'Phonehenge West' Builder Alan Kim Fahey, OG Desert Rat, Arrested After 30 Years of Ignoring L.A. County Building Codes
[Update: A friend of Fahey's named Cristina Warren tells us that his entire estate was raided today -- his entire extended family allegedly kicked out, their farm animals impounded (turkeys, dogs, cats, the works) and electricity cut off to Phonehenge. Posts on the "Save Phonehenge West" Facebook page confirm. The Associated Press also released a short, confusing piece on the raid, saying Fahey has "been told to start packing" by the L.A. County District Attorney.
The only (unconfirmed) good news: Warren says the org Spaces, which crusades for the preservation of architectural oddities like L.A.'s Watts Towers, has promised her that they're going to take on Fahey's case. We certainly hope so. "If they can protect Kim, he can advocate for a lot of people," says Warren. "A lot of hearts are going to break if his place is affected."]
Originally posted July 11 at 9 a.m.
The arrest of Antelope Valley resident and rogue architect Alan Kim Fahey on Friday is an ominous sign for the motley crew of "Desert Rats" who have been living, and building, just as they please for the last few decades, without much fuss from L.A. County officials.
Over 30 years, Fahey has erected a crazy-beautiful treehouse of sorts on his property, made entirely of telephone poles -- a structure he claims is "held up by massive posts rooted deeply in the ground and reinforced by steel I-beams," and remains "unshaken by 100 mph winds."
But the free-range lifestyle that Fahey helped create is under full-scale attack by county code enforcers, as LA Weekly reporter Mars Melnicoff wrote in her June cover story "L.A. County's Private Property War":
At one early [Antelope Valley Truckers Organization] meeting, a resident stood up to complain about his plight, but he wasn't a trucker and barely got any notice. He was Kim Fahey, the defiant Phonehenge builder who would become a rallying figure, a code enforcement resister who made headlines nationally when he lost his 5-year fight in court in early June.
Fahey points out that those who purportedly "hate" his buildings remain anonymous. "They said it was A. Nonymous," he jokes. "If I ever run into A. Nonymous in a bar, I'm going to kick his ass."
But Fahey is serious when he reflects on the implications of his trial, saying, "The story is more important than me, because they are doing this to thousands of people. I'm just trying to bring it to the forefront."
Though Fahey's Superior Court sentencing wasn't scheduled until July 22, he was allowed to remain unjailed on the condition that he cut off electricity to Phonehenge West and clear all residents from the various huts (collectively called the "family compound") that surround it. Of course, being the weathered old rebel that he is, Fahey did no such thing, reports the Santa Clarita Valley Signal:
He was convicted of 12 building-code violations but hosted a rally and community barbecue in support of his cause as recently as two weeks ago, offering tours of the 30,000-square-foot structure.
As of today, Kim Fahey's donation website appears to have helped raise the $75,000 bail set by Judge Daviann Mitchell, because he's back to updating his "Save Phonehenge West" Facebook page with dreamy run-ons, somehow filled with hope. And another poster pleads with the page's 30,000 followers to keep it up:
"Kim is appealing the kangaroo ruling, but that move will amount to shit unless he can either afford the $30,000 to $50,000 to hire an appellate attorney, or find one that will donate his or her services. There are almost 30,000 of us, and so far only$900 in the pot. Turn your energy into action by dropping a few bucks towards an outcome we all want."
We're trying to get in touch with Fahey's team, to find out exactly how the arrest/release went down. For now, here's more from the Antelope Valley residents under attack:
More photos of Phonehenge, after the jump.
"The Barn," where Kim and his immediate family live.
SavePhonehengeWest.org"The Barn," where Kim and his immediate family live.
SavePhonehengeWest.orgA covered bridge at the desert oasis.
SavePhonehengeWest.org"Kim and his model of the completed tower."
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.