SoCal Man Gets 6 Months in Jail for Fence Around His Home
ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Aug. 29, 2007 -- A resident of this exclusive enclave was sentenced to six months in jail for violating city zoning laws with a fence he built around his sprawling home.
A judge handed Francisco Linares the sentence this week, months after he was told in court that he faced jail time if he didn't either get permits for the 180-foot-long fence or tear it down.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Linares chose not to comply and his decision has forced the court to act accordingly," zoning and code administrator Roy Beall said, reading from a prepared statement.
Linares, 51, is due back in court Sept. 6 - ahead of the scheduled start of his jail term. At that time, he can appeal the sentence.
"This is nothing that you should be taken to court for," Linares said.
Linares and his family bought their nearly one-acre lot in 1998 and tore down the 3,000-square-foot home on the property to replace it with a house nearly twice the size.
He said he discovered termites in the existing fence that separated his lot from the city bridle trail that borders it, so he replaced it with a new one.
In 2004, he received a letter from the city stating that "the new fence has reduced the width of the trail significantly, making it impossible for maintenance vehicles to pass through."
With the fence still standing in January, he pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor violations of city municipal and county building codes, and the city agreed to drop six other misdemeanor charges.
He also promised to either get final permits for the fence and other offending structures or tear them down, but did neither, which led to his sentencing on Monday.
Linares' attorney Richard Hamar called the sentence "bizarre."
"It is Orwellian," he said. "It is coming from a very dark place."
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