Opinions on art may vary, and artistic expression is a personal thing, but in most cases building codes are not. This is what Alan Kimble Fahey in Acton CA is currently discovering.
Over the past 30 years, he’s been making alterations and additions to what was once a modest ranch house—efforts that have resulted in a 20,000 square foot array of connected structures. Los Angeles county code officials have been in touch with Fahey about these home improvements in past years, but the issue has finally arrived in court (perhaps prompted by Fahey’s desire to use some of his space for a museum and library). The 14 criminal misdemeanor counts include maintenance of unpermitted properties and unlawful use of land.
While safety and aesthetics are what the county takes issue with, Fahey says he’s within his rights and should be allowed to keep the fruits of his years of labor, which he also defends as a work of art, intact. He has dubbed his work of art “Phonehenge West” — a nod to the infamous similarly named structure in England as well as his decades long career as a phone service technician.
The creation is set on 1.7 acres, and its highest point is a 70′ high tower outfitted with stained glass windows. Glamour magazine even recently used the tower as a backdrop for one of its fashion spreads.
An LA Times story last week featured a photo gallery of Fahey’s creation. LA Times story and photos
The trial goes into its sixth day today, and a supportive Facebook page “Save Phonehenge West” provides a recap of the June 2 happenings (referring to Fahey as “Kim”:
Day five of proceedings in front of the Jury: The last prosecution witness finished his testimony and Defense Attorney Jerry Lennon called Kim as his only witness. In his direct examination of Kim, Mr. Lennon elicited testimony about how the Building and Safety Department failed to respond to Kim’s request for inspections required in finalizing building permits. and how the Fire Inspector failed to assess correctly the available water supply on the property, thereby exaggerating alleged fire danger. The emphasis overall was on Kim’s good faith efforts to comply with the rules and to build safely. Deputy D.A. Dave Campbell, the prosecutor, had Kim confirm a list of buildings for which Kim has not succeeded in obtaining permits, and quizzed Kim about his public comments about the case, attempting to prove that Kim is not respectful of the law. Closing arguments could be the key to whether the jury sides with Mr. Lennon or with Mr. Campbell. The trial resumes for its sixth day at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, 6/3/11, in Department A-6 of the Antelope Valley Courthouse, located on Avenue M (Columbia Way) and 4th Street West in Lancaster, CA, east of the 14 Freeway. Jury deliberations are expected to commence after the Court recesses for lunch.
Fahey’s complex is not the only Phonehenge in the United States. A South Carolina attraction, Freestyle Music Park in Myrtle Beach, has its own phone related nod to Stonehenge. However, while this structure and the rest of the park still stands, it’s not open for the 2011 season and is for sale.
(Top two photos courtesy of Save Phonehenge West)