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UPDATE: Bail Offered to Rolling Hills Estates Man Sentenced to Jail for Building Permit Violations

Illegal fenceUPDATE: The Daily Breeze reports that Francisco Linares will not have to report to jail Monday after all if he posts $100,000 bail. Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson ruled that Linares could remain free while appealing his six-month sentence for violating his plea agreement for municipal code violations.

My original posting from Aug. 29:

The Daily Breeze reported Monday, Aug. 27, that an insurance company manager, Francisco Linares, was sentenced to six months in jail, without the possibility of probation or home arrest, for failing to get permits for a fence, retaining wall, patio and concrete columns at his Rolling Hills Estates home.

According to the newspaper report, after Linares pleaded no contest in January to five misdemeanor counts of violating the Rolling Hills Estates municipal building code, Torrance Superior Court Judge Sandra Thompson gave him six months to get final permits for the improvements or take them down.

He apparently did neither.

Comments from Breeze readers ran the gamut from he shoulda followed the law to throw the judge out of office. Here’s a taste:

Our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves. The right to life, liberty and property, eh? Just another constraint on the bundle of rights that used to come with ownership.

. . . and . . .

So, had they let Linares off the hook, here’s the message it would have sent to the law-abiding who spent the time and money to comply: SUCKERS — You got run through the wringer for obeying the rules, and you should have ignored them like Linares did. You may not like the rules, but isn’t it up to the citizens of RHE to decide what kind of community they have?

I agree with the judge. What’s your opinion?

(Photo: Anne Cusack / LOS ANGELES TIMES)

41 Comments on UPDATE: Bail Offered to Rolling Hills Estates Man Sentenced to Jail for Building Permit Violations

  1. clint ryberg // September 6, 2007 at 4:59 pm // Reply

    So Anotherway, Do you, really, believe, that we owe you the right to walk through their property? Get a friggin life and buy some properties and you will quickly disagree.
    You should have been grateful for a 3 foot easement. What the hell are you going to take there, a tank? 15 feet, no way. Somebody had to pay for that 15 feet and it is not the state. It, certainly, is not you. It is the poerson who bought the property.
    You silly people who live in apartments in the city, simply, have no conception. You guys buck up and start paying some property taxes and development fees. Your attitude will change very, very quickly.
    It is us property owners that allow you to have parks and recreation. It is us property owners who pay for your public transportation and even a call to 911.
    You people who rent pay nothing. You might get a tax on your phone bill for 911 but build a home and you will see what it cost. That is why your rent is so high. Somebody has to pay. It’s the person who owns your property, not the people who live there.

  2. Clint Ryberg // September 6, 2007 at 4:40 pm // Reply

    I do not think most people understand what it takes to build anything in California. I have built 2 new homes since 2003. It is horribly expensive. Not the contractors or workers but the fees and building permits. The fees from my last house, which included utilities, fees, enviromental reports, etc… exceeded 30 thousand. In some areas of our great country this would pay for half of a new home.
    This judge is out of line, should be recalled and removed.
    If you people think this sentence is ok, then you belong in a communist/socialist country. Our government has no right to tell us we can or can not build a fence. Permitted or not.
    What the hell has our country become. We let murders, sexual predators, and any convicted felon, walk the street. This ass of a judge wants a man, who by the way is paying over 5 grand a year in property taxes, jailed for putting up a vynil fence.
    Damn, to bad our prisons are not made of vynil bars. Then , maybe, the criminals would stay in prison.
    By the way, I pay more property taxes than Warren Buffet pays on his California home, and he does not live here. That pisses me off. I have to rely on wirless internet, because California is the worst, in connectivity.
    Recall this judge and put her in her place. We, as Americans, can not be bullied by our government.
    A local government bully? Stop it now. Demand her resignation

  3. “This land is your land, this land is my land, from California, to the Gulf stream waters”, this land was made for you and me. Everybody sing!

  4. I am sure many of you don’t realize just how much work goes into getting voluntary compliance from these violators.
    If there was no penalty for these actions, society would run amuck with contractors ignoring official orders, property owners failing to maintain there property, streets closed to residents, the list goes on and on, yes it was just a fence but the reality is he legally was ordered to remove the fence, he failed to do so, not only did he ignore the orders he ignore the judge and failed to comply with something he agreed to he could have avoided this he chose his path.

  5. I don’t know personally the details of who did what, but certainly can side with linares who requested the city diminish the termite infested fencing – they refused. face it, he was trying to protect his house from unnecessary destruction and the city acted like a bad neighbor. I fully understand if the city couldn’t allocate funds but should have extended a helping hand and should have made the mutually beneficial move to allow him to replace it to a standard they could agree with. the city seems to have failed first.

  6. Sherri Allmer // September 4, 2007 at 1:25 pm // Reply

    Obviously some of you have not gotten the whole story or been at the mercy of a city building inspector that hasn’t had his “Wheaties” that day. They can be malicious and relentless. This man was told to take care of this termite infested fence himself even though it belongs to the city. That should have been his permit. He has replaced the fence at his own expense in exactly the same spot as the old fence. Seems to me that the city is looking for revenue anywhere they can. Looks like they spent all of their extra cash on a judge.

  7. The underlying problem is that most people do not know the difference between ownership and possession. Real estate is not owned; it is possessed. Land is not really property, any more than air is property. It is a natural resource.
    When you hold a land title, you have a contract with the state that the state’s violent force will be used to protect your possession of the land. This is essentially similar to a protection racket with the Mafia.
    The state will then use its guns to see that you continue possession of the land – until somebody comes along with even bigger guns, when you are likely to lose possession.
    Until that happens, you can enjoy monopolizing access to “your” land. The state will keep others from using it. Maybe someday there will be a way to similarly restrict access to the atmosphere, and you will then pay to breathe. You may be able to prevent others from breathing “your” air, and you will hold a title to “your” oxygen.
    So enjoy holding your land title. It derives from some earlier title. Trace the chain all the way back to the beginning and you will usually find force or fraud. No surprise therefore if someday you lose possession by force or fraud.
    In the case of this guy with his illegal fence, I think both the City and he are wrong. If I lived in Rolling Hills I might just go in with a chainsaw and a sledgehammer and demolish his fence to force a resolution of the issue. If I have no “right” to demolish it, does he have a “right” to build it? Where does this alleged “right” come from? Anything except force and fraud?

  8. Brenda Dickson // September 4, 2007 at 10:10 am // Reply

    Maybe sometimes the law isn’t right! We live on agricultural land (143 acres) and there is a trailer house that has been here for more than 40 years. It is used as storage. The great JD Southers, who became a bush appointed federal prosecutor and is now the AG of colorado, told my husband and his father he “didn’t give a s**t what the law said” he was telling them what he wanted them to do. BY LAW the trailer house does not have to be removed.
    Then there is my father in law that is putting siding on his house himself, the house is over 100 years old and not in a covenant. The city sent him a letter saying they were going to fine him if he did not get a permit or remove the materials. There is no permit for siding!

  9. Do a DUI, spend less than a day in jail. Be caught with crack, spend less than a day in jail. Build an illegal fence, spend 6 months in jail. Yeah that’s poetic justice.

  10. I moved to California from Iowa and my friends told me that California was full of wackos. The judge just proved them to be right.

  11. The judge is right, Linares is wrong, and people who think otherwise are ignorant.

  12. I’ve got problems with this story. If the fence is on the city owned bridal path why did they not tear it down as they stated they would do in the letter, bill Linares and be done with it? The article implies it is a city fence since he first asked them to replace it. Why did Linares agree to obtain the permit and then not do so? Was it his fault? Why did he say “or be willing to go to jail”? Bad move on his part. We don’t really know the facts from the article. The main point here is don’t tick off the guy with the big stick – the judge. It’s a sad truth of human affairs that it so often comes down to power.

  13. The judge is wrong to send him to jail. Putting a man into our already crowded jails over this is ridiculous! People who drive under the influence are given a few hours in jail… and he gets time for fixing a fence. Shame on the city for being a bully!

  14. No, he would be jailed for his cavalier and obstinate attitude. He has had many, many opportunities to be a decent neighbor. I give only so much pity to a man in his plight. There are real problems to worry about in this world.

  15. The man failed to bow to the King and get permission. ( permit).
    Thats the truth of it.
    All bow to the King.
    It’s worse than before the American revolution.
    This Nation has no value anylonger.

  16. The goofy little HOA ($140 a year) in my neighborhood sued to force a guy to take down beautiful picket fence in his front yard at the entry to the neighborhood. Looked better than anything else on the street. He put his house on the market and got the hell out.
    Now they’re going after a guy who bought an REO with a pool that had been an empty eyesore for 3 years. His insurance company demanded that he put up a 6 foot fence around the yard and pool — makes sense to me — but that’s a “violation” of the rules established by the little old ladies who run the HOA. He ignored them; now they’re levying fines so they can foreclose.
    Sheesh!

  17. Torrance homeowner // August 31, 2007 at 4:48 pm // Reply

    Defender of open space
    Go to abc7.com. Click Popular videos. See how he “closed” the trail.
    Unbelievable how stories get stretched through the grape vine.

  18. Defender of open space // August 31, 2007 at 2:49 pm // Reply

    This is very common in horse areas where a family drives through and is taken by the magical feeling of open space and horse trails and the commonwealth of outdoor living. Then, after the house is purchased the homeowner becomes annoyed at people passing by his property and does everything possible to limit access to those trails that attracted him there in the first place. Unless these people are prosecuted, all trails would eventually be absorbed by the adjoining property owners and their creeping fences.

  19. Torrance homeowner // August 31, 2007 at 12:44 pm // Reply

    Mr. Linares had permits for all of his construction. The city revoked them saying the applications were incomplete. He re-submitted them and the city ignored them to say he had no permits. What we have here is some vicious neighbors with connections in a corrupt city government.
    What do you think the neighbor-compatability issue is about?
    One said neighbor is encroaching on city property (easement), and the city ignores him because of their “amicableness”. Pathetic.
    At least this case sheds some light into the corruption of RHE.
    Everything happens for a reason.

  20. Conservative Professor // August 31, 2007 at 6:35 am // Reply

    Mr. Linares broke a law, but oftentimes laws — especially zoning regulations — are specious at best. They fit 80 percent of situations, but not ALL situations. The REAL problem here is that judges are no longer permitted to “judge.” County/city officials are not allowed to excercise judgment based on specific situations. They are no longer allowed to take special circumstances into consideration. There is no discretion exercised in the Court Room these days, and all evidence points toward this trend continuing to get worse. No doubt, we are where we are because public officials abused their right to exercise judgment in the past, but that does not mean that either approach to justice is correct.

  21. OK, so it’s been decided? If you want people in this country to learn English you are offically racist? I try to keep up, but I missed that. OK, I guess I’m racist. I’ll mediate on that and thank you for your input.

  22. anotherway or justanotherracist?

  23. There’s a guy who rented a private road next to his house and tore
    up the road and extended his fence to close off access to a county
    horse trail in La Canada. Many people complained to the city and the
    city issued two stop work orders which this person ignored but at
    least 3 feet of space to access the trail while the city wanted 10-15
    feet. The city has taken him to court and its lasted 3 years now.
    Perhaps he should be facing some jail time.

  24. So Shiela, I can’t complain about a neighbor who closes a legal trail that has been used for decades by the community, and to whom I can’t even discuss it because he won’t speak the language of the land, and yet you can slam everyone who wants to soak in a bathtub or have a little luxury in their lives (from previous comments). You are welcome to your opinions, but please, allow the rest of us a tiny ounce of breathing room to have ours.

  25. good lord, “AnotherWay,” you have no idea of the immigration status of this person, not to mention the blocking of the horse trail near you was totally unrelated to the race or language skills of your new neighbors, and your speculation on cock-fighting is paranoid and specious, so please keep your racist ignorance out of a remodeling blog! if there is a law against roosters then call the cops. if there is not, then guess what? these people ARE following the laws of this country, so maybe you are the one who needs to get out?
    as for the ACTUAL topic of this story, i agree that permitting rules may be in place for a reason, but i believe that the punishment is both inappropriate and ineffectual. if he is creating a hazard, then the correct process is for the locality to mitigate the hazard and put a lien on his home and income to pay it off. this is how brush-clearing is handled, and works just fine. if he has just disregarded the law, then a fine/penalty scheme and/or probation with a right of expungement is far more appropriate than 6 months’ incarceration with no chance of probation. that is truly draconian and does nothing to solve the problem. the retaining wall, horse trail, columns, etc. are still there, and the guy is getting beat up in jail. what a complete waste, all around.

  26. If Mr. Linares has encroached with his fence onto a municipal horse trail making it now impossible for city maintenance crews to access it, the city should bulldoze the fence immediately.
    This reminds me of a horse trail near my house that was blocked off immediately after a Mexican family bought the property adjacent to it. I got a copy of the original subdivision that clearly called for a community horse trial, so I complained to the county. (I am in an unincorporated area.) The county said that it was a private subdivision (that was news to me) and it was a civil matter and I’d have to hire an attorney and sue. I let it go.
    What really irks me is that these people do not speak English and brought in a bunch of roosters who incessant crowing upsets the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. Have you ever heard 20 or 30 roosters doing ‘the wave”? I believe they may be fighting roosters and the neighbor didn’t want us horseback riders getting too close to his operation.
    So my comment is: If you don’t want to follow the laws of this country, don’t come here.

  27. Property rights have nothing to do with Mr. Linares’ problem. Mr. Linares has shown contempt for our legal system, behaving as if the rules don’t apply to him.
    The judge gave him numerous chances to make things right, and he dragged his heels the whole way. The issue isn’t his fence, it’s his waste of the court’s time (and our money).
    If he had spent a fraction of that time building his fence to spec, he wouldn’t be in this predicament.
    He’s a victim, alright, of his own hard-headed self-righteousness.
    Communites have every right to enforce their own local standards, and to turn to the court when it becomes necessary.

  28. What the hell is wrong with some of you people? take a step back and think about what you’re writing before you commit it to a blog. this guy built a wall without permission. yes, he went against the law and deserves some form of punishment but 6 months in jail? our jails are overcrowded and how often do we hear that somebody who really deserves time inside escapes for the simple reason that there isnt sufficient room? isnt it more important for all you do-gooders saying society wont tolerate illegal wall builders that we get some sort of priority in place? you’ll all be complaining on another blog fairly soon that the prison system is over-crowded and real criminals are walking or (as someone rightly points out) drunken driving our streets.

  29. It's not the fence // August 30, 2007 at 4:19 pm // Reply

    The journalism here could have been improved. The sentence wasn’t for building a fence. It was for ignoring a court order, which he agreed to. He knew that he would land in jail if he ignored the court order. He agreed to be tossed in jail if he ignored the court order. That’s the end of it.
    The law does not say “build a fence and we’ll throw you in jail.” The law says “ignore a court order, repeatedly, flagrantly, and contemptuously, and then the court will throw you in jail if that’s what’s needed to teach you to obey a court order.” We can like or dislike the law about fences, but he’s bound to follow it, like it or not, until it gets changed.
    It’s like saying that somebody got put in jail for exercising their right to own firearms—except the story wouldn’t mention until the end that the right to own firearms was being exercised in a courthouse. It’d be sloppy journalism to just put the first part of the sentence in the lede and bury the second part.

  30. Anyone who has ever been even remotely involved in a court preceeding would know that (IN MY OPINION) there really is no juctice. The better attorney WINS!!!! I feel for this man, resident, tax payerm citizen. And that he pled “no contest” is refreshing!!!!! Most killers, rapists, tax evaders, unscrupious ex-husbands/wifes that lie to no end (sorry, alledged), plead NOT GUILTY. Now, where the real crime and where’s the real justice????
    One does not “promise” to follow the orders, it IS LAYED out!!!! So, be honest and tell the truth? And, hire an expensive attorney, to communicate your case? OR do as the masses, and plead not guilty!!! Waist tax payers money, waist time (a lot of time) and “USE” the system. Now, that’s American alright!!!
    It might not be better elsewhere then here in the U.SA. BUT, nontheless, it IS a reality!!!! Some get away with “murder” and others are victims of our “legal system.”
    I commend you for reporting on this. It is news worthy!!!! And yes, there was harm done…to this homeowner whom I’m sure spent well over a year LIVING this court battle !!! NOW he has a rap sheet. How sad!

  31. Bob, I went ahead and posted your comment as your opinion is valid. But there’s no real need to disparage people with differing opinions. Name calling is not welcome here, but wide-ranging, intelligent thoughts and opinions are most desired!
    Also, I’d like to point out that the infractions do not just concern this fence, but a potentially hazardous retaining wall and concrete columns. I only wish I had photos of those items as well. But all those miss the real point, which is following existing laws of the community or working to change them.

  32. America truly has become as ugly a county and people as the majority of those outside it’s border believe it to be. Six months for no permits on a fence I could kick down with my foot and scum and losers posting here try to justify the sentence.

  33. RuskinRaider // August 30, 2007 at 3:13 pm // Reply

    Maybe he should consider moving to my city — Alhambra.
    Like most cities, residents here are required to go through the usual permit & approval process bysubmitting plans for any type of construction, addition, or remodeling project. Recently, when one resident wanted to build a Mcmansion on a postage stamp lot, city officials said that he must maintain continuity with the surrounding homes — a collection of late-1920’s -30’s modest Spanish/Tudor-styled homes. The owner later came back with plans showing how he was going to simply add-on and not compromise the integrity of his historic 1926 Spanish-style home.
    Neighbors were aghast to discover that in the course of one day, he had managed to completely gut the entire home down to its skeletal, stud frame. The home had completely disappeared.
    Our city response? “Oh well.”

  34. If Linares did indeed build his fence so it encroached on an existing public horse trail, as the article states then he IS wrong and should move the fence or accept the consequnces of breaking the law PERIOD. It’s no different than if your neighbor build a fence right down the middle of your driveway or a fence down the middle of a public sidewalk. Let’s hears some more facts before we all go getting all self-righteous.

  35. Alan Hambra // August 30, 2007 at 2:09 pm // Reply

    I may be thinking that six months in jail is deserved. We live in a society where laws are to be followed, that’s why we have them, he was first written up over two years ago and new full well what was coming:
    “When he had appeared before the court in January, he pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor charges, and the city agreed to drop six others. He also promised to either get final permits for the fence and other offending structures or tear them down.
    And if he didn’t follow through? He agreed to go to jail if the judge so ordered.”
    He was given ample warning and sufficient time to comply. He also had the time and money to hire 3 lawyers so why didn’t he just comply with the city’s orders? Should he be able to flagrantly disregard these laws? Does he feel entitled to do as he pleases? Had he treated the situation seriously, he wouldn’t be spending anytime in jail at all.

  36. ” DUI drivers get hours in jail, but he gets six months for building a wall? Yeah…that makes sense. ” Yep, he committed the much more serious crime of upsetting a bureaucracy. Public safety is, today, a myth.Pay and bennies come first, then paperwork, then egos. Keeping us safe comes last.

  37. The guy only tore down and rebuilt a municipal fence after the city wouldn’t fix their own structure. at his own expense. Rolling Hills Estates is likely irked because they couldn’t spend some $2million or so, of tax money, to give some contractor chrony the job. Oh the ploy!
    Linares should sell out and get out. take his money and dreams somewhere where he’s appreciated. and hope that GOD sees the plight and lets Rolling Hills Estates, well, roll right off into the Pacific.

  38. Based on an interview I heard with Linares on the radio, he did indeed file for the permits, but the city hasn’t gotten them to him. 6 months in jail for this? DUI drivers get hours in jail, but he gets six months for building a wall? Yeah…that makes sense.

  39. Concrete columns and a retaining wall? Perhaps this is a dangerous situation. A licensed engineer should be consulted prior to construction and, a thorough inspection performed of the finished project. This is especially important in an area, such as RHE, that has steep hillsides and an unstable geology. If I were living near or below Mr. Linares, I would be the first one to call the city if I new that the appropriate approval process was being circumvented. Mr. Linares was duly warned and should be punished. If you want to be able to do anything you want to your house or property without concern for you neighbors or communities safety or property values, move to an unincorporated county area. Then, you can live with the broken down cars, backyard dumps, brown lawns, noise and potentially inconsiderate, anarchist neighbors.

  40. neighbor in adjacent area // August 29, 2007 at 8:23 pm // Reply

    For those bitter people in Rolling Hills Estates who want to nail Linare to the cross for such a non-life threatening, unobtrusive thing as a fence…you need to get a life, smell the roses and take an anger management class. You would be better served with raising your compliants about having to comply with RHE that are unreasonable rather than play pile on.
    It appears the larger issue is the confusing, controlling, up-for-interpretation regulations that the good folks at Rolling Hills Estates continue to perpectuate. They should make the regs easier to follow, more reasonable to implement and maintain and have better communication with their citizens rather than punish them.
    As for Mr. Linare – hang in there. My hope for you is justice will prevail.
    As for Judge Thompson – apparently she has common sense and given that she rules on a 6 month prison term to a decent guy who’s intent was to improve his property, hasn’t hurt anyone and tried working with the local authorities – maybe she needs a vacation. Sounds like her judgement is really impaired.

  41. This is a travesty of “justice” and imposing a sentence such as this for anything so petty and failing to impose longer sentences on people who are actually convicted of crimes, give this an appearance of a judge going a great deal too far.
    It makes the city look ridiculous and the judge appear to be motivated by more than just adhering to the local zoning or permit laws.
    I wonder just how equal the law is and if other property owners are being treated the same.

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