Better, worse, or exactly the same? People in downtown Anchorage say it doesn’t matter, now is the time to address crime and rowdy bar crowds.


Thursday night we showed our viewers surveillance video of people peeing on the sidewalk, fighting and carrying open containers of alcohol near Brown Bag Sandwich company. Nearby neighbors and businesses said they are fed up with the Brown Bag’s basement bar and want change.


After our story aired, we received a flood of comments online claiming that bar is not the only problem spot downtown.


Machell Larkey wrote, “They need to take in account that its not brown bag that is the problem their customers come from everywhere. Why they not complaining about the Gaslight or Pioneer which are to their neighbors to and way more rowdier than brown bag. Lol people are just petty.”


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Many people walking around Fourth Avenue on Friday afternoon said they fear crime in the area may be getting worse.


“Just the way people are, you know it isn’t safe at night,” said Anchorage resident Alice Trefon.


Despite downtown’s bad reputation, folks with the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) say complaints and liquor violations are down ever since Rumrunners, Platinum Jaxx, and The Anchor closed their doors.


“We have received reduced calls/complaints in general since they closed,” AMCO Director Cynthia Franklin wrote in an email. “The only complaints we’ve received recently were the noise/trash/urination complaints about Brown Bag this summer and complaints about one other downtown establishment last year and early this year.”


Still, the recent spike in accusations against Brown Bag have caught the attention of the area’s community council and the Anchorage Downtown Partnership (ADP), which is pushing a new eight-step safety plan.


“I don’t think it’s worse than it’s ever been but certainly we have some challenges downtown right now that are perceived as being very bad,” said ADP executive director Jamie Boring.


Corey Hester, president of the Downtown Community Council, said in an email that complaints to the council against downtown bars “have been relatively consistent over the last few years.” He also said feedback in 2016 has increased, “but that could be due to a few growing yet isolated issues in regards to certain establishments.”


“Downtown establishments need to be cognizant of the crowd they are attracting and the manner in which they serve that crowd,” he wrote. “New businesses need to also realize they are usually coming into an area where established organizations or tenants may have resided for quite some time. They need to be mindful and respectful of their surroundings.”


The eight-step program includes:



  1. Public awareness training

  2. Increase ADP ambassadors’ establish grid system

  3. Work with the Municipality of Anchorage

  4. Liaise with homeless coordinator

  5. Dedicated Anchorage Safety Patrol (ASP) Van for Downtown

  6. Community Partners

  7. Late night (Bar Break) security elements.

  8. ADP ambassador security contracts.


Boring said the key element is increasing police presence downtown, especially in the early morning hours.


According to police spokesperson Jennifer Castro, there are only two or three officers assigned to the downtown area each night. She said there hasn’t been any bar break enforcement for several years.


ADP’s eight-step program is still in the beginning phases and was only presented to municipal officials last week. Boring said funding is needed in order to actually implement the plan.


KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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