Gov’t to Steal Elderly Man’s House Over $573K They Fined Him for Working on Car in His Back Yard

Dan Alstatt is a retired 83-year-old from California who may spend the rest of his life “homeless and penniless” because government claims what you can and can’t do with your own property. Alstatt never harmed anyone, nor did he destroy or other wise harm anyone else’s property, but these facts are irrelevant to the state who claims Alstatt owes them $573,000 for using his private property the way he wanted.

Alstatt worked on old cars in his own yard and according to the city of Sacramento, this is illegal. When Alstatt disputed the city’s claim, the city then told Alstatt he owed them money. Now, Alstatt is worried that the state will come and seize his home because he cannot afford to pay the ridiculously high fines.

According to an article in the SacBee, Alstatt’s nightmare began in 2014 when he brought a van into his backyard to fix them — a code enforcement penalty — according to the local government.

He also had at least five other vehicles on the property, some of which he inherited when his brother died, he said. A neighbor complained, and the city cited him, claiming all the vehicles appeared to be inoperable. It also issued violations for other backyard items — car parts, generators, propane tanks and fruit that had fallen off his orange and grapefruit trees. Altstatt has since removed the inoperable vehicles and other items.

To be clear, none of the vehicles could be seen as they were in his back yard behind a privacy fence and the front of Alstatt’s home is well kept and maintained. Absolutely no one is being harmed or was ever harmed by Alstatt working on vehicles but the state still pursued the case.

Despite the fact that Alstatt has since removed all the “violations,” the city still claims he owes them over a half million dollars. He appealed their fines but lost that appeal this month.

Alstatt argued that the fines totaling over a half million dollars were “excessive” and violate his Eighth Amendment right to be free from “excessive fines imposed.” The city claimed that Alstatt’s accusations of excessive fines for working on vehicles in his own back yard were “unfounded and unsupported.”

Alstatt also accused the city of using code enforcement as a predatory means to collect revenue which will render him “homeless and penniless.” The city also claimed this was unfounded.

Imagine the type of mental gymnastics it takes for a city code enforcer to think that fining a retiree $573,000 for working on a van in his back yard is not “excessive” or “predatory.”

Nevertheless, the court took Alstatt’s claims, threw them out, and used them as an opportunity to mock him in their dismissal of his appeal.

Keep reading

Houston Says Businesses Must Install Surveillance Cameras and Cops Can View Footage Without a Warrant

Houston mandates spying outside bars and other businesses. Officials in Houston, Texas, have voted to require an array of businesses—including bars, convenience stores, and strip clubs—to install surveillance cameras and make footage from them readily available to police. The dystopian move is a transparently unconstitutional attempt by city leaders to circumvent Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

To access video from the cameras, police officers will not need a warrant.

The rules apply to all Houston bars, convenience stores, game rooms, nightclubs, or sexually-oriented businesses.

Owners of these establishments must install (on their own dime) surveillance cameras in outdoor areas “providing video coverage from the exterior of the building to the property line.” Businesses must keep these cameras running 24 hours a day, and store camera footage for at least 30 days.

If surveillance footage is requested by the Houston Police Department, businesses must turn it over within 72 hours. Failure to comply would mean fines of $500 per day.

The Houston City Council approved this privacy-killing measure on Wednesday by a vote of 15–1.

“Their vote demonstrated a willingness to push aside constitutional protections and subject Houstonians to overbroad police searches,” said Savannah Kumar of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “But a city cannot override the Constitution. We are here to help you protect your rights. If the police come knocking on your door, tell them to get a warrant, whether it’s your home or your business.”

The measure is set to take effect in 90 days.

“In addition to trampling on the Fourth Amendment rights of business owners, Houston’s new law also infringes on property rights,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Jared McClain. “This ordinance unfairly saddles certain businesses with thousands of dollars in new expenses to install high-definition surveillance cameras and to archive their footage so it’s available for police on demand.”

Keep reading

Family Kicked Off Their Own Property, Fined for Living Sustainably As Politicians Ignore Them

There is no question that 2020 was one of the most difficult years in American history. As the government shut down the economy, driving unemployment to record levels and forcing businesses to close their doors forever, tens of millions of Americans found themselves in dire straits. To deal with the unprecedented hard times, some folks like Tim Leslie and his family began to get creative, buying property and homesteading. However, because the land of the free is but a fleeting memory in this country, government officials did all they could to thwart it.

We first reported on the Leslie family last year after Tim lost his job due to the pandemic. With no other options in mind, he bought a plot of land in Polk County, parked an RV on it and began to live off the land. On the property, Leslie has chickens, goats, and a vegetable garden for his wife and their two kids, 9-year-old Knox and 18-month-old Daisy.

The family planned on building their “forever home” on the property where they would retire. Unfortunately, however, that has yet to happen. TFTP has been keeping up with Leslie over the last year and they keep hitting speed bump after speed bump.

As we reported at the time, after he was fired, Leslie took his life savings — draining his pension and 401(k) — and bought the property in Polk County. The purchase took place in November of 2020.

The family’s dreams of homesteading on their own property came to a grinding halt, however, and has morphed into a nightmare thanks to the intrusive and utterly cruel nature of the state. They were kicked off their property just days before Christmas.

Keep reading

Meet Your New Feudal Overlords

Classic feudalism was a system where a wealthy land-owning nobility (the 1%) controlled the peasant class of workers known as serfs (everyone else). The elites provided serfs with a small piece of land on which to live. Although they paid taxes, generally, serfs owned no property, had no economic power or upward mobility. During the Middle Ages, as much as 90% of Europe’s population fell into this category.

Sound familiar?

I admit it’s not a perfect comparison, but it’s something worth considering — especially given what’s happening not just with housing but with land ownership in general. In our system, owning real estate is the most common vehicle for wealth accumulation. So what happens when only the wealthiest Americans can afford to own property?

Before you answer, you should know that billionaires are buying up land like it’s going out of style. Do you know who owns the most farmland in the United States? Bill Gates and his soon-to-be ex-wife Melinda, that’s who. With 242,000 acres of cropland plus nearly 30,000 additional acres of land in their real estate portfolio, they’re playing real-life monopoly.

According to The Land Report, 100 families own 42 million acres across the country.

The Gates family barely breaks the top 50. Former TCI chief John Malone is at the top of the list with 2.2 million acres.

While billionaires snatch up the country’s ranches and farmland, Wall Street is buying up all the houses they can get their hands on.

Keep reading

Spain’s Proposed ‘National Security Law’ Would Allow Seizure Of Citizens’ Property During Health “Crisis”

The prominent Spanish daily El País is reporting a hugely alarming scenario in which Spain’s central government is mulling a national mobilization and “security law” which would compel citizens to “temporarily” give up their rights in instances of future public health crises or emergencies such as happened with the coronavirus pandemic.

The law is currently at the level of a mere proposal but worrisomely it would elevate matters of public health to the level of ‘national security’ – as El País spells out based on a translation of its reporting: “Any person of legal age shall be obliged to carry out the ‘personal obligations’ required by the competent authorities, following the guidelines of the National Security Council, when a state of crisis is declared in Spain. In this case, all citizens without exception must comply with the orders and instructions issued by the authorities.

Keep reading