Golden Lion Hotel off the table for now, due to legal considerations, according to Anchorage mayor’s office


Mayor Dave Bronson, on advice from city attorneys, says the Golden Lion Hotel is not a legal location for a homeless shelter, and even using it for so-called “transitional housing” would need a parking variance and permitting. All of that would take time.

The city’s Department of Law released a memorandum outlining multiple challenges to using the Golden Lion, which the Anchorage Assembly has asked to be used as a homeless shelter. On Friday, the Centennial Campground was closed as a homeless encampment for the winter. Over the summer, the city allowed homeless people to live there without having to pay a fee, and brought in sanitation, safety patrols, clean up crews, and maintenance to keep the place orderly and safe. With winter coming, homeless will be sent back out to fend for themselves, unless something changes. Plans from the mayor’s office and plans from the Assembly have been in conflict for many months and are at what seems to be an impasse.

The challenges of using the Golden Lion include:  

  • The Anchorage Assembly’s proposed use of the Golden Lion for housing, is not allowable per the Emergency Cold Weather Shelter Plan (Municipal Code  16.120)
  • The Golden Lion does not meet municipal zoning and building laws for the use proposed by the Anchorage Assembly.
  • The use proposed for the Golden Lion by the Anchorage Assembly puts the Municipality of Anchorage at risk of discrimination and violation of state and federal housing laws. 

“I look forward to having further discussions with the Anchorage Assembly,” said Mayor Dave Bronson.  

The Department of Law memorandum can be found at this link


  1. Well our assembly over lords what do you think now? Maybe remove your heads from places and actually try to do something.

  2. I am so damn sick of the junior high squabbling over this piece of junk.

    We could use a mini earthquake to level the damn place and end the nonsense.

  3. Felix and Meg have arrived at the opinion that they can “hoodwink” area residents and force through any and every bad idea that occurs to them. Their most recent bad idea involves housing much of the homeless population (from all over, but currently residing in Anchorage) in the Golden Lion building. The use of this building to house homeless persons, after they pledged this would NEVER happen under ANY circumstances, is their most recent bad, dishonest, and disrespectful idea.


    The Muni’s legal department interpreted the situation correctly in their assertion that the use of the Golden Lion for homeless housing would put the Muni in further legal jeopardy and cost us property tax payers millions more than we have already paid.


    P.S. If this really is an emergency, I do not understand why Felix and Meg refuse to use the empty and spacious Northway Mall to house homeless people over the upcoming winter months. This really makes much more sense than any of the plans they have trotted out.

  4. the centennial is tonight still full of about 100 people, some with pets, not much security here, very few parks and recs people here and the word is out that there is still time for about 100 to get TREATMENT and CARE. pray that they will get help before winter hits. no volunteers in sight.

    • Really hard to help someone that is unwilling to help themselves.
      Throwing more money at it just gross the bureaucracy that produces nothing cost everyone. The way property taxes are handled in the city everyone’s gonna be homeless……. except those in the bureaucracy.

  5. If the Golden Lion does not meet the minimum safety codes for the public use it just does not. The minimum safety codes are adopted by the state then ratified by the city. The city doesn’t have authority to waive state adopted MINIMUM safety public use regardless of compassions. Meet minimums. Next…

  6. And why aren’t these issues from Title 21 being raised for every hotel (e.g. Sockeye Inn/Alex Hotel etc) being used for the homeless? I don’t see the difference – but I am no lawyer. Just wondering We actually own the Golden Lion – private entities own the other hotels that want to make a profit.

    • AF- The city actually helped a brand new nonprofit group — Ship Creek Community Assets — buy the Sockeye Inn for housing for medically fragile. Taxpayer money was kicked in for it but the city doesn’t own it. – sd

  7. If there is a legal reason why that dump cannot be used to house the homeless, the assembly will introduce an ordinance to change the city code.
    And, they will pass that ordinance despite massive opposition from the public.
    Because majority rules.

  8. The mayor will never agree to use the Golden Lion because his political backers don’t want a homeless shelter in their neighborhood. The mayor owes his election to Save Anchorage, a group that was formed to specifically oppose the use of the Golden Lion for that purpose. Dr Russell Biggs, a wealthy anesthesiologist and one of the founders of Save Anchorage, owns residential property located near the hotel. If the mayor agreed to use the hotel as a homeless shelter, his political base would abandon him. So the mayor instructed his law department to come up with a list of reasons why the hotel can’t be used, and voila, they came up with a list of excuses. None of them are compelling, or difficult to work around. But the mayor will never agree to them, and even if the assembly adopted them, he would just find another excuse not to use the hotel.

  9. The purchase AO specifically details that “under no circumstances” the Golden Lion be used as a shelter. It was added by Zaletel as a promise to the community and now the assembly wants to backtrack it in order to score political points.

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