Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Acton Man May See 7 Years in Prison for . . . Building Code Violations?

We're still trying to wrap our minds around this: KABC 7 in Los Angeles is reporting that Alan Kimble Fahey, a retired phone service technician, may serve as many as seven years in prison after being convicted on 9 misdemeanors yesterday. His crime? Violating building-permit regulations in the construction of his elaborate, 20,000 square foot labryinth of a home, which he calls "Phonehenge West," in the high desert town of Acton.

Fahey and his creation.

Fahey built the house over three decades, using recycled wood and discarded equipment he'd come across during his working years. His supporters (and there are many in the Antelope Valley) view it as a piece of folk art, a desert version of the Watts Towers. Since LA County began citing him for code violations, Fahey appeared in court over 50 times before the criminal trial began.

This punches us in the gut for two reasons. One, either your property is yours or it isn't, and we dislike the idea that LA County is making property rights conditional on their approval. And two, we're talking about imprisoning someone for building a house on his own land. You might think it's art, you might think it's an eyesore, you might think it's unsafe for the Faheys to live in, but is this really worth depriving an old man of seven years of his life?

2 comments:

  1. How did code violations become misdemeanors? That's bizarre, I've only ever heard of them being civil violations.

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  2. That was my reaction too. Apparently "maintenance of un-permitted properties" and "unlawful use of land" are criminal misdemeanors, at least in Los Angeles County.

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