. It’s  a comforting refuge from the ever changing world around us.

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Dwell Realty
561 E. 36th Ave., Suite 200
Anchorage AK 99503