LOS ANGELES – Residents of Phonehenge West, the eccentric little village of colorful structures that rose up in the Mojave Desert over the years without benefit of building permits, have been told to start packing.
Representatives of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office and county Public Works Department visited the 1.7-acre village in Acton, 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, on Wednesday.
Their mission, said county Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer, was to determine whether Phonehenge West's creator, retired telephone technician Kim Fahey, is complying with a court order to shut off electricity and vacate a dozen buildings he erected over the years without obtaining county approval first.
"It was found that Mr. Fahey had not complied with the court order," Spencer said.
District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said residents were told to prepare to move because all but one of the residential structures would soon be declared uninhabitable. Fahey has said nine people live in the various buildings.
After he was convicted of 12 misdemeanor building code violations last month, a judge ordered Fahey to start dismantling the buildings. They include a 70-foot tower, a replica of a Viking house and other esoteric creations the self-taught builder put together over the years out of mainly scrap materials.
Proponents of Phonehenge West have praised it as a stunning example of American folk art, but authorities say its buildings don't meet safety standards and are a hazard to the people who live in them.
Fahey, who is scheduled to be sentenced July 22, could face several years in prison if he doesn't comply with the judge's order. He has promised to appeal.
He was not home Wednesday when 15 officials from the county agencies showed up. His phone rang unanswered and his wife's cell phone was not accepting calls.
His son Noah, who also lives on the property, complained that if authorities follow through on their demand that people move, several will be left homeless.
"I live in the only legally permitted structure on the property," Noah Fahey said by phone from his house. He added it's a small one-bedroom structure that he already shares with another person.
That home, built in the 1930s, is the only one that was there when Fahey bought the property.
The 59-year-old builder, a colorful, outspoken man with long, flowing white hair and beard, and a preference for denim coveralls and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, constructed each of the buildings to his own specifications as inspiration struck him.
He said he named the place Phonehenge West at the suggestion of a buddy who worked with him at the phone company.
Although he's a self-taught builder who foraged most of his materials, Fahey has insisted that he built each structure to exceed safety requirements.
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