'Phonehenge' builder ordered to repay county thousands
An eccentric Acton man, convicted of building code violations for constructing an elaborate home-complex dubbed “Phonehenge West,” was ordered by a judge Friday to perform two months of community service and repay Los Angeles County $83,488. In addition, he must pay still-to-be-calculated fines and court fees.
Alan Kimble Fahey, 60, a retired phone company technician, was convicted last June of a dozen building code violations because he did not obtain proper permits to construct the ornate Acton property, which many of his supporters considered a work of art.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daviann L. Mitchell ordered Fahey to perform 63 days of community service, "of which a minimum of five days must be served at the L.A. County or Kern County morgue," Mitchell said.
Fahey, who was forced to tear down Phonehenge, now lives in the Kern County city of Tehachapi.
"I feel it was an enormous waste, not only of the county's time but of taxpayer money," Fahey said of his prosecution. "Why do I have to go to a morgue for five days… for a treehouse?"
Fahey’s sentencing was delayed at least half a dozen times due to illness or the judge's decision to grant him additional time to demolish Phonehenge. The eccentric builder said he was pleased to finally get a judgment because it would allow him to move forward with an appeal. Lennon confirmed he would file the paperwork on Fahey’s behalf within the next week.
Fahey spent almost three decades constructing Phonehenge, a 20,000-square-foot labyrinth of interconnected structures, some built of telephone poles. The highlight was a 70-foot tower. Fahey, his wife, Pat, and teenage son Leo lived in a building he called “the barn.” Shelves and rafters hosted more than 20,000 books and a mountain of curios that Fahey planned to put in a museum, library and gift shop. Turkeys, chickens and a peacock were among the livestock that roamed the yard.
County code enforcement officers argued that Fahey's creation wasn't structurally sound and presented fire and earthquake risks. In August, workers began to tear down the un-permitted buildings.
Deputy District Atty. Patrick David Campbell told the court Friday the demolition was completed March 2. During a three-week period, the county had transported four truckloads of telephone polls totaling 53 tons and additional steel and debris weighing 280 tons. The entire cleanup cost the county $83,488, Campbell said.
The judge ordered Fahey, who survives on an $800-a-month pension, to repay the Department of Public Works $50 a month beginning June 1. She also instructed him to complete a financial evaluation form in order to determine his ability to increase the amount of monthly restitution. The Acton property -- now in foreclosure -- should also be listed, Mitchell said.
"It saddens me that Kim's dream of 30 years has been destroyed by the county," said Bill Guild, vice president of the Antelope Valley Truckers Assn. and among the dozen or so supporters who attended the sentencing. "I go back to the county’s motto 'To enrich lives through effective and caring service.' Tell me, whose life has been enriched? The coffers of L.A. County has been enriched.”
-- Ann M. Simmons at the Antelope Valley Courthouse
Photo: Alan Kimble "Kim" Fahey spent more than three decades turning his Acton property into a habitable sculpture he calls "Phonehenge West," in reference to the phone company for which he worked for 30 years. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times