Entries in Fahey (1)

Tuesday
Jan102012

Alan Kimble Fahey's Fight for Freedom

Bargain land and wide-open spaces drew Alan Kimble Fahey to Acton. A modest ranch house on a desert lot offered the outpost he sought.

But then Fahey wanted to expand. So he began to build.

And build. And build.

Fahey built a barn and moved in. He traded his motorcycle for a trailer and painted it to look like a rail car. He bartered other possessions for a dump-truck load of rocks and a 60-foot workers lift. Then he sank 108 utility poles a dozen feet into the hard-packed Antelope Valley ground. Reinforced steel beams came next. A giant tower began creeping skyward. A wing sprouted off the tower. Then another.

In 2008 Alan Kimble Fahey, 59-year old man, was ordered by Los Angeles County code enforcement officials to stop further construction on his labyrinth of interconnected buildings in Acton and tear it down as it violated multiple building codes. He was subsequently charged with 14 criminal misdemeanor counts that include maintenance of un-permitted properties and unlawful use of land. The charges can result in prison time for up to seven years, if he is found guilty. The case is supposed to wrap up this week.

Fahey spent 3 decades for his elaborate home expansion project, constructing 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected buildings — including a 70-foot tower — he calls Phonehenge West. The name is in reference to his 30 years as a phone service technician. The structure is made of wood, iron and other discarded items Fahey has collected. Fahey uses a motorized cart to get between buildings.

Foundations of several of his structures are made with telephone poles, which can make the structure unsafe. He was asked to submit his plans but he told the officials he couldnt because he didnt know how it was going to turn out.

Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times reported in May that Faheys case triggered an outpouring of support from fans who share his defiance of code enforcement. His creation is composed of a hodgepodge of reddish buildings braced with scores of utility poles and steel beams and connected by bridges and ramps. One of the buildings is a barn, where Fahey lives with his wife and 16-year-old son. Another is a trailer painted to look like a rail car. The 70-foot tower is adorned with Italian stained-glass windows.

Faheys lawyer, Jerry Lennon, said that his clients 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. Hes not hurting anyone; and I dont think theres a mechanical or structural problem he cant 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.

The Los Angeles County District Attorny did not share Faheys Libertarian beliefs.  In May 2011, 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 doesnt believe the rules apply to him, Campbell said. He has set up his own arrogant interpretation of the law.  Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick David Campbell argued during the trial that Fahey was a proud and talented artist, but also stubborn, and didn’t feel that code enforcement rules applied to him.

Lennon defended Phonehenge West as an artistic creation.  A collector of curios and more than 20,000 books, Fahey said he planned to create a museum, library and gift shop that would make money for his family and the community of Acton. He also wants to build a crafts workshop for disabled children.

The defense attorney insisted that Fahey was aware of the safety issues and wanted to work with code enforcement officials, but that officials ignored him or were too disorganized to follow through.

The jury deliberated six days and had so much difficulty reaching a complete verdict that attorneys at one point were ordered to re-argue certain portions of the case. Jurors twice reported that they were deadlocked on several charges, but Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell ordered the panel of eight men and six women, including two alternates, to deliberate further.  Fahey was found guilty of 12 misdemeanor counts, including maintenance of non-permitted properties and unlawful use of land.  He was  required to do some community service, and stayed out of jail by complying with the judge’s orders to immediately vacate the buildings that didnt have permits.

Faheys complex of interconnected structures in Acton, California, is under court order to be almost totally destroyed, and demolition has begun. But Phonehenge will be reborn in Californias Kern County.

Check out the Save Pgonehenge West Page on Facebook which currently has 29,000 (and growing) followers.