Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Jack Frost TKOs Frosty The Snowman In Anchorage, Alaska; Code Enforcers Force Removal Of 16-Foot-High "Snowzilla" Snowman, But It Ain't Over Yet
If you live in a typical tract home anywhere and plan on building a 16-foot-high snowman on your property, you better read this post first. Otherwise you could get a surprise visit from your local code enforcement commissars.
A resident of a typical Anchorage neighborhood was forced by local code enforcers to take down a 16-foot-high snowman, which was called "Snowzilla", because they deemed it a public nuisance and a threat to public safety. And the bureaucrat who signed off on the order is actually named "Jack Frost". The original story, first published in the Anchorage Daily News on December 22nd, 2008, has touched off a firestorm of local criticism which is particularly reflected in the Comments section of the ADN story. Most of the 1,000+ comments are critical of the city's code enforcers. Supporters of "Snowzilla" have even now organized the Snowzilla.org website to take up the cause of the frozen giant.
Additional local perspective is provided by Alaska Dispatch, The Alaska Standard, Mudflats, and Alaska Pride. View a series of 10 ADN photos HERE. YouTube video posted below:
Summary: Each winter beginning in 2005, an Anchorage resident named Billy Ray Powers has erected a 16-foot-high snowman in the front yard of his home, which is located in a typical residential neighborhood. The snowman, tagged "Snowzilla", became a local public attraction. Not only did journalists from other countries visit and take pictures, but many locals drove by as well.
But many of Powers' neighbors soon grew tired of the constant stream of rubberneckers through the neighborhood. Many would drive by and park at all hours, including late at night, and neighbors finally had enough of loud car stereos and people tromping through their yards to better view the behemoth snowman.
So the city finally got involved at the behest of the local community council. Powers was already under municipal scrutiny for other "code violations"; he has a reputation for keeping junk on his property. He has been allegedly fined for such violations in the past; the amount of the fines is disputed. Thus the city finally lowered the boom and served notice - Snowzilla has now been taken down. But the behemoth wasn't only considered a public nuisance; it was also considered a public safety hazard because of the possibility it could topple unexpectedly and injure someone.
In an ironic twist, the Daily Paul revealed that the chief code enforcer signing off on the removal order is none other than Jack Frost. Yes, that is his name, and he's not the only Jack Frost in Anchorage. A different Jack Frost ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Anchorage in 2006. Having a "Jack Frost" running for mayor of a sub-Arctic city would be like having a "Joseph Smith" running for mayor of Salt Lake. [Ed. Note: Considering Salt Lake's current demographics, a "Joseph Smith" would also finish second in a Salt Lake mayoral race as well.]
It appeared that Billy Ray Powers had resigned himself to Snowzilla's fate. He told local media that, although he was disappointed that the city would lower the boom so close to Christmas, he would comply and not contest the issue. But apparently someone else is "contesting" the issue; in a brand-new story, the Anchorage Daily News is now reporting that Snowzilla was suddenly resurrected in front of the home during the night of Dec. 22-23. So Snowzilla apparently staggered back to his feet before the count of 10.
Analysis: While Alaska is a "red" state, it also has a strong libertarian streak. People don't take much interest in what you do in your own home or on your own property, so long as it doesn't intrude upon their lives or cost them excessive tax dollars. Most Alaskans don't seem to consider Snowzilla a public nuisance, except for a few who live in the neighborhood and may be tired of the ruckus. The behemoth snowman could have easily been built in a nearby public park; Anchorage residents permit such projects in their parks. They even have an annual "ice sculpture" contest.
Utah is even more "red", but may not quite have such a libertarian streak, as Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller found out when she allowed her teens to host late-night drinking parties at her home in a South Jordan cul-de-sac. The local reaction was rather different - and considerably less favorable - than Anchorage's reaction to Snowzilla.
Your reaction to this story - and your attitude towards Snowzilla - will hinge upon whether or not YOU would be willing to tolerate rubberneckers visiting your neighborhood at all hours. Many people view a residential neighborhood as a respite from the wider world around them, and differential zoning laws have evolved to reflect this perspective. While it's an Alaskan issue, I don't think I would want a bunch of strangers tromping through my neighborhood at all hours to view a public spectacle.