Local zoning laws, local code enforcement, and local property rights issues are the areas where the government’s tyranny is both the most petty and most oppressive. Petty neighbors will unleash the power of government against those with whom they have a personal dislike.
Such is the case with a man from Littlerock, CA. In a case of selective enforcement, where many properties are undoubtedly in some code violation, the county has chosen to ignore neighbors with those violations and concentrate only on him.
He has the County of Los Angeles threatening him with criminal charges for two reasons. The first is that he collects classic cars. Many of them do not operate, and apparently it is against county code to maintain inoperable vehicles on ones property. It is not a matter of whether or not these cars are properly registered, it is only a matter of these cars being inoperable.
The second is a public service he has been performing for the desert communities in the eastern side of northern Los Angeles County. He collected trash that people dump in the along the sides of the road and sorts through it to separate the recyclables from the trash. There is nothing in county code against doing that, so he thought it was allowed. According to representatives from the county, there is nothing in county code allowing that, so they say it is forbidden.
One would think that cleaning up the illegal dumping would be a valuable public service in the eyes of the county. To add further insult, he has been cited with violation of existing code provisions for home based occupations (022.070.035, which permits home based occupations).
When he first aroused the wrath of the county they merely suggested he put up a privacy fence so that his collection would not be an eyesore. He did that, and thought his ordeal was over. But merely following the advice of county code enforcement was not enough, and they determined that he was engaged in an illegal use of his property.
In a negotiation with representatives of the county, he was given 45 days to remove all inoperable vehicles. His lawyer protested that he would need 90 days. The county threatened him with criminal charges unless he agreed with the 45 day time frame. If he does not complete the removal in 45 days the county will likely press forward with the criminal charges.
Moreover he was threatened with being declared incompetent or a "hoarder," and threatened with having a "receiver" assigned to him at his own expense. This receiver would have the county come in with a crew of workers and trucks to clean everything off the property. To pay for this a special tax would be assessed against him that would try to pay this bill off in three years, and if he is unable to pay the expense then the county would place a lien against his property for unpaid taxes that would authorize the county to sell his property at auction.
There seems to be a definite trend with the county harassing elderly property owners with sanctions that ultimately result in seizing their land. They seek those who have the least resources to fight back and harasses them to the point where they are unable to resist any further, breaking them physically, mentally, and financially.
This fight has drained the meager resources of this man from Littlerock, and he has discovered that there is precious little separation of powers in Los Angeles County. There is little in the way of accountability or appeal. This is local tyranny at its finest and worst.