Man jailed for not dismantling Phonehenge West
Alan Kimble Fahey, who was convicted of building code violations for constructing an elaborate complex dubbed Phonehenge West, was sent to jail Friday for refusing to comply with orders to vacate and destroy parts of his Antelope Valley landmark.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell set Fahey’s bail at $75,000 and had deputies escort the 59-year-old Acton man from the courtroom. The stiff penalty drew protests afterward from an overflow crowd of Fahey’s backers. Like him, they oppose what they consider excessively stringent building codes.
The judge told the courtroom that she had not wanted to put Fahey in jail at first. She had left him a free man since his conviction in early June so he could dismantle the illegal portions of his creation “in a safe and orderly fashion,” she said.
But “he blatantly disregarded the court’s orders,” Mitchell said. She said her key concerns were fire hazards. Much of Phonehenge West is made of wood. Also, the county says the property lacks sufficient water and access for firefighters.
A retired phone service technician, Fahey spent almost 30 years constructing the 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected buildings, stopping only when Los Angeles County code enforcement officials forced him to in 2008. The creation, which includes a 70-foot tower, is a hodgepodge of reddish buildings — some built with telephone poles — connected by bridges and ramps. Fahey keeps a guest book that visitors sign.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick David Campbell told the judge that he had visited Fahey’s property since the conviction but saw no “significant evidence” that Fahey had made any effort to comply with the judge’s orders.
People were still living in the unlawful buildings, illegal electrical sources were still connected and few personal belongings appeared to have been removed from the unpermitted structures, Campbell said.
Fahey spoke in his own defense. He told the judge that he was trying to dissemble the property and had removed 70 of 140 windows and a few doors. He said he didn’t know how to disconnect the illegal electrical sources without cutting off power and water to his entire property. And although he had asked residents in the illegal structures to leave, they had no place else to go, Fahey said.
Jerry Lennon, Fahey’s lawyer, argued that in light of how long it had taken to build the complex, ample time would be needed to dismantle it. The attorney, who had defended Phonehenge West as an artistic creation, requested the judge reduce the amount of his client’s bail because he was not a flight risk.
But Mitchell was unmoved.
“You’re putting your family, first responders and the community at risk,” she told Fahey.
Fahey’s wife, Pat, who is helping her husband file an appeal, said after the hearing that the couple’s lives have been “tense” and “difficult” since the conviction. Their son Noah, 26, said he and others were going “to pull strings to see if we can get him bailed out.”
Fahey will be sentenced July 22 for his original criminal building code offenses. He could face more jail time and substantial fees, according to his lawyer.
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