Chapter 5.18
COMMERCIAL TOUR PERMITS Amended Ord. 18-09-512


5.18.010    Intent and definition. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.015    Permit required. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.020    Number of permits available. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.030    Application process. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.040    Hearing for commercial tours. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.050    Issuance of permit. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.060    Renewal. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.070    Permit revocation, suspension or reduction in skier day allocation. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.080    Commercial ski tours, commercial ski productions and special ski competition events. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

5.18.010 Intent and definition. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A. In accordance with the purposes of this title, it is the intent of this chapter that the borough, in cooperation with private and commercial interests, regulate commercial tours to protect public safety and welfare and to encourage the efficient delivery of commercial tours.

B. “Commercial tour” means the selling and/or providing of guided or escorted tours, excursions, experiences, sightseeing trips, or visits to a natural or cultural display, and includes all services provided, whether or not incidental to, advertised with, or specifically offered in the sale.

C. Exemptions. The following are exempted from the regulation of this chapter:

1. Fishing and hunting charters with a total capacity of six or less customers per excursion.

2. Guided overnight excursions occurring outside the townsite service area.

5.18.015 Permit required. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A. No person shall operate a commercial tour in the Haines Borough except as authorized by a duly issued and currently valid tour permit obtained pursuant to this chapter.

B. In order to sell, offer to sell, or take orders to sell commercial tours operating in the Haines Borough, the seller must possess a copy of the current commercial tour permit (obtained from the permittee) for each commercial tour being sold.

C. Multiple tour activities by a single operator having similar impacts on the Haines Borough may be permitted under a single commercial tour permit.

5.18.020 Number of permits available. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

The number of available tour permits, other than the number of permits for a commercial ski tour, may be set by the assembly in September of each year for the following year. Renewal of existing permits by operators who have not had their permit revoked for failure to comply with this chapter shall have priority over new or expanded tour permit applications. The clerk will determine the number of new permits available and allow new applicants to apply based on their position on a waiting list maintained by the clerk. (Ord. 10-10-243 § 8)

5.18.030 Application process. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A. Application for a commercial tour permit and permit renewal shall be made using the procedures set out in Chapter 5.04 HBC and this chapter.

B. An applicant must provide the following information:

1. Name, address, and telephone number of applicant and all principals.

2. Customer capacity; number of vehicles to be used; location of all phases of the tour(s), including where the tour(s) will be offered for sale and scheduled stops; a summary of the tour(s); a map showing the routes to be taken; and hours of operation. One copy of each published pamphlet or brochure describing each tour must accompany the application.

3. Broker’s certificate of $500,000 of current commercial general liability insurance naming the borough as additional insured. The policy shall not contain any self-insured retention or deductible in excess of $1,000 and shall include a provision requiring written notification to be given to the borough by the insurance company not less than 30 days before the policy is canceled, modified, or terminated for any reason.

4. Proof of worker’s compensation insurance where applicable by law.

5. A copy of current Haines Borough business license.

6. Current copy of a signed tour operator’s code of conduct agreement which shall be approved by the borough assembly.

7. An explanation of any felony conviction within the past five years.

8. A safety and operating plan for heli-skiing and helicopter tours. (Ord. 14-03-371 § 5; Ord. 05-03-098; Ord. 05-02-097)

5.18.040 Hearing for commercial tours. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A. An applicant for a commercial tour permit shall provide, in addition to the submittals listed in HBC 5.18.030, any additional information the clerk considers appropriate to adequately notify the public of the proposed tour, based upon the nature of the tour. Upon receipt of a new commercial tour application, or upon determination that a renewal application requires a hearing per HBC 5.18.060, the clerk shall fix a time and place for a public hearing before the assembly. Notice in writing of such hearing shall be given to the applicant. Due notice shall also be given to the general public by publishing a notice of such hearing in a local newspaper at least five days prior to the hearing containing a brief description of the proposed tour and indicating that a detailed description of the tour will be made available at the clerk’s office and publicly posted.

B. The clerk shall post, in the same posting places used for other postings, a detailed description of the proposed tour, including route maps and numbers of persons anticipated to be taken on each tour, as well as any other information the clerk considers appropriate to illustrate the impacts of the tour on the community.

C. The police chief, tourism director, and harbormaster shall review any application for a tour and, for all tours subject to a hearing, submit a recommendation to the assembly for consideration prior to the scheduled hearing. In addition, any person may file with the clerk a written submittal in support of or in opposition to the issuance of a permit and/or may voice the person’s opinions at the hearing. The assembly will consider all verified comments before acting on the permit application.

D. An application to solicit for or sell tours on public property other than the designated staging area at the Port Chilkoot Dock shall be considered a new commercial tour application. (Ord. 05-02-097)

5.18.050 Issuance of permit. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

If the assembly, after the public hearing under HBC 5.18.040, finds that the applicant for the proposed commercial tour is fit, willing, and able to perform such tour and to conform to the provisions and purposes set out in this title, then the assembly will authorize the issuance of a permit by the clerk. The assembly may require that issuance of the permit be subject to designated conditions.

5.18.060 Renewal. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A commercial tour permit issued under this chapter may be renewed upon application to the clerk, in accordance with Chapter 5.04 HBC and this chapter. The review standards that apply to initial permit applications shall apply to applications for the renewal of a permit, except that a renewal application does not require a hearing under HBC 5.18.040 unless the applicant: (1) proposes to provide a new commercial tour not previously provided; (2) proposes to solicit for or sell a tour on public property other than the designated staging area at the Port Chilkoot Dock; or (3) proposes to expand the capacity of an existing tour other than a commercial ski tour by 25 percent or more of the capacity of the tour from the time of, and/or as described in, the initial permit issued by the borough for the particular tour. (Ord. 10-10-243 § 9; Ord. 05-02-097)

5.18.070 Permit revocation, suspension or reduction in skier day allocation. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A commercial tour permit may be revoked or suspended or the number of skier days allocated pursuant to HBC 5.18.080 may be reduced for the reasons identified in HBC 5.04.120 and in accordance with the procedures set forth in HBC 5.04.120. (Ord. 10-10-243 § 10)

5.18.080 Commercial ski tours, commercial ski productions and special ski competition events. Amended Ord. 18-09-512

A. Number of Permits.

1. No more than three commercial ski tour permits may be issued for any one calendar year.

2. No more than two permits for a special ski competition event and/or commercial ski production may be issued for any one calendar year.

3. A permit does not create an exclusive right of use of an area by the permittee. However, the borough may specify areas of the map in which a permittee may operate.

4. If more than three applicants apply for a commercial ski tour permit in any calendar year, preference shall be given to existing permit holders in good standing in the grant of a permit.

B. Skier Day Limits. The following limitations on skier days shall apply to all commercial ski tours conducted in areas identified on the attached map.

1. Base Limits. No more than a total of 2,600 skier days per year will be authorized in an allocation of skier days.

2. Allocation. If the borough receives applications for more than the total number of skier days authorized under subsection (B)(1) of this section, skier days will be allocated under subsection (C) of this section.

C. Allocation of Skier Days.

1. At the time of an application for each commercial ski tour permit authorized by this chapter, the permit applicant shall request an allocation of skier days. Commercial ski tour permit applications and requests for allocation of skier days must be submitted to the city manager no later than August 31st of each year for the following season. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, applications and requests must be submitted no later than the following business day. The date of submission shall be determined by the postmark or, if hand delivered, by the date the application and request are delivered to the borough manager’s office.

2. If the requested number of skier days of all permit applicants exceeds the limits established by subsection (B)(1) of this section, the borough manager shall, after providing each permittee an opportunity for an informal hearing, make an allocation of skier days based on the following factors:

a. The quality of the operating and safety plans submitted by the permittee.

b. The economic impact of the allocation on the permittee.

c. The safety and well-being of the general public.

d. Historic use of skier days by the permittee.

e. The interests of the borough in the promotion of tourism.

f. Past safety record of the permittee.

g. The applicant’s past record of compliance with borough ordinances related to commercial ski tours.

h. The existence and terms of any voluntary agreement between the borough and the applicant pertaining to operational practices of the applicant.

3. No later than 10 days after conclusion of all informal hearings, the borough manager shall issue a written decision establishing the allocation of skier days for each permittee and containing an explanation of the allocation decision. The term of the allocation shall be for one season subject to transfer of skier days under subsection (F) of this section.

4. A permittee receiving less than a requested allocation may appeal the initial allocation decision of the borough manager to the borough assembly by filing a notice of appeal with the borough clerk no later than 15 days from the date of the decision of the borough manager. All permittees shall be included as parties to the appeal and the results of the appeal shall be binding on all permittees.

D. Future Allocation of Skier Days. At or before the expiration of the initial term for an allocation of skier days, each permittee shall apply for a subsequent allocation of skier days for the next season. If the requested allocations exceed the limit for skier days established by subsection (B) of this section, the requested days shall be allocated using the same procedure and factors as in the initial allocation.

E. Transfer of Allocated Skier Days. A permittee may sell or transfer a portion of their skier day allocation for a designated season to another permittee holding an allocation upon the review and approval of the manager.

F. General Permit Conditions and Regulations. Commercial ski tours, commercial ski productions and special ski competition events are governed as follows:

1. The operating season is February 1st through May 3rd unless a different period is noted on the “Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas.”

2. All activity shall be conducted between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., except that the borough may authorize additional hours for no more than 30 days.

3. All activity shall be conducted only in areas identified on the map attached to the ordinance codified in this section which shall remain on file with the borough clerk and labeled “Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas” except as provided in subsection (G) of this section.

4. Every permit holder shall use global positioning system (“GPS”) equipment capable of tracking and preserving information establishing the route taken by the helicopter to and from the skiing and snowboarding area and all landings. This information shall be cataloged in a manner requested by the borough and provided when requested by the borough during each commercial ski tour season. Borough requests for this information are limited to enforcement of borough-permitted activity.

5. Every permit holder shall submit to the borough clerk, on forms provided by the borough, bi-weekly use reports detailing the number of skier days used during each day of the reporting period, deviations from the flight guidelines and any accidents.

6. The borough manager shall compile a season-end report to be submitted to the borough assembly annually during the first meeting in July. The report shall include the number of skier days used by each permitted company as compared to previous years, and it shall include any verified permit infractions along with correspondence and other information documenting reasons for the infractions.

7. The borough will establish a system for receiving and responding to complaints from the public.

8. Every permit holder shall submit to the borough clerk annually a safety and operating plan that, at a minimum, will include (a) avalanche safety (addressing client safety, as well as safety of other backcountry users in the area); (b) helicopter safety; (c) emergency rescue procedures; and (d) guide requirements.

9. Explosives shall not be used for avalanche control.

10. Every permit holder shall annually register contracted helicopters, their N number, color scheme, and pilot’s name with the borough.

11. Every permit holder shall provide mountain goat and other wildlife sightings to the borough. The borough clerk will provide commercial ski tour operators with incidental wildlife observation forms to be filled out daily. These forms shall be submitted annually upon completion of the permit season.

12. The permittee is responsible for obtaining authorizations required by other agencies for the permitted activity. Each permittee will provide a copy of any other authorizations to the borough clerk.

13. Every permit holder shall submit to the borough clerk a copy of a signed mutual aid agreement requiring all permittees to come to each other’s aid in the event of an accident or a mechanical problem that strands a helicopter used to transport participants in a commercial ski tour away from a heliport.

14. Every permit holder shall use one of the following heliports:

a. Haines Airport;

b. The Stewart landing strip at 18 Mile Haines Highway;

c. The heliport adjacent to the 33 Mile Roadhouse;

d. Any heliport authorized by the Haines Borough planning commission as a conditional use.

G. Temporary Additions to Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas.

1. A permittee or an applicant for a special ski competition event or commercial ski production heliski permit may request the addition of territory to the “Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas” map for a special ski event, not to exceed seven days of competition. All such requests shall expire at the end of the season within which the event takes place. Requests shall be submitted to the manager. All requests shall be in writing, be accompanied by a diagram showing the proposed additional area with reasonable specificity and shall explain the reasons for the proposal.

2. No later than seven days after receipt of a request submitted in compliance with subsection (G)(1) of this section, the manager shall prepare a written recommendation to the assembly. In preparing his recommendation, the manager shall consult with Alaska Department of Fish and Game regarding the impact of the proposed use on wildlife.

3. The assembly may act on the manager’s recommendation by resolution. If the assembly approves the temporary addition of territory, the “Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas” map shall be amended by designating the additional territory as “temporary” and identifying the dates for which the additional territory is approved. Approval by the assembly is contingent on the acquisition of a heliski permit for the season within which the event is to be held.

4. The shared use policy (subsection (H) of this section) is not effective for the duration and in the location of a special commercial ski production or a special ski competition event.

H. Shared Use Policy.

1. Commercial ski tour permittees shall yield to nonmotorized, recreational backcountry users, within the boundaries of the area known as Telemark Ridge at the head of the Haska Creek drainage, on a by-request basis.

2. Recreational backcountry users may contact a permittee by phone or e-mail at least 48 hours in advance of the activity and request to use a specific area on a specific day.

3. Confirmation shall be given by the permittee within 24 hours of the request.

4. The person making the request shall notify the borough clerk of the request.

5. Cancellation of the request shall be communicated to the permittee before 9:00 a.m. on the day of the activity.

6. Failure by recreational users to communicate a cancellation of the activity may result in the loss of request privileges.

7. Failure by a permittee to confirm a request, or to yield an area to recreational users, shall be reported to the borough clerk and recorded for future review.

8. The duration of a recreational activity in any specific area shall be for a maximum of three days consecutively, and for no more than 10 days per month.

9. The shared use policy in its entirety is not effective for the duration and in the location of a special commercial ski production or a special ski competition event.

I. Nontemporary Amendment of the Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas Map.

1. Amendments to the Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas map shall only be considered on a three-year cycle beginning in 2016. The process to review and amend the map shall be according to the following procedures:

a. At least 30 days prior to May 15th of every third year after 2016, the manager will solicit proposals for possible map amendments. Proposals are due by May 15th of that year and will contain illustrations of the specific areas and justification for the proposed amendments.

b. As soon as possible after May 15th, the manager may establish an advisory committee to review any proposed map amendments received by the proposal deadline. The committee shall convene no later than June 15th.

c. The committee shall include the following five voting members:

(1) A representative of a local conservation organization, appointed by the mayor;

(2) A member of the Haines Borough assembly;

(3) A representative from the heliskiing industry selected randomly by current Haines Borough commercial ski tour permit holders; and

(4) Two members chosen randomly from Haines Borough residents who petition to be members of the committee. The manager shall solicit applications by posting notice no less than 10 days.

d. The committee shall organize itself as to procedure.

e. The committee shall to every extent possible involve ADFG area wildlife biologists and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in its deliberations, including forwarding all proposals for map changes to the ADFG and BLM, seeking ADFG and BLM testimony, and requesting comments from ADFG and BLM on all draft recommendations before they are sent to the manager.

f. The committee shall make a recommendation to the manager on or before September 30th. The manager shall prepare a recommendation for the assembly and will not be bound by the committee’s recommendations. However, the manager shall also provide the committee recommendations to the assembly for consideration.

g. For a proposal correctly submitted in accordance with the current map review policy, the borough assembly may adopt a resolution to provide for adjustments to the map amendment timeline to accommodate for reasonable date or schedule conflicts.

2. The Haines Borough assembly shall adopt a resolution, following a public hearing, to finalize any nontemporary amendments of the Haines Borough Approved Commercial Ski Tour Areas map. (Ord. 16-08-441 § 4; Ord. 14-08-390 §§ 5 – 7; Ord. 13-07-339 §§ 4, 5; Ord. 12-10-306 §§ 7 – 9; Ord. 12-01-279 § 4; Ord. 10-10-243 § 11)