Talk back: Property rights or public nuisance?
County officials are cracking down on residents of Los Angeles County’s High Desert for the debris, illegal construction and junked vehicles that litter the land, The Times’ Ann Simmons reported.
The self-proclaimed "desert rats" move to the barren area for the open space and seclusion, and they take pride in their self-sufficiency, using solar panels and wind turbines for power, enormous storage tanks for water and an assortment of trailers, outbuildings and vehicles as shelter from the sun.
But the county views this way of life differently, and Nuisance Abatement Teams are using surprise inspections and criminal charges to clear properties of illegal shelters, junk and animal pens. Violators have been forced to pay fees and fines; some have had to tear down their dwellings. Others have faced trial, and a few have landed in jail.
Some residents say their property rights are being violated, while the county argues the blight is reducing the quality of life in the area.
Readers weighed in on both sides of the issue.
"Why is it acceptable for these people to trash and pollute just because they 'own' the land," asked reader weather21.
Commenter zupralim wrote that the county should leave residents alone if they’re not causing trouble: "It’s a waste of taxpayer money going after peaceful people since they are on their own property. They just want to live the way they want."
Where do you stand? Should residents be left to their own devices or should the county step in to clean up the area?
-- Samantha Schaefer