What does it mean to live in a free country? What does it mean to own something?
If I went out and purchased a 1960's Gibson Les Paul and wanted to smash it live on stage during a show couldn't I do it since its my property? If I purchased a house and wanted to paint it red, white and blue isn't it my right to do what I wish with my own property?
In Antelope Valley, CA the question of freedom and ownership has come front and center. Alan Kimble Fahey purchased a plot of land and over 30 years built a series of structures out of telephone polls and steel beams, now the country is arguing to have it all taken down.
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.
Almost three decades later, Fahey, 59, a retired phone service technician, was still working on what is now a sprawling, 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected buildings he calls "Phonehenge West," stopping only when he was forced to. (The site is not to be confused with Phonehenge, a configuration at a theme park near Myrtle Beach, S.C., featuring England's famed red telephone booths.)
Los Angeles County code enforcers are now demanding that Fahey's Phonehenge be torn down because of an array of building and fire code violations. The district attorney has charged Fahey with 14 criminal misdemeanor counts of maintenance of un-permitted properties and unlawful use of land, offenses that could carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison. Fahey has refused to settle the case, and a jury trial is set to begin Thursday in Lancaster.
The battle over Phonehenge West has sparked strong feelings in the Antelope Valley. The high desert is vast and desolate, offering large parched lots at relatively reasonable prices. Many residents view it as a kind of modern frontier. They moved to the area to escape the confines of urban living, and they balk at what they consider authoritarian restrictions and regulations.
Truckers have been cited for keeping big rigs in their yards. Other residents have faced fines for storing cargo containers on their properties or keeping too much livestock. Local online forums and blogs are ablaze with complaints that code enforcers are overly aggressive.
Until Fahey goes forward with his plan to open his structure up to the public, this is his land and his property he should be free to do with it as he wishes.
I would agree that in order to become a public structure he would need to meet reasonable safety codes but until then he should be free to do as he wishes just as someone who ones something else can do with it what they wish.
The reason I bring this up is because several Free Staters moving to NH have also built structures here without following rules and getting the required permits. I wouldn't be surprised to see similar fights spring up here in NH in the next few years so we should begin discussing the concept now so we're ready when it happens.
I leave you with a couple quotes to contimplate as you think about the above story.
“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.” Samuel Adams
“No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent.” John Jay
“The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.” John Locke
“So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community. “ William Blackstone