David Hoffman (pictured above) of Marin County, Calif., has built a pond that refills with groundwater using a solar powered pump. He utilizes buckets of worms to digest food waste and human waste and turn it into useful fertilizer for his gardens. He has carved caves for drying tea leaves. And he has used recycled materials to build an ornate teahouse.
Hoffman, who has 30 completed or partially completed structures on his property, has made his entire home completely sustainable. It's taken him 40 years to build it.
And now he has until Aug. 1 to tear it and all the others down.
County officials said Hoffman didn't have permits to build the structures, so he must get rid of them -- and pay nearly $200,000 in fines.
"It's an expression of complete and blatant disregard for collaborating with authorities," Steve Kinsey, a Marin County supervisor, told The New York Times. "But it is also the life work of a creative individual."
Hoffman's trouble with the law started in 1988, when a building inspector ordered him to stop construction of a "Tea Pagoda." Since then, he has repeatedly ignored requests to file for permits and orders to tear down his illegal additions. According to a code-enforcement hearing-officer staff report, he also illegally runs a commercial tea business from his property.
The county isn't blindly following the law, though. Kinsey has expressed his regrets for forcing someone to tear down his life's work.
"It would be tragic in my opinion, to see that piece of work destroyed," Kinsey told NBC Bay Area. Kinsey said he hopes the county can find a way for Hoffman to keep his work and said it is exploring ways to achieve that.
Hoffman is still hoping that he can keep his building and continue to pursue his dream. He set up a website and petition in an effort to rally community support.
"My love of the planet is greater than my fear of the law," he told The New York Times.
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