Here is some disturbing news out of Los Angeles.
A [tag-tec]homeowner [/tag-tec]is being sent to jail for making some improvements on his property.
This is a new twist to the old game of fighting city hall [tag-self]codes[/tag-self] because it is rare for anyone to be threatened with jail time. Usually the codes offender gets a hefty fine.
Francisco Linares, who is a highly successful insurance agent and respected naturalized, church-going citizen of the city of Rolling Hills Estates, California, will be serving time along with drug dealers, child molesters and burglars.
Unless a miracle happens between now and September 10th, he’ll be in there for six months.
Well, that is in dispute, but it all started with a simple white fence, which he claimed had termites.
A judge has ruled not only did he erect a new fence in violation of codes, but he did not cooperate with city officials to resolve the issue.
Linares claims otherwise. He says city officials were not clear on the codes or the rules, and did not work with him.
The Daily Breeze, a local newspaper, reports a reader meltdown; the biggest in their forum history. Over 500 comments were left by readers as of Tuesday evening.
Readers are overwhelmingly supportive of Linares and are very angry with Torrance Supreme Court Judge Sandra Thomas, as well as politicians in general and the city government. Frankly, I don’t blame them.
Here Are My Observations:
1. Try your best to understand and abide by codes, if humanly possible
The codes were unclear in Linares’ situation, and that’s not uncommon. This can become be a gray area full of bombs if you’re not careful.
2. Work with your city councilman and get him on your side
If codes are fuzzy, and they often are, try to convince your councilman it is to his advantage to work with you. The Linares case will go down as a battle cry. City officials need to take note.
3. Always have your properties surveyed
Disputes can easily be avoided if you go through the proper channels. Work with a lawyer and surveyor if you have any inkling there could be any problems whatsoever. Don’t assume anything.
4. Get permits
Don’t change anything unless you have the proper paperwork. Most of the time city codes will nail you when you try to sell the property. This case is unusual but most code violators end up paying big money on the average.
5. Vote for Property Rights- Friendly Judges and Officials
Pay close attention to the rulings of judges. Many are still elected. As citizens we still have the right to determine whether we believe they are ruling according to The Constitution.
The Linares case has blown the lid off a dirty little secret. City governments are not always fair, reasonable, or even user-friendly.
Sure, maybe Linares may have made some mistakes, but all of the issues could have been resolved. There is no reason to send him to jail.
Isn’t it supposed to be a government of the people, for the people and by the people?