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Court upholds $573,000 penalty against East Sacramento homeowner who worked on cars in his yard


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Posted (edited)

An East Sacramento homeowner this month lost his effort to challenge city code violations that piled up to $573,000 when a state appeals ruled the city acted properly in his case.

 

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/court-upholds-dollar573000-penalty-against-east-sacramento-homeowner-who-worked-on-cars-in-yard/ar-AAXSJA4?ocid=mailsignout&li=BBnb7Kz&cvid=8e3d249451e6445997154dab82168c3f#image=1

Edited by Crusty Trucker (see edit history)
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  • Crusty Trucker changed the title to Court upholds $573,000 penalty against East Sacramento homeowner who worked on cars in his yard

This really shows how the priorities of law enforcement and town bureaucrats has become twisted and bizarre.  

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The fines seem excessive but it sounds like he ignored them for a long time, had a pile of derelict cars in his back yard, and only cried foul when the penalties finally got out of hand. That's kind of the point of penalties and interest, no?

 

This isn't some poor, earnest hobbyist working on a Model A in the driveway, it's a hoarder keeping a pile of trash in his yard and ignoring the reasonable attempts by the city to deal with him until it got so serious he couldn't ignore it any longer. I guarantee it was affecting his neighbors and their property values and people do take that pretty seriously. Having lived next to a hoarder (I foolishly bought in the winter when all their crap was hidden by snow) I can tell you first-hand that it is VERY hard to sell a house with something like that going on next door.

 

Also note that this isn't a slippery slope to The Man coming after our hobby cars that we occasionally work on in the driveway (unless, of course, all your hobby cars are in pieces and stored scattered throughout your yard).

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37 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

The fines seem excessive but it sounds like he ignored them for a long time, had a pile of derelict cars in his back yard, and only cried foul when the penalties finally got out of hand. That's kind of the point of penalties and interest, no?

 

This isn't some poor, earnest hobbyist working on a Model A in the driveway, it's a hoarder keeping a pile of trash in his yard and ignoring the reasonable attempts by the city to deal with him until it got so serious he couldn't ignore it any longer. I guarantee it was affecting his neighbors and their property values and people do take that pretty seriously. Having lived next to a hoarder (I foolishly bought in the winter when all their crap was hidden by snow) I can tell you first-hand that it is VERY hard to sell a house with something like that going on next door.

 

Also note that this isn't a slippery slope to The Man coming after our hobby cars that we occasionally work on in the driveway (unless, of course, all your hobby cars are in pieces and stored scattered throughout your yard).

Very well said.  I have three collector cars and I live in a subdivision.  I am VERY sensitive to the visuals and sounds around my neighbors.  No car is ever left out, all are garaged.  I don’t start grinding and running an air compressor after normal hours.

I’ve always felt there is a fine line between an antique car collector and a hording hillbilly.

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I have a fairly large lot in a village. Eight other properties border on mine and over the past 40 years a lot of my activity with cars has gone unnoticed, intentionally.

 

When I saw the first mention of the story I noticed the guy was a retired engineer. To me that meant trouble from the start.

 

A code enforcement officer and an engineer walked into a bar.......

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

This isn't some poor, earnest hobbyist working on a Model A in the driveway, it's a hoarder keeping a pile of trash in his yard and ignoring the reasonable attempts by the city... 

affecting his neighbors and their property values...

 

A perfect summary of the situation.  No more need be said.

 

Isn't it great when one succinct summary concludes the matter?

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Posted (edited)

Well, I view it a little differently. A few twisted soul's might go as far as to say I am a bit of a  " hoarder ". God I hate that word. Wife works in Community Mental Health and Addictions, and has done many home visits on " Real " hoarders. She 100 % agrees my collection is a bit out of hand, but not even close to the threshold of hoarder. Yes quite a few parts cars, parts , project cars. No garbage at all, scrap in a neat pile until enough accumulates to make a trip worthwhile. Tires are currently a bit of a problem, covid shut down the once a year tire , old paint, household chemical etc drop off. I hope it starts up again soon. 

 I regularly advertise the parts cars and do a slow but steady earner in parts. Mostly Volvo 240's and Toyota's from the 70's , early 80's. Cars that 10 years ago were thought of as junk, but today considered to be of a lot of interest to the younger gen. of car guys. The buyers are always very thankful I have the parts they need. The wreckers crushed everything they had years ago. Canada is very expensive to ship to from a U.S. seller. I am very careful to have almost nothing in view to anyone , from any side. 

 Multi million $ properties all around me, a few have sold lately. O complaints from anyone and 0 impact on anyone's selling price. I am going to be up for sale later this week. I was slightly concerned about the car stuff. My agent told me that as long as a clause in the sales contract to either remove everything myself or have a clean up team do it at my cost there is 0 impact on sellabillity or the price we will get.

 Non car people throw the word Hoarder at anyone that lives differently than they do, One or two new cars in a garage. All repair and servicing farmed out. Close clipped lawn and a white picket fence. Anal to the core !!  Real car people think my yard is a adult playground.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Sounds like he is trying to claim sovereign citizen...............

 

Having been chairman of a planning board, conservation commission, historical commission, and several other town boards, I can tell you how things work. The town or city will take their time, establish a timeline over months and years all the while getting judgments or determinations of unlawful behavior AND lack of response. They get to court with a file of paperwork looking very reasonable........and they win.

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The final decision is on line (But I cant link it right now)

1. He seems to have been fighting the city without a lawyer

2. He has based his appeals and other pleadings on spurious claims ("It's unconstitutional!")

3. He lost on a DEFAULT judgement (meaning that he didn't show up in court) 

Add it up, and you lose!

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I'm not surprised or shocked by the fine $573,000 code violation and interest on unpaid fines. I have a brother that is a hoarder, with money, so every month he pays his city fines for the rotting storage shed in his yard and every few months during the summer he pays the city another hundred and some dollars for cutting his grass when it gets over a foot high. Every couple of years I cut the trees away from his foundation and clean up his yard, he has a John Deer mower that is worth more than my daily driver and I would gladly cut his grass for half what the city charges him, but the mower is surrounded by cars that haven't run in years. No fines from the city on those rotting cars as he keeps the licenses current. 

 

The old saying is that you get all the justice that you can afford to buy and when a hoarder has the financial resources to pay all the fines and live like a pig, the law protects their rights to live in squalor, up until there is an emergency that grants access to the property. My guess is that the trash in this guys yard is nothing compared to what he has inside the house. I can't change my brother and I can't force him to invite me into his house, but a $573K fine would be enough to get my brother to clean up his place and sometimes change needs to be forced. 

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Sovreign citizen?  Law does not apply?  That gets absolutely no sympathy from me.  Not a bit.  

 

As a co worker used to say:  Go be crazy somewhere else and stop bothering me.  

 

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There is a lot more to this than what the subject line implies.

 

Sorry, but instead of working with the city he chose to go down the sovereign citizen path. According to the city’s statement, court filings show that Altstatt argued it “has not been proved … that any constitution operates on (him),” and that “since it has not been proved that any constitution operates on (him) then it follows that the legislature created under the power of said constitution does not operate on (him)” and that “since it has not been proved that any legislature operates on (him), then it follows that any/all codes/titles/statutes/rules and regulations promulgated by such legislature also cannot be proved to operate on (him).”

 

https://original.newsbreak.com/@robert-j-hansen-1587368/2578489612174-city-of-sacramento-calls-sac-bee-article-misleading-and-incomplete

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article261835755.html

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, SC38dls said:

We had over 5 acres and were allowed 1 horse per acre in the far west suburbs of Chicago. We had a visiting goat that loved to jump up on car hoods! I’m sure you can imagine the damage the hoofs of a goat can do to sheet metal.  The owner gladly paid the damages so her goat could run free. Another neighbor shot the goat  when it jumped on a brand new car and then jumped on to his sports car that was a corvette putting two holes in the hood. The goat owner still paid and didn’t learn her lesson as she bought another goat. 
dave s 

A securely fenced yard is an essential part of owning goats. I gave them their own Datsun pick up as a roost. They loved it. Favorite spot to sit all over on sunny days. The dominant female always got to sit on the roof. She would head butt any of the others that tried to " horn in " on her spot.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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27 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I want to know what the $573,000 was for. Was it a fine? Does it represent the cost of cleaning up the property? Are they trying to sell him his own house back?

Seven years ago, was when they first noticed and cited him, but it doesn't say when they started compounding the fines exactly. The daily fee is currently $250 per day so my guess is they've charged him for the last 2,292 days = $573k 

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9 minutes ago, 30DodgePanel said:

Seven years ago, was when they first noticed and cited him, but it doesn't say when they started compounding the fines exactly. The daily fee is currently $250 per day so my guess is they've charged him for the last 2,292 days = $573k 

Seems excessive. He could argue that the clock started running when the court handed down its decision, until then he did not know for sure that he was guilty of anything.

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He could (and I would agree) but guessing from other responses (who have played roles dealing with this sort of thing) I doubt they'll be willing to negotiate. 


As they say, power does funny things to people and when you get a few of them on the same team (from Little League baseball coaches on up) it goes to their heads. One only needs to look at this forum to see evidence of that. Excessive rules and attitude from moderators for petty stuff.


On top of all that, folks are easy to judge others now days. Besides, it's fun ;) (sarcasm). 

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The city will never lose. They will place a lien against the property……….they have been around a long time, and will be around a lot longer than the current homeowner. Usually they never act till the fines and fees are at least 150k. I have seen it with zoning, conservation issues, ect. If you fight city hall……..know the game and the rules. And they are stacked against you every which way you go.

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6 hours ago, edinmass said:

Sounds like he is trying to claim sovereign citizen...........

As hilarious as some of the claims from these guys is, it wastes a massive amount of money fighting with these guys

 

We have variations on the theme about how we’re part of the UK still 

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I’m amused at those that are defending this guy. 
 

He broke the law

He was given countless opportunities to address 

He chose not too


You sympathy toward him is misguided.  What about his neighbors?

 

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Posted (edited)

My only beef is that  people who have several cars sitting outside invariably get stuck with the hoarder label. I would be truly crazy to keep my parts cars in a shop. The cost of a square foot of dry, covered space around here is truly out of this world. But I am very careful not to have anything in sight of the neighbors. 

 Without parts cars very few old cars would make it to the antique car stage of existence. Some people with old cars in their yard are hoarders. But many are not. Non old car people can rarely tell the difference and tar everyone with the same brush. 

 In a perfect world I would have everything under cover. But in this part of the world any largish building will run a truly huge sum. Any commercial building of say 10,000 square feet or so is several million dollars minimum,  regardless of age or condition. Look it up, the prices will knock your socks off.  How else can an average person be involved with old cars etc without at least some outside storage in this circumstance?

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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13 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I'm not saying he is right, I am saying the fine seems excessive. What do they hope to accomplish? Do they want him to clean up his property or are they trying to steal it?

I get your point. I dont think anyone wants to make this guy cough up $600k over this.  He was his own worst enemy here. Read the news article, he was given 7 years and countless opportunities to rectify the situation. He CHOSE not too.. 

 

I also bet that the city will radically lower the fine if he just follows the law.

 

"Sacramento said it offered solutions to Altstatt to remedy the violations on his property however he did not accept the offers nor did Altstatt appeal the violation.".

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21 minutes ago, 1912Staver said:

My only beef is that  people who have several cars sitting outside invariably get stuck with the hoarder label. I would be truly crazy to keep my parts cars in a shop. The cost of a square foot of dry, covered space around here is truly out of this world. But I am very careful not to have anything in sight of the neighbors. 

 Without parts cars very few old cars would make it to the antique car stage of existence. Some people with old cars in their yard are hoarders. But many are not. Non old car people can rarely tell the difference and tar everyone with the same brush. 

 In a perfect world I would have everything under cover. But in this part of the world any largish building will run a truly huge sum. Any commercial building of say 10,000 square feet or so is several million dollars minimum,  regardless of age or condition. Look it up, the prices will knock your socks off.  How else can an average person be involved with old cars etc without at least some outside storage in this circumstance?

 

You miss the point.

Lots of people have an ungodly number of cars on their property. (Hoarders or not). Those in rural locations, or those who go through the trouble of fencing them off, dont much have an issue like this.

The difference here is he is in a residential neighborhood and there are laws he must follow.   

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50 minutes ago, edinmass said:

The city will never lose. They will place a lien against the property……….they have been around a long time, and will be around a lot longer than the current homeowner. Usually they never act till the fines and fees are at least 150k. I have seen it with zoning, conservation issues, ect. If you fight city hall……..know the game and the rules. And they are stacked against you every which way you go.

That’s the way our town of dartmouth has always been, they never lose. When you dig into the workings of the town (my family owned a business) you find many things were not done by fair rules or laws but by people with power that simply get their way, no matter what. A few years back they tried it again by trying to push through two 100meter hub height wind turbines. They produced a pamphlet with specifications and how the project was a harmless and perfect fit for the neighborhood and in that pamphlet they printed engineer’s formulas, names, and reputations. The problem was the numbers didn’t add up for me when I read that pamphlet but did for all the rest of the town and they simply accepted it. I personally contacted two of those engineers listed and it turns out the town lied, had changed the engineer’s citing formula, and even published the bogus formula in their pamphlet. Once the engineer realized what the town had done, he threatened to sue them, supplied our group fighting the project will true data, real people from across the world who supplied us more critical data, and continuously sent articles to our local newspaper calling out the town. I actually received two threats in my mailbox, got told six times by other town officials to watch my back, got commended for my efforts but told “Dartmouth never loses!”, plus got harassed by the towns BOH and building department on a couple projects I had going on at the time. When it was all said and done, no turbines went up due to our efforts but it was mainly my investigation of the towns deceit. When I read anything these days about city or towns efforts against someone, I don’t rush to judgement based on what’s written or published by the media as I’ve seen and learned it first hand, many times there’s more to the story.

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Posted (edited)

I thought the internet would be awash with photos of this derelict property but a search only shows a couple images of the elderly owner. 

So I decided to take a Google Maps look at the property myself.  Satellite image doesn't appear to show a backyard overflowing with debris and the street view shows a house in very similar condition to the surrounding homes, other than 3 Dodge vans parked in the drive.  I expected this to look much, much worse.  If I was traveling past, I wouldn't have given this place a second glance.

Note:  Google time stamp shows photo is from December 2020.

 

20220531_172833.jpg.816bb148028a38cbd121710279ec631e.jpg20220531_172935.jpg.b53613adfbe1e5fa0b4150369fbd6c73.jpg

Edited by GregLaR (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, Peter Gariepy said:

 

You miss the point.

Lots of people have an ungodly number of cars on their property. (Hoarders or not). Those in rural locations, or those who go through the trouble of fencing them off, dont much have an issue like this.

The difference here is he is in a residential neighborhood and there are laws he must follow.   

Peter, I would respectfully say that you are missing my point. Once the general public catches the notion that people with old cars are hoarders then the label is used wholesale. Several of the car accumulations that have been discussed on the forum over the years have been in quite rural surroundings. The label of hoarder , even from forum members/ supposed old car people. and the problems with civic / state / county authorities are a very common component. Some people think an old car Has to be all shiny and fettled in a garage so to not be an embarrassment  to the true old car people. You know, the ones with great trucks , new trailers and very, very, shiny , restored cars. Not all of us are members of that club.

 Some of us get by with 40 year old trucks and 45 year old trailers and decades of penny pinching to mess around with old iron. I can't even imagine what it would be like to own a restored car, truly mind boggling.  But I have been up to my ears in old cars for nearly 50 years now.

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, 1912Staver said:

Peter, I would respectfully say that you are missing my point.

I do agree. The term hoarder has a negative connotation. Maybe it shouldn’t. 
 

joke: “ what’s the difference between a hoarder and a collector? Money“

 

 In this very specific targeted instant The city has given him seven years worth of opportunities to find some compromise or at least require him to bend a bit to appease his neighbors. He’s chosen not to multiple times. A lot of people seem to be labeling the city of some sort of money grabbing government entity. I don’t think that’s the case, I think they’re just simply done with this guy and all of his antics. 

 

We can all learn from this. Simply do our best to abide by the local ordinances related to how we store our cars. Show respect to your city and to your neighbors and try not to turn  our yards into an eyesore. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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Trust me this guy had to ticked off somebody at the city.  Maybe a neighbor works for the city, county or state. There has to be more to this story. I learned along time ago you do what the city, county or state says. I have to go to the city for permits monthly & they can make your life miserable unless you do as they say. It's not right but that's the way it is.

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1 hour ago, Peter Gariepy said:

joke: “ what’s the difference between a hoarder and a collector? Money“

With all due respect, but I don’t get this “joke”.

I know and have known a lot of wealthy individuals, some very wealthy, who are/were “hoarders” and some even think/thought of themselves “collectors” of various things they hoard(ed). 
Some have even made efforts to call or establish their hoardings as museums (mostly for tax sheltering reasons, etc)

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13 hours ago, Peter Gariepy said:

Come on guys!

Stay on topic!

Goats and shoplifting have NOTHING to do with this.

I apologize for my post.  Went back to delete it but you’d already done so, thanks….

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11 hours ago, chistech said:

That’s the way our town of dartmouth has always been, they never lose. When you dig into the workings of the town (my family owned a business) you find many things were not done by fair rules or laws but by people with power that simply get their way, no matter what. A few years back they tried it again by trying to push through two 100meter hub height wind turbines. They produced a pamphlet with specifications and how the project was a harmless and perfect fit for the neighborhood and in that pamphlet they printed engineer’s formulas, names, and reputations. The problem was the numbers didn’t add up for me when I read that pamphlet but did for all the rest of the town and they simply accepted it. I personally contacted two of those engineers listed and it turns out the town lied, had changed the engineer’s citing formula, and even published the bogus formula in their pamphlet. Once the engineer realized what the town had done, he threatened to sue them, supplied our group fighting the project will true data, real people from across the world who supplied us more critical data, and continuously sent articles to our local newspaper calling out the town. I actually received two threats in my mailbox, got told six times by other town officials to watch my back, got commended for my efforts but told “Dartmouth never loses!”, plus got harassed by the towns BOH and building department on a couple projects I had going on at the time. When it was all said and done, no turbines went up due to our efforts but it was mainly my investigation of the towns deceit. When I read anything these days about city or towns efforts against someone, I don’t rush to judgement based on what’s written or published by the media as I’ve seen and learned it first hand, many times there’s more to the story.

 

There are several ways cities pull things over on the property owners........most famous one........just do anything to get the rule on the books.....even if the exact results are no where near what they want. Then you go back at the next meeting and submit changes to bylaws in writing, accept them as a mail item.(No discussion.) When put in the notice of the newspaper you post.........and remember it's all mixed in with a bunch of other stuff like zone changes, budget items, special meetings, ect..........the notice reads Sec. 16 Paragraph A Sub section 3, verbiage update. What is it really? Changing your setback from the rear lot from five feet to twenty five. Also, "chart" and definition change. Happens ALL the time. 

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9 hours ago, BucketofBolts said:

Another example of the local government enforcing their power on some unfortunate homeowner.  Sadly this poor soul may end up homeless once the City gets their hands on his property.

The only thing that is unfortunate is he CHOSE to ignore/flaunt the local ordinances and had multiple opportunities to rectify the situation.  Meanwhile, his neighbors had to look at this mess for years, plus deal with a rat infestation!  If he ends up in an apartment, so be it.  

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12 minutes ago, Jim Skelly said:

The only thing that is unfortunate is he CHOSE to ignore/flaunt the local ordinances and had multiple opportunities to rectify the situation.  Meanwhile, his neighbors had to look at this mess for years, plus deal with a rat infestation!  If he ends up in an apartment, so be it.  

 

Agreed. These wounds are 100% self-inflicted.

 

It sounds like the city is willing to work with him and probably won't go to the wall to collect 100% of the fine if he starts acting rational and makes some effort to remediate the situation. All he has to do is reach out and cooperate with them.


Degree of difficulty: he's a sovereign citizen kook.

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