Thursday, June 02, 2011

Alan Kimble Fahey, creator of 'Phonehenge West' to testify in code enforcement case

Acton man faces possible time behind bars if convicted in the trial over his home, built partly of utility poles.

May 30, 2011 By Ann Simmons, Los Angeles Times
Lawyers for an Acton property owner accused of building code violations will seek to defend his elaborate home expansion project as a work of art in a trial in Lancaster slated to wrap up this week.

Alan Kimble Fahey, 59, spent almost three decades constructing the 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected buildings — including a 70-foot tower — he calls Phonehenge West. In 2008, Los Angeles County code enforcement officials ordered him to stop. They have      demanded that he tear the structure down.
Prosecutors subsequently charged him with 14 criminal misdemeanor counts that include maintenance of un-permitted properties and unlawful use of land, and a jury began hearing testimony last week in the unusual case. Fahey could spend up to seven years in prison if found guilty.

Photos: 'Phonehenge West'

Fahey's lawyer, Jerry Lennon, said that his client's creation was unique and that regulators should demonstrate some flexibility.

"There should be room in the world of administrative regulations where they account for people like Fahey," Lennon said. "He's not hurting anyone; and I don't think there's a mechanical or structural problem he can't resolve."

Lennon also argued that building code officials were lax in tracking the case over many years and missed opportunities to find an equitable solution.

But in opening arguments last week, Los Angeles County deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick David Campbell told jurors that Fahey flouted building code regulations because he considered himself above the law and that he set his own standards for construction.

"Fahey doesn't believe the rules apply to him," Campbell said. "He has set up his own arrogant interpretation of the law."

Speaking before Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell, Campbell said the foundations of several of Fahey's structures were built with telephone poles and were "inherently unsafe" and could hurt people. He summed up the case as "Never-Never Land."

The prosecutor called on building code and zoning enforcement officials, who detailed the process for applying for building permits and the history of the agency's dealings with Fahey.

Daniel Geringer, a county regional planning assistant, told the court that Fahey had been notified that he was in violation on several fronts. The infractions included maintaining a structure that exceeds the maximum height limit of 35 feet and possession of two noncommercial wind turbines.

Copyright 2011 Los Angeles Times


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