How the Law Caught Up With a Marin County Visionary

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“David Hoffman is not your typical outlaw. For one, every conversation veers toward the inevitable topics of conservation and sustainability. He can’t understand why people need things like septic tanks – or why they use perfectly good drinking water to wash their cars.

It’s not Hoffman’s ideas that got him into trouble. It was the execution. Forty years of it.

Four decades ago, Hoffman started some home improvements on his house in the wooded hills of the Marin County town of Lagunitas. He harbored ideas and theories of how people could live more sustainably. He started building.

But Hoffman’s vision had one very fatal flaw. He never got permits for any of his projects. For over two decades, county officials red-tagged his buildings. But Hoffman carried on.

But county officials didn’t see it that way. His fines have run up to over $200,000, and he’s been ordered to tear down all 30 of his illegal structures by August 1.”

Read the entire article at the source: NBC Bay Area
Research “nuisance abatement teams” to see the direction things are headed. Many county budgets are in trouble and so teams of enforcers are ticketing and fining people over petty things to make up the difference. See Battle for the California Desert

23 thoughts on “How the Law Caught Up With a Marin County Visionary”

  1. The 2nd ammendment is what suppose to stop this sort of thing. But, it is useless when 90% of your fellow citizens agree with the government.
    The second leg of this economic crash is coming fairly soon. I’m hoping for a complete collapse. I mean, the dollar goes bye bye. It is the end result of Soviet style governing. I view it as an opportunity for freedom, but it could turn out worse.

  2. As I understand it, they can not challenge a Land Patent in court as it would essentially throw the entire real estate division and ownership process in the garbage, at least for the Western countries. All the governments of the West derive their authority to their lands from through this process.

    For example, the US negotiated for and owns the federal lands through their treaties with the western territories in return for admission to the Union, or through purchase ( Alaska and also the Louisiana Purchase )or treaties with the King of England, who got those rights from the Pope, who got his rights from God(that’s the founding of the legal system, regardless of whether one believes in a god or not).

    That’s why they speak Portuguese in Brazil, while they speak Spanish in the rest of South America, and this carries across to other spheres of the earth. The Pope divided the entire earth, if you will, which may seem ridiculous these days, but that’s what it all goes back to, and it was all recorded and administered with land patents(deeds) which presumably can all be traced back to the Vatican.

    Below is the government site that deals with land patents.

    If I can find some land to which I can hold a secure title through a Land Patent, which would keep me from being hassled about building with earth, I’ll stay here and build. If not, I’ll probably move to Asia or South America. I’ve lived in the EU and the US my whole life and I’d love to see Asia & SA. Bonus, both of those locations would have plenty of places for the owner/builder to do as he likes, since they’re a bit more free wheeling.

    • Your probably good to go once you have the land patent or allodial title. The government won’t hassle you. It’s just getting it that seems to be the problem. In some of your lesser populated counties it might be easier then if you tried in say California or New York. I would think that most assessors in high tax areas are aware of this ability and put some severe roadblocks in the way. Can you imagine the uproar if everyone in a single county got these titles or patents? Politicians would probably do their utmost to enact laws to prevent others from doing it.

  3. Here is a great article which explains property tax and the ways in which you can remove the property from the tax roles. There are three ways to lawfully opt out of property
    taxes: obtain allodial title, un-record your property,
    or have your real property re-classified as private. The link below goes into an easy to understand explanation of the choices and a step by step instructions on how to get an allodial title.

  4. It is refreshing to see comments, such as Nathaniel’s, indicating understanding and acknowledgement of true property rights. I bought and sold my last place with that knowledge (lived on it for 8 years). Now living in a travel trailer, basically a small apartment on wheels, and semi-nomadic for part of the year. The other is spent in the middle of the desert and ‘under the radar.’ Basically, in an area where codes are not enforced, and taxes are minimal ($35/year). The trade-off is that all of us have to be self-sufficient for our own survival needs. It is a trade-off I am quite happy with.

  5. Historically property taxes have been around since colonial times. During the 1800s most states went with a system that taxed land based on it’s value. Prior to that some states valued/taxed all land the same. During and after the great depression a few states exempted land that was held or used for special purposes. Owners who lived on their land were exempted. Those states used to have a special deed for the exempted property. Property taxes were also reduced during that period. There are currently no states which recognize those deeds anymore.

    Property taxes provided as much as 45% of state revenues in 1902. Because of income taxes by 1932 it had shifted and it was 85% of local government revenue. Today property tax at the local level is being replaced by federal/state aid.
    Property tax at the state level is only 1.8% of state revenues and about 45% of local government monies. Income tax, sales tax and other fees now make up the larger portion of money collected by government.

    North Dakota recently tried to eliminate property taxes thru a constitutional amendment but it was voted down by the public.

  6. Hello everyone.

    Perhaps someone who is tech savvy could start a petition on
    (I am not tech savvy, or I would do this…)

    Let Owen know you start the petition. He can post it here on this blog and then the rest of us can pass it on to other sites and blogs. AND WE CAN ALL GO SIGN IT!

    Those of you who do social media can spread this all the ways you do that.

    • Sadly, online petitions accomplish nothing. What we should do is harass the people responsible for this (their phone numbers are below) or start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaisn to raise the $200,000 Mr. Hoffman would need to pay the robbers. That would generate a ridiculous amount of buzz and we could channel those people into calling the responsible bureaucrats.

      • Do you think it is feasible that we could get 200,000 people to each donate a dollar? or something as simple as that?

        • There are sites like Kickerstarter and Kiva that could be used. The challenge is getting enough donations in a short time period.

  7. Call them up and give ’em a piece of your mind! They’re closed today of course, but I left a message for Bridgette Choate at (415) 473-2894

    We should leave many messages and continue to call during the week. Government bureaucracies are cowardly entities, and buckle in the face of public pressure. Here are the other people in the department and their numbers:

    Permitting and Permit Inquiries
    Bridgette Choate, CPT Building Permit Technician II (415) 473-2894
    Robert Schmidt Building Permit Technician II (415) 473-4339
    Plan Review and Code Inquiries
    Parviz Besharati, S.E. Associate Civil Engineer (415) 473-6963
    Khosrow Fallah, P.E. Associate Civil Engineer (415) 473-6565
    Steve Aslesen Building Inspector II (415) 473-6568
    David Brunhofer Building Inspector II (415) 473-4142
    Building Inspection Inquiries
    William “Tom” Tiller Building Inspector II (415) 473-6569
    Dana Ansari Building Inspector II (415) 473-3769
    Tanis Minto Building Inspector II (415) 473-6564
    Public and General Inquiries
    Marina Stanford Office Assistant III (415) 473-6561

    • Good idea. Thanks for doing this. Even 10 phones would likely have some effect. 20-30 could make a big difference. I think asking probing questions like “why are you doing this to such a nice guy” would really put them on the spot.

      • Totally agreed. I remarked that they have a mandatory green code and this guy has the greenest building in the whole county, but instead of taking ideas from him, they’re trying to ruin his life. I also mentioned how the entire goal of these permits is public safety, and there’s no evidence he’s impairing it.

        Of course we all know the real goal of permits is revenue collection for the local government but hopefully the bureaucrats will prefer the delusion that lets them sleep at night.

        • Many of these laws and regulations that are supposed to “protect us” make little or no sense. Challenging the bureaucrats with simple logic can back them into a corner pretty fast.

  8. this amazing destruction of people’s rights to the most basics in life, food, shelter. how can we support and helpand change this?

    • Property rights are the basis for a free society. We do not have that anymore. The government owns all property. You rent it.(North Dakota attempted to eliminate property taxes, and it was defeated easily. )

      Expect more of this type of thing in the future. Governments attract busy bodies and sociopaths. And then for some reason people continue to vote for them. I guess it’s because they approve of this sort of thing.

      • Absolutely correct. I’m glad this fact is becoming more widely understood. In essence, purchasing property is actually purchasing from its previous renter the right to rent it from the government. When I was looking through the documents on the Marin county’s web site, I came across a section explaining what all your fees pay for. The answer: paying the salaries of the people who inspect your building, approve the permit, and carry guns to threaten you with if you don’t get one or make a mistake.

        Essentially, we’re being taxed to support our own oppression. It’s downright Kafka-esque.

        • I was just reading the other day about how you can never legally own your land. If I remember correctly, you typically get a Warranty of Deed (guarantee) not an actual deed that is free and clear. Maybe some lawyers or real estate pros can chime in with the details.

          • Actually you need more than a Warranty Deed, Owen. What you’re looking for is a Land Patent, and it’s acquired thorough the BLM(Bureau of Land Management), which essentially makes you sovereign over that land, such that it may not be taken from you, or taxed, etc…

            You can get the details from the BLM web site I believe, though there are companies out there that will process the paperwork for you for a fee. Here’s one that will sell you the paperwork, though there’s no reason you can’t do your own legwork if you’re watching your pennies.


          • Great info! Haven’t seen that before. But maybe it’s too good to be true. What’s to keep a corrupt government (with enough guns) from forcibly declaring eminent domain or changing the laws in the future?

          • Owen, you’re absolutely right. Nothing at all prevents them from doing that. I just spent the better part of a day reading over all the links that have been posted in the comments section here, learning about allodial titles and land patents, and I have to say, I’m not convinced. It all relies on the notion of secret, forgotten, or poorly-understood laws that people don’t know about, but if they did know and properly asserted, that would somehow secure their freedom from government interference. The problem I have with this is that no document is self-enforcing. Even if everything claimed is 100% true, without judges willing to uphold these laws, asserting any rights they secure is fruitless. And many of those links feature stories where just that happens; corrupt judges ignore the law, misappropriate documents, etc.

            If your rights rely on judges employed by the entity from which you seek freedom in the first place, you’re basically up a creek. After all, what good is a law that secures your freedom, if you cannot find anyone willing to enforce it? Ultimately, all law is backed by men with guns who enforce them. In our societies, the state has carved out a monopoly on organized law-enforcing militias, alternately called police forces or armies. Attempting to appeal to the state’s legal system to secure your right to live free of the state’s interference is, on its face, an exercise in absurdity. They can just say, “no”, and then where does that put you?

          • That’s what I’m thinking. Same thing has happened in virtually every country with an out of control government seeking empire or whatever. This reminded me of the recent law or executive decree granting executive control over all resources and means of production in the US in the event of a crisis. This gives the gov power to declare martial law and control virtually everything == water, food, roads, jobs, etc. That would include taking people’s land for “the benefit of the larger society”. This all seems far out until you look at how the fed government is militarizing local police departments with military type gear, putting thousands of drones in US airspace, buying massive amounts of ammunition, etc. (all reported in mainstream news). It’s not just one little thing. It’s a disturbing trend that seems to have a nefarious big brother goal.

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