Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowzilla Resurrected Overnight In Anchorage After Municipal "Crucifixion"; City To Defer Further Action Until After The Holidays


The now even-more-famous "Snowzilla" giant snowman of Anchorage, Alaska was resurrected sometime during the night of December 22-23 after being destroyed as a result of a municipal code citation. Media story from the Anchorage Daily News (already there are 262 public comments, mostly supportive of Billy Ray Powers) and KTUU Channel 2.

Municipal code enforcers declared the giant snowman a public nuisance and safety hazard a few weeks ago, even before this winter's version was constructed. Specifically, officials banned the Powers family from "the building, enlargement or any other action ascribed with the construction of the extraordinarily large snowman". See my previous post for a complete account of the enforcement actions.

The new Snowzilla at 1556 Columbine St. is reportedly about 25 feet tall, sporting a new corncob pipe and carrot nose, although persons who have driven by it today report that 18 feet is more realistic. Here's a brief YouTube video showing the resurrected Snowzilla:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84hMKNwvY5k



When asked about Snowzilla's resurrection, property owner Billy Ray Powers was deliberately cryptic, saying only that the snowman's return was the result of "Christmas magic". Powers declined to discuss who rebuilt the snowman, how many people may have helped, or whether his own family was involved.

The Municipality of Anchorage reacted cautiously and diplomatically to the re-appearance of Snowzilla. They intend to defer further enforcement action until after the holidays. Mayor Mark Begich's communications director Jenny Evans issued the following statement, originally posted by the Anchorage Daily News:

Snowzilla Response

December 23, 2008

Anchorage prides itself on being a family-focused city, encouraging community spirit and comraderie. However, there must be a balance, especially for those most affected by spectacles like Snowzilla, which is the neighbors who are enduring hours of increased traffic flow; cars stopped and parked to take photos; the latest pattern of inebriated locals stopping in the middle of the night to photograph Snowzilla; and the overall impact of having a structure this size in the middle of a neighborhood. This is a neighborhood of small homes on small lots connected by small streets. It can't support the volume of traffic and revelers that are interested in Snowzilla.

This property owner has repeatedly ignored city attempts to find ways to accommodate his desire to build a giant snowman without affecting the quiet, residential quality of the neighborhood. The property owner appears to operate a large junk or salvage operation year-round from this residence. He has violated MOA land use codes for thirteen years. The owner has reneged on dozens of commitments he has made to his neighbors and city officials to cease the most offensive property uses. He currently owes the city more than $100,000 in fines and other assessments, primarily related to his junk and trash operations.

We continue to be willing to meet with the property owner to resolve these legitimate neighborhood concerns. We don't expect the city to take any further action until after the Christmas holiday.

Jenny Evans

Communications Director

Office of Mayor Mark Begich


This is a smart reaction by Begich, and it shows why even those who ideologically oppose Mark Begich respect his political talents. Begich is attempting to deflate and defang widespread criticism by unofficially allowing the snowman to remain over the holiday period.

Snowzilla has been virtually the exclusive topic of discussion on the December 23rd program of KFQD conservative shock jock Dan Fagan. Yesterday, Fagan was a firm cheerleader for Billy Ray Powers. Today, Fagan is hedging his bets. He condemns Powers for his sloppy yard, but defends his snowman. Most people calling in to the show support Powers. Supporters of Powers have even started a website, Snowzilla.org, to promote his cause and solicit donations towards possible litigation. If Powers chooses not to pursue legal action, the donations will be returned.

Snowzilla's gone global. A Google news search of Snowzilla, results viewable HERE, reveal stories published in Australia and Austria.

Since the mayor has declared the intent to delay further enforcement until after the holidays, this allows a cooling-off period to determine the true impact of any public nuisance, or if it is overblown. The botton line - the needs of Powers' neighbors needs to come first.

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