GATHERING OF CULTURES – Dorothy Gordon holds year-old Marilyn De La Torre as they perform an entrance song Thursday at the B.J McGillis Gym during the annual Gathering of Cultures. A Tlingit dance group made up of several Sitka Tlingit dance groups opened the gathering. Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s student dance groups representing cultural groups from five regions of Alaska also performed. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Maine Ruling Roils Sitka Cruise Waters
01 Mar 2024 15:42

Sentinel Staff Writer
    Local advocates for a limit on cruise ship numbers sa [ ... ]

Fireweed Alumni Join in for Dance Gala
01 Mar 2024 15:40

Sentinel Staff Writer
    At Saturday’s annual Fireweed Dance Theatre Gala Pe [ ... ]

Young Barracudas Break Swim Club Records
01 Mar 2024 15:36

Sentinel Sports Editor
    Baranof Barracudas Swim Club members set new club rec [ ... ]

City League Volleyball Nailbiter
01 Mar 2024 15:30

By Sentinel Staff
    Thursday evening in City League volleyball gameplay, Yellow Jersey beat the  [ ... ]

Long Trail Advocates Seek Hike in Funding
01 Mar 2024 14:33

Alaska Beacon
    Trail advocates are asking legislators to appropriate more than $ [ ... ]

House Hands Senate Child Care Crisis Bill
01 Mar 2024 14:31

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    Most members of the House supported a bill that aims to expand [ ... ]

March 1, 2024, Local News
01 Mar 2024 14:09

Climate Connection – Sitka Housing and Climate
Housing costs in Sitka are a huge concern, worsened  [ ... ]

March 1, 2024, Police Blotter
01 Mar 2024 13:59

Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:

February 29
At 10:24 a.m. a deaf dog and an [ ... ]

New Group Focuses On Cruise Ship Policy
29 Feb 2024 15:24

Sentinel Staff Writer
    A group advocating for better local control of cruise [ ... ]

Sitkans Ready Raunchy Revue for Stage
29 Feb 2024 15:23

Sentinel Staff Writer
    Ribald comedy with suggestive jokes and a sylvan theme [ ... ]

Bag Limit Changes Open for Comments
29 Feb 2024 15:20

Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Senate Resources Committee will take public testi [ ... ]

Spring is Theme for Blatchley Concert Tonight
29 Feb 2024 15:19

Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Blatchley Middle School music director is promisi [ ... ]

City League Volleyball Gameplay
29 Feb 2024 15:17

By Sentinel Staff
    In two sets, the SEARHC Slammers defeated the Beak Brunchers, Wednesday even [ ... ]

Lady Braves Beat Sitka in Pre-Tourney Game
29 Feb 2024 15:16

Sentinel Sports Editor
    Mt. Edgecumbe’s Lady Braves closed out the regular  [ ... ]

State School Board Has $500M Projects Listed
29 Feb 2024 15:08

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    The state’s Board of Education and Early Development approve [ ... ]

Fetus-Person Proposal Gets Strong Pushback
29 Feb 2024 15:07

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    An Alaska House member has proposed a bill that seeks to estab [ ... ]

February 29, 2024, Community Happenings
29 Feb 2024 13:16

Sitka APC Trust Open
For Grant Applications The Sitka Alaska Charitable Trust has announced that $92 [ ... ]

February 29, 2024, Police Blotter
29 Feb 2024 13:12

Police Blotter
Sitka police received the following calls by 8 a.m. today:
February 28
At 6:58 a.m. seve [ ... ]

Terminal Gets Boost With Airport Lease
28 Feb 2024 15:08

Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved a 55-yea [ ... ]

School Official Says New Funds in Doubt
28 Feb 2024 14:48

Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Sitka School District and other districts around  [ ... ]

Petitions for Wage, Voting Ballot Initiatives Sign...
28 Feb 2024 14:47

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    A pair of ballot measures have enough public support to appear on [ ... ]

Gov Threatens Veto Of School Funds Bill
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Alaska Beacon
    Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued an ultimatum  [ ... ]

Edgecumbe Earns Another Rivalry Victory
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Sentinel Sports Editor
    Propelled by a strong defense and accurate shooting i [ ... ]

Volleyball Scores
28 Feb 2024 14:39

By Sentinel Staff
    The Queen Bees overcame Ludvig’s Lancers 2-0 in their competitive division [ ... ]

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka Leads the Way With Tiny Home Law

Sentinel Staff Writer
    After four months, three Planning Commission sessions, three first readings by the Assembly and nearly one hundred phone calls made by Planning Department Special Projects Manager Scott Brylinsky, the Assembly Tuesday night passed the ordinance that makes tiny homes a viable living option in Sitka.
    Janet Thome, Tiny Home Industry Association liaison and media coordinator based in Washington, told the Sentinel today that this may be the first of its kind in local codes regarding tiny homes.
    “The (Sitka) ordinance will be a template that other jurisdictions can follow across the country,” Thome wrote Tuesday night in a THIA blog post headlined “Groundbreaking Sitka, Alaska Tiny House Ordinance.”
    “Almost every day, we are seeing a battle with homeowners and municipalities: is it a structure, or is it a vehicle? Perhaps it is both; I applaud Sitka for forging a way for others,” she wrote in the blog post.
    Tiny homes are a global trend, and local jurisdictions have been hurriedly trying to fold them into their local building and zoning codes. And they’ve been succeeding, says Thome – but only “from the floor joists up.”
    Where they get stumped, she says, is the movable, wheeled chassis on which many tiny home owners want to build their dwellings.
    “Everybody is wanting to live in a tiny home on wheels,” Thome told the Sentinel in an interview today. “It’s the rage all across the country; I mean, it’s huge! They’re great for mobility, for avoiding natural disasters, and they can be rapidly built and factory controlled.”
     “But the jurisdictions immediately say ‘No,’ or the insurance companies say, ‘No,’” she added. “They haven’t figured out how to check that box.”
    Sitka found a way to check that box.
    Rather than shoehorning them into previously existing categories like RV’s, self-propelled vehicles, fifth wheel trailers or second family dwellings, Sitka’s ordinance – a joint effort between the city’s planning, zoning, and legal departments – provides tiny homes on chassis their very own definition and legal classification.
    Thome says she plans to send the Sitka ordinance to a number of cities, including ones in Washington, Colorado, Missouri, and New Zealand.
    In addition to providing a legal status for tiny homes on chassis, the Sitka ordinance has three features:
    -It adopts Appendix Q from the International Residential Code (IRC), which allows certain construction breaks to homes less than 400 square feet.
    -It allows tiny homes on permanent foundations to be built in Mobile/Manufactured home parks.
    -It conditionally allows tiny houses on chassis to be placed in individual lots in the same zoning districts that currently allow manufactured homes to be placed in individual lots.
    The Sentinel spoke with building official Pat Swedeen about the steps needed to comply with the new regulations.
    To ship a previously-built tiny home from out of town to Sitka, Swedeen said, the builder has to provide proof that the structure meets IRC standards. The new owner must apply for a conditional use permit through the Planning Commission.
    Those seeking to build a tiny home for themselves would have to apply for both a conditional use permit and a building permit, the building officials said.
    Swedeen says he is here to help. “Emails, phone calls, meetings here in the office – we’ll do everything we can to help people come to a design that’s approvable,” he said.
    “While the home is being built, we’ll do inspections,” Swedeen says. “We’ll inspect the framing, the electrical installation, the plumbing installation, and then at the end we’ll come through and do a final inspection to make sure everything was done right and wired correctly, at which point we’ll provide what has been termed a ‘certificate of approval,’ which is an adaptation of a certificate of occupancy.”
    Approvable tiny homes must have a “habitable room” (excluding kitchen area) whose length and width are both greater than 7 feet. The total square footage of the structure, excluding lofts, must be less than 400 square feet. The homes must have skirted bottoms and ventilated crawl spaces, and be hooked up to city sewer and water.
    Sitka High students in the Career and Technical Education program have built the Tongass Tiny Home, a version of a tiny home that is currently for sale at $65,000
    Unfortunately, said Swedeen, the Tongass Tiny Home is too tiny to be approvable. He says its longest habitable room dimension is closer to 5 feet than 7 feet.
    Swedeen encourages those with building questions to contact him at 747-1832  or
    Those with zoning questions should reach out to Planning Director Amy Ainslie at 747-1815 or

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2004

Photo caption: Fire engines and ambulances shine in the sun outside the new fire hall Saturday during an open house. Hundreds turned out to look over the $4 million facility, which is twice the size of the building it replaced. It features a state-of-the-art exhaust system and much larger offices and a large training room.


March 1974

The Sheldon Jackson Museum will have a special showing of replicas of ancient Tlingit hunting weapons. The replicas were made by A. P. Johnson, a Tlingit  culture instructor and metal arts teacher at SJC.


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