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San Luis Obispo rancher who housed homeless is sentenced to jail for safety code violations

Rancher

A San Luis Obispo rancher who for years has illegally housed homeless people was ordered today to serve 90 days in jail.

A defiant Dan de Vaul stretched out his arms and let deputies place handcuffs on him before being led out of the San Luis Obispo courtroom. The 66-year-old defendant was offered probation after a jury convicted him in September of two misdemeanor violations of building and safety codes at his Sunny Acres ranch.

But De Vaul refused the terms of his probation because he said it would mean he could no longer provide shelter for about 30 people who reside in his sober-living facility. For eight years, he’s operated the program on his 72-acre ranch, housing clients in mobile homes, tents, garden sheds and an aging Victorian home.

For a time, he also housed people in a three-story stucco barracks until it was shut down last year.

“The first condition of probation is obey all laws,” De Vaul said before the hearing, which was attended by about 30 of his supporters. “I’m proud to go to jail for housing the homeless.”

Superior Court Judge John Trice said San Luis Obispo officials have repeatedly offered to help De Vaul bring his property up to code. But De Vaul has declined all attempts at help, Trice said.

“Such conduct can only be viewed as irresponsible and arrogant,” the judge said before sentencing him to jail.

De Vaul was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

-- Catherine Saillant in San Luis Obispo

Photo: San Luis Obispo deputy sheriff Noah Martin puts the handcuffs on Dan De Vaul after De Vaul was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (103)

It is going to cost us tax payers $12,000 - $15,000 to keep this man in jail on top of the costs associated with prosecuting him. I say fine the prosecutors and the Judge, and give $20,000 to Mr de Vaul to be spent helping the homeless.

It is going to cost us tax payers $12,000 - $15,000 to keep this man in jail on top of the costs associated with prosecuting him. I say fine the prosecutors and the Judge, and give $20,000 to Mr de Vaul to be spent helping the homeless.

umm. What if the homeless that is housed there get hurt because of these code violations? What would you say then? "Damn government knew about these violations and chose not to do anything about it," is what you would probably say.

they were from GOVERNMENT and they were to help him. I wonder why he refused. How about government uses bilions that they confiscate to take care of homeless and live the rancher alone. Outrage....

Un-believable...
there are court personnel who go against the very
Constitution of the United States by concealing evidence and
planting false evidence to a court jury...
and now justice goes after the homeless shelters...
watch out JESUS...california justice says you are not in code...
bring your court personnel to justice and prison time for rigging
a jury trial and covering it up...
hypocrites.

Where are all the do gooders in Hollywood, they should jump in and help, it is their state. And, Venice beach is full of homeless, maybe the ranch could be fixed up and supported by the Rich and Famous and get them off the city streets. How about helping the homeless with no food instead of going to Africa or other poor nations. Keep it at home.

Where are all the do gooders in Hollywood, they should jump in and help, it is their state. And, Venice beach is full of homeless, maybe the ranch could be fixed up and supported by the Rich and Famous and get them off the city streets. How about helping the homeless with no food instead of going to Africa or other poor nations. Keep it at home.

This is about government agency power out of control. Dan de Vaul is a common man's hero who truly cares about and protects those in need. If this abuse of government power continues there will be a revolution in our country. The jury members should be ashamed. I pray for him and his efforts. May God protect him and give him strength, wisdom, and guidance. So mote it be!

No wonder we have the most people in jail and homeless than any other industrialized nation.

Sad.

Judge Trice is the one who is irresponsible and arrogant. The good old government -- damned if you do, damned if you don't. But that's okay. Folks in this country are reaching a breaking point and those in government will be held accountable. God bless Dan de Vaul.

This article is terribly written, but it's shocking how many people are willing to jump to conclusions about the story.

I did a quick google search and found out more about this man that this appalling story has revealed.

but here are a few critical questions which are not answered and are key to understanding the case:
1) How much would the improvements to the property cost?
2) What were the nature of the required improvements?

This is San Luis Obispo, a community well known for strict building codes, which extend far beyond sanitation and fire. Read some of the other articles about neighbors and developers who saw his property not as a health and safety issue, but as an eyesore. So EXACTLY WHICH codes is he being found not in compliance with? If it's aesthetic issues, than the case is complete idiocy. Previously, a barn he was housing people in had been closed - a perfectly legitimate reason for a person to go to jail for not following.

As for the larger point - the fact that a man trying to help homeless people is harassed and jailed, and then eviscerated by idiots, tells you all you need to know about the state of the US today. Anyone who actually does anything is prosecuted while everyone else sits on the sidelines and points fingers.

So LA Times, please do some actual research and tell us exactly what the problems were, how much the improvements would have cost, who was interested in him having his property condemned, etc.
There was a time when reporting was about who, what, when, why and how, but no it appears to be who, when,....whatever....

Perhaps the reason he refused "help" is that it came with too many strings attached. What exactly were those "safety code violations?" Some of them are reasonable, but can be pretty People have lived under "unsafe" conditions in our country since colonial days. We make museum displays about them and call them heroes.

Do the homeless people themselves get a choice? I doubt it. We're so busy protecting them that we forget they're human. I'm sure they will fell much safer living under a highway overpass!

I doubt these people were paying rent. I doubt they were being held captive. That makes them guests. If you have guests at your home, does that mean the government can come in and throw their weight around?

I feel very sorry for the homeless this generous man has been helping. I can't know his circumstances to understand why his place was not brought up to code, but one thing I know, the minute the "government" helps out in any way or form, you HAVE to follow their rules. I agree, private donors could help him bring his place up to code, not the Government.

I personally doubt illegal stuff was going on, or the courts would have found that already, just too many homeless all over the country. I pray there are more likle this man.

At least this guy is doing something to help the homeless. The judge who sentenced him is obviously and idiot. As for the people on this forum siding with the legal system in this case, SHAME ON YOU TOO!

This article stated that there was help offered, but it does not expound on the type of help offered. I'm sure "help" didn't include fully paying for the work/labor that was needed to bring his property up to code. He's already doing enough for these people and our society as a whole, so if a project like that was not fully funded, I wouldn't have taken the help either. I HOPE this article generates some publicity for him. Maybe volunteers can get involved and money might be donated so that any project that gets his property up to code can be done with no out-of-pocket expenses for de Vaul.

The city all overreacted

a working class hero is something to be
john lennon

a working class hero is something to be
john lennon

City overreacted, who's the arrogant? I would say the judge commulgated with it.

City overreacted, who's the arrogant? I would say the judge commulgated with it.

Look at what the World has become.....It is sad to see stories like this. Look at the real story!!! This guy is helping the homeless and he refused the help of goverment... yeah right what goverment. All we do in this country is screw the people and the goverment is getting richer everyday by sending $$$$$$ to other countries. Wake up people and smell the truth.

Look at what the World has become.....It is sad to see stories like this. Look at the real story!!! This guy is helping the homeless and he refused the help of goverment... yeah right what goverment. All we do in this country is screw the people and the goverment is getting richer everyday by sending $$$$$$ to other countries. Wake up people and smell the truth.

It is difficult to be critical of a man who has been so devoted to helping the homeless.

Before we judge the motives of Dan de Vaul, we should hear his reasons for refusing help from the county to bring his property up to code.

This is great - the SLO County Probation Department uses the Farm as a way station for parolees per the "New Times SLO" article of November 23, 2009:

"Basically, we’ve kind of told our officers we’re not to make recommendations or tell people to go live on DeVaul’s ranch. However, if a person on probation chooses to do so on their own accord, we do not prevent them.”

The probation department professes neutrality on the Farm but is OK if some of their charges want to live there. So now the local government has effectively shut him down and will likely use their code violation power to impose fines as a means of acquiring the 72 acre ranch of prime SLO real estate. The foreclosed land will ultimately be sold to a developer who can profit obscenely and the county will have higher tax revenues from the developed land. As with most things - if you seek a motive, follow the money.

Gang banging and drive-by shooting don't even go to jail. Something is very wrong with the Judge. Housing illegals won't go to jail and homeless do. Is this America?

 
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