Times are hard. Houses in SoCal can cost three times what they do in other parts of the country. Getting a home loan for your everyday two-income family in L.A. can take an act of God. And there's all that open space in Southern California, too.

Shame. Someone should just up and build a house there — right in the middle of the park! Occupy that land, damn it.

Wait. Cops say that's just what 51-year-old Robert Downs did in Tujunga Ponds Wildlife Sanctuary:

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The L.A. Sheriff's Department, which patrols the park, said late yesterday that deputies on patrol Monday morning found the house in a remote area of the sanctuary.

A statement from Deputy Johnie K. Jones called the home “crude” but noted:

The structure had four bunk beds built into the walls, tables, shelves and even fire extinguishers on the walls. They also had a rock patio in front of the building with a barbeque and tables.

We can imagine a bidding war heating up for it already. It's got character. And what a view.

Downs told cops he build the expanse eight months ago with materials he got from a home repair store, according to the statement. Jones:

Credit: LASD

Credit: LASD

He camouflaged the entire structure down to the tire of the wheelbarrow by cutting down trees and using camouflage tarp and paint to keep from being detected by law enforcement.

In architectural parlance this is called geo-engineering, and it's hot.

Deputies say Downs also had some landscaping that wasn't up to code, including eight marijuana plants nearby. (We hear they're drought-tolerant.)

For that he was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana. Downs was also hit for allegedly removing plants and trees from a county park. (Guess adding a few doesn't make up for it.)

He was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail. Two other “transients,” ages 30 and 45, were issued citations for minor violations.

Unfortunately, deputies say the residence is coming down in the next few weeks. You can't have a house in the park. You can't even be there after dark.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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