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LONG BEACH : Woman Lowers Height of Fence, Sidesteps Jail

November 10, 1994|DUKE HELFAND

A Bixby Knolls woman avoided a stint in jail this week by complying with a judge's order to lower a fence that violated city height limits.

But Patsy Barggren, who said she built the 8-foot-high fence to provide security and privacy, pledged to continue a three-year battle that has earned her the enmity of a neighbor and city officials.

On Monday, Municipal Judge Bradford L. Andrews dismissed a conviction against Barggren for violating a city law that restricts fences to 6 1/2 feet. The next day, however, Barggren hung a canvass tarp from her back yard trees to shield her property from her next-door neighbor, George Boucher, whom she accuses of harassing her.

"I'm not going to let this man stare at me, no matter what I have to do," Barggren said.

Boucher, 78, denied that he is harassing Barggren, who said she is in her mid-40s. Boucher said he filed an original complaint about the fence, just seven feet from his house, because it was ugly and hindered his view. Boucher said he is thinking of reporting the tarp to city inspectors. "It just looks like hell," Boucher said. "I don't understand why she wants all this privacy."

City Prosecutor John Vander Lans said he is uncertain if the tarp violates city laws but said inspectors will investigate if a complaint is filed. Vander Lans, who personally handled the criminal case against Barggren, expressed anger at the thought of having to spend more time on the matter.

"We've been fiddling with (this) for three years," he said. "Win, lose or draw, it's over with."

Barggren has spent about $25,000 on legal fees defending the $5,000 fence over the last three years. She had been ordered to lower the fence before her scheduled court appearance Monday or face six months in jail. She said she may take her case to federal court. From the beginning of the saga, Barggren has contended that she was singled out for prosecution.

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