Phonehenge West: So Quirky It's Criminal

Last week a Los Angeles County jury convicted Alan Kimble Fahey of 12 misdemeanors for building Phonehenge West, a quirky series of buildings atop utility poles sunk into his property in the Antelope Valley. The convictions—for maintaining illegal structures, unlawfully installing electrical wiring, and disobeying orders to stop construction—did not include a single real crime. And for a long time, the county's building enforcers did not seem to think Fahey's fanciful project was worth worrying about. Fahey says that after a series of visits and exchanges in the early 1980s, the county ignored him for 20 years before suddenly demanding that he tear it all down.

Fahey's sentencing is scheduled for July 8. The Los Angeles Times reports that each of the 12 counts carries a $500 fine and that Fahey probably will be required to do "community service" as well. He "would only be allowed to remain out of custody if he complies with the judge's orders to immediately vacate the buildings that don't have permits," and he "has been ordered to consult with county officials to determine a plan for demolishing the unlawful structures."

The Times profiled Fahey and his "sprawling, 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected buildings" last month. The "Save Phonehenge West" Facebook page is here. More pictures here. A video explaining how the thing was built here.

[Thanks to Pat Hartman for the tip.]

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What's the fun of being a bureaucrat if you can't be arbitrary about it?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "What's the fun of being a bureaucrat ... ?"

  • ||

    Telling peons what to do, of course. Don't tell me you didn't enjoy the hell outta warcraft 1 & 2.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    "yeash?"
    "ohkay"

  • ||

    Yes, those were actual quotes by Mr. Fahey.

  • Zeb||

    That's some authentic frontier gibberish.

  • BigBob||

    So they'll be sending in goblin sappers to destroy the "unlawful structures?"

  • ||

    And, no. Goblin Sappers can't obtain the proper licensing.

  • Joe M||

    "They came from... behind."

  • DJF||

    The government thinks that they own all land in the country and they don't want mere citizens building anything on their property that would reduce property values or lower the amount of money the government gets from it in taxes or in sales price if the government takes, confiscated or steals the property.

  • Anoynmous Coward||

    If you accept property taxes as legitimate, then yes, the government does own your land and you are paying them rent for the privilege of possessing it.

  • ||

    Who are these fucking juries? I would love to be on a jury just to tell the other 11 people to fuck off.

  • Matrix||

    the prosecution would never allow you to sit on the jury. And if you managed to get it, they'd find a way to kick you out and put in an alternate.

  • ||

    But don't I presumably have no idea what the case is prior to the trial? I'd be honest answering questions.

    One thing that worried me about the legitimacy of the legal system (OK, one of many, but a particularly disturbing thing) was that for 12 years of independent or Libertarian voter registration I never once got so much as an acknowledgement that I could be called at some point for jury duty. Then I registered as an R to vote for Ron Paul in the '08 primary and all of a sudden I got notice that I needed to confirm to the county (same county I'd been in for 7 years prior) that I understood what jury duty is and that I could be called and to be truthful about my residence and citizenship and all that. WTF?

  • Matrix||

    during jury selections, they ask you a series of questions and basically tell you what kind of trial it is. So, yeah, they would screen you out pretty quickly.

  • ||

    My time with jury duty, there's was no "basically telling" about it, they straight out told us that it was a murder case. Maybe they only do that in Mont Co, Md., or maybe only for murder cases.

    I was far enough down on the list though that I got to leave once they found enough people. Took two days to get there though, wtf.

    I never should've registered to vote.

  • Matrix||

    I was on jury duty once, and I remember them telling us what the case involved, basically it was a robbery case and such. But yeah, same boat. 2 days, and I was never actually selected since they had enough people before I could be called.

  • Old Man With Candy||

    Ditto. While they were questioning me, I blurted out, "What does any of this matter? The nigger's guilty!"

    Never been called back.

  • Bill O'Reilly||

    Who are these fucking juries?

    They're patriots, you pinhead.

  • ||

    Likewise. Every time I get notified my entire juror group has always been dismissed in advance, though.

  • Joe M||

    I have jury duty in four weeks. I doubt they'll let me serve.

  • ||

    the county ignored him for 20 years before suddenly demanding that he tear it all down.

    I cannot help wondering what precipitated the sudden interest in Fahey's building.

    Other than our ongoing forced march toward conformity.

  • Mammy Sent Dis Ovah||

    I suspect they are planning to eminent domain his land and thought it best if he paid for the cleanup pre-seizure.

  • ||

    Senator/Congressman X built next door

  • Colin||

    How much you wanna bet this guy Fahey is a life-long Democrat?

  • ||

    they don't want mere citizens building anything on their property that would reduce property values

    Aside from my kneejerk hydrophobic rage at the phrase "proppity valooozes!" I would guess the county could assign an astronomical value to the place, based on what Frank Gehry would charge to conceive and make manifest such a masterpiece of conceptual art.

  • GSL||

    On a lighter note, stories like this may become less common in California, as a major reason for harassing property owners may soon go away: the RDAs are dead.

  • ||

    But of course, Gehry is properly credentialed.

  • hazeeran||

    Damn, he wasn't hurting anybody.

  • Matrix||

    Doesn't matter. Government will go after you under any premise they can just to extort money from you... doesn't matter if you hurt anyone or not. It's about making money, not protecting people.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    More like taking money...

  • ||

    Sure, until some kids tresspassed on his land and got hurt on the unsafe structures. WONT SOMEB....ugh, fucking stupid moron bullshit.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Looking at the pix on HomeDSGN, I can't say I much like this guy's taste on interior design, but I do like the basic concept.

  • ||

    he wasn't hurting anybody.

    Are you kidding? What about all the credentialed design review staff on the Planning and Zoning Commission? The guy's a deranged rightwing terrorist, and must be stopped at any cost!

  • Zeb||

    I thought that this was supposed to be the sort of quirky far-out shit California was proud of.
    I guess the priority now is to make sure they have crushed every remaining bit of quirky individualism that is still left in the state.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Forget about your silly whim. It doesn't fit the plan.

  • OO||

    nuff of phonehedge!
    onto motel hell

  • rather||

    I was going to write on this man from the POV of an artist. The making of the building is interesting too
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....onHWfGssVo

  • Artist?||

    What artist did you interview to get his/her POV? Or were you going to be writing a novel?

  • rather||

    He is an artist. You may understand only an orthodox definition of an artist but I see art even in math

  • Artist?||

    Yeppers...art is in the eye of the beholder... or to put it another way ... I don't know what art is, but I know what I like.

  • rather||

    that is all art, music, even life should be

  • cthulhu||

    "Sir, you are not using your land in a manner approved by the collective. Cease immediately."

    I don't like republicans, but they seem farther from fascist than the democrats.

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    I'm not sure what's more sad here: that he was dragged into court, or that a jury convicted him.

  • ||

    I was assured by the no-name troll just yesterday that these sort of abuses only occur in HOA situations. So this story is obviously false.

  • ||

    So these structures have been there since the early 80s without a problem. The county ought to be forced to give him a permit based on that fact that the things are time-proven to be structurally sound. Also, fuck building inspectors.

  • ||

    "Fuck building inspectors?" This is in Los Angeles, one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world. When the San Andreas lets rip with a 6.0 you might hear of a few dozen people getting squashed, whereas a similar earthquake in some third-world craphole results in thousands dead and utter devastation. The difference lies in those building codes and building inspectors.

    One might take the view that this guy is voluntarily taking is life into his own hands and let him write off his own safety, but if the thing does collapse on him or catch fire people are still going to risk their own lives going in there to try to save him.

    He's had 20 years' warning that his work wasn't safe, I don't see why he should be surprised now.

  • ||

    1) The structure is in Acton, northwest of the city and smackdab between two national forests. It's sparsely populated.

    2) If the structures survived the L.A. '94 earthquake, which registered as a 6.7, I'd say it's sound enough without building inspectors getting their bureaucratic panties in a knot.

    3) If the San Andreas fault line "rips", it will likely be much more powerful than a 6.7, which would render most CA building codes meaningless within the vicinity.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    This story kinda bummed out my whole day. Plus, the guy in the photo looks a lot like me.

    ... Hobbit

  • np||

    If everyone is compelled to serve, then everyone should also be informed about jury nullification as part of that so-called duty.

    Having said that and having served jury duty before, it would also not surprise me to have a bunch of I-know-whats-good-for-you pricks deciding what he can and can't do with his property.

  • ||

    If there were complaints and the city or county does not inspect the property and issue violations (as they did)then if anything happens on the site then the city/county is liable for any and all damages by either insurance companies vested in the property, or adjacent poperties. If it catches on fire and a neighbor a half mile away complains of smoke they can find a way to sue the city/county.

    This is pretty simple. I guarantee the electrical is hazardous, as he adds more and more that will be a problem. All new construction follows dozens of life safety codes that even trained contractors do not completely know entirely by themselves. Anyone that says otherwise is not a developer or home builder.

  • ||

    The city of chicago gets sued by people that get injured in their own property because there were code violations at the property.

    If a building has violations, catches on fire and then firefighters die in the fire then the city/county is open to numerous lawsuits for everyone involved. What the city knows and doesn't know about what is built is very important.

    Blame lawyers.

  • ||

    "blame lawyers constituents"

  • ||

    I guess this one is the final straw. It is confirmed Libertarianism is all concept and of no practical use in society.

  • ||

    You've confirmed that you can't handle the idea of self-responsibility. You think you have a right to other people's money because shit happens in life you can't really control.

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