A man ordered to hide his boat painted his new fence with the offending boat. The act of rebellion is changing his city.

A man ordered to hide his boat painted his new fence with the offending boat. The act of rebellion is changing his city.
  • Etienne Constable was ordered to hide his boat from the street or face a $100 fine.

  • Constable asked his neighbor to paint the boat on his city-mandated fence that blocks it from view.

  • The neighbor, artist Hanif Panni, said he's been inundated with requests to paint similar murals.

A fence in California is catching eyes not for its extravagance or scale, but for its playful defiance against a city ordinance.

In July 2023, Senior Applications Manager Etienne Constable received a notice from the city of Seaside, a 30,000-person enclave on the Pacific Coast about 116 miles south of San Francisco. It requested that he build a barrier to shield his boat, parked in his driveway, from street view — and he faced a $100 fine if he didn't comply, with the possibility of it escalating to a maximum of $500.

In a cheekily clever move, he sought the help of his neighbor, artist Hanif Panni, to devise an ingenious workaround: building a fence, yes, but adorning it with a strikingly lifelike mural of his boat.

"He came to me and said, 'Wouldn't it be funny if we did something like this?'" Panni told Business Insider. "He's not a prankster, but he does have some pretty interesting ideas for fighting bureaucracy in a positive way."

Hanif and a friend working on the mural.
Hanif and his son working on the mural.Hanif Panni / @hanifwondir

Constable, who told Business Insider that he has lived in his home for 29 years, has parked his boat trailer in his driveway without contest for the majority of that time.

The regulation within Seaside's Title 17 Zoning Ordinance Code mandates that boats and trailers be enclosed by a six-foot-high fence along their sides and fronts, but Constable said it wasn't enforced with any regularity.

"Before last July, I was never aware of it," he said.

However, everything took a turn in early 2023 when Seaside stepped up its code enforcement efforts in response to many long-standing complaints. The city started issuing letters to residents, including Constable, as reported by The Washington Post.

"I was certainly surprised and immediately a little bit angry since I've had a different boat trailer parked there almost the whole time I have lived in this neighborhood," he said. "I knew I couldn't fight city hall because I'm not famous or rich, but I thought I could start with my intellect."

Panni said what he was paid to paint the mural was considerably "less than what the city would have charged Constable if he hadn't built the fence."

Constable and Panni's innovative solution was greeted with uproarious laughter and attention on social media. As a result, Panni has been inundated with requests from other Seaside residents who are eager to have their own fences similarly — and defiantly — transformed.

"It's been pretty hilarious," Panni said. "I have a couple inquiries, and I'm meeting with people that have similar letters from the city. It's really refreshing that this public art statement is inspiring so much conversation."

Seaside's city leaders are, surprisingly, quite pleased with Constable's rebellious fence.

In May, Police Chief Nick Borges, who currently serves as the acting city manager, visited Constable's home to discuss the fence's mural.

During their meeting, Borges not only extended his congratulations to Constable but also expressed his admiration with a heartfelt high-five. According to Constable, Borges also mentioned that he was in favor of the city getting rid of some ordinances, including Title 17.

"We're not taking any action," local news outlet KSBW reported Borges said. "The only action I'm going to take is a high five, and that's it."

Read the original article on Business Insider