Doesn't This Take A Lot
of City Resources?
Other than the thousands upon thousands of taxpayer money Ankeny has
spent, and continues to spend, on lawyers and administrators going after
me and my lights, my display took fewer city resources than the average
block party last year (a "Local Traffic Only" sign and answering
one call about a blocked drive for my display vs. two barricades and
a police officer working PR for an hour for a block party). At the same
time my display served thousands of residents (vs. how ever many show
up for a block party), added serious income to the local economy, and
generated warm feelings for the community they simply couldn't afford
to buy any other way.
How Many Visitors?
At an estimated 24 cars per hour average, more than 3500 people would
have seen my display during the course of the entire Christmas lighting
season. You would never guess it, because I live on a side street that
provides a natural traffic pattern to my house that eliminates problems.
Also, because it is a computerized presentation, the way my visitors
view the lights is by waiting in a single-file line along the curb stretching
back both ways from my house. Which not only keeps the street open but
is safer than traditional displays where visitors completely block the
street in both directions as they view lights. While driving. With their
Are Christmas Lights Really
Illegal in Ankeny?
Unless my lights don't count, yes they are. And here's
the proof. And they've told me and a couple of key legislators who
have objected that they intend to keep it that way. So if the City tells
their misleading response to complaints here) that Christmas lights,
including my lights, are not illegal, they are simply not telling you
the truth, and they know it. If there is no law against Christmas lights
in Ankeny, then why did the City's LAWYER send me a certified letter
before my display was ever built threatening LEGAL action and quoting
the City's nuisance LAW as the basis for it? And why did a LAW ENFORCEMENT
officer respond to the only complaint they got all season by coming
to my house and telling me I had to shut down because my lights were
illegally violating that very Ankeny LAW?
What Your My Neighbors
Other than the helicopter tours none of us like, or having to tell the
occasional boorish visitor blocking our drives to move, I have received
nothing but positive feedback from my neighbors. But I have the best
neighbors you're going to find anywhere, so that's not surprising. Is
it totally hassle-free? No. Is it worth it? Yes. For example, the kids
next door set up a hot chocolate stand and raised money for the Animal
Rescue League. I got a couple of nice notes from other neighbors. Fact
is that you can't tell anything is going on when you're in your house
unless some visitor starts honking their horn or otherwise abusing the
privilege. Except for those noisy, obnoxious helicopters.
Doesn't Traffic Clog Your
A city out of control generally justifies their heavy-handed abuse of
power under the guise of "public safety," which is a genuine responsibility.
But in this case it's a straw man. Because I not only live in a
perfect location with a three-block stretch without intersections
to create natural traffic flows to and from the display. But my display
is also a short, computer-controlled "show." Which means you have to
wait in line to see it, at which point you have made it to the front
of the house where you can watch the display. With most displays more
visitors means more congestion and clogged streets. With my display,
more visitors just means a longer line. With visitors waiting single-file
along the curb stretching back only as far as they are willing to wait.
The only traffic problem with my display is when a resident vehicle
parks along the curb, forcing the line of visitors into the middle of
the street (or backing up to Grant Street in 2007) Which is the very
issue I went to the city for help on in the first place. Imagine that.