A judge has sentenced a man to six months in jail for violating city zoning laws with a fence he built around his sprawling home in this exclusive Southern California enclave.
Francisco Linares was told in court months ago that he faced jail time if he didn't either get permits for the 180-foot-long fence or tear it down. He did neither and was sentenced to jail Monday by Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson.
"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, was due back in court next week —ahead of the scheduled start of his jail term —for a hearing at which he can request an appeal that could earn him a reprieve from the county lockup.
"This is nothing that you should be taken to court for," Linares said of the fence.
Linares and his family bought their nearly one-acre lot about 25 miles south of Los Angeles 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 then 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.
Linares' attorney Richard Hamar called the sentence "bizarre."
"It is Orwellian," he said. "It is coming from a very dark place."