Mountain View Voice

News - October 8, 2010

City wants Ideafarm box off public property

by Nick Veronin

Wo of Ideafarm is in trouble with the law, again.

The unusually named man is a common sight on the streets of Mountain View, often seen holding signs with slogans decrying selfishness or encouraging passersby to "live wholesomely." At other times, his "campaigns" have carried more incendiary messages on issues such as gay marriage and immigration.

The large, sign-covered box-like trailer that doubles as his home was seized by the police when he was arrested last month. The replacement box, an 8-foot long trailer Ideafarm tows with his bicycle that he refers to as the "doghouse," is not allowed on public land, said City Attorney Jannie Quinn. Ideafarm was issued a letter from the city saying that he cannot encroach upon public property with his structure, she told the Voice.

"I think the city has been incredibly respectful of his First Amendment rights and tolerant of his behavior," Quinn said. "We expect him to comply with the Mountain View city code."

That means that Ideafarm may not park his "doghouse" on public sidewalks or stand in the median of any street and distribute literature or hold campaign placards, Quinn said.

Ideafarm has not gotten along well with the Mountain View police in recent weeks. On Sept. 9 he was arrested in a City Hall conference room on trespassing charges, after he refused to cooperate with an officer who asked him to leave.

The next day, Sept. 10, Ideafarm staged what he calls a "sit in" in the lobby of the Mountain View Police Department. He sat on the ground, blocking the lobby's main counter and reading from a book about the First Amendment. According to police spokeswoman Liz Wylie, officers spent "an inordinate amount of time" trying to convince him to move to a chair in the lobby where he wouldn't block access to the counter. He refused, was again arrested and this time jailed for 13 days. While in jail, police seized his original "doghouse" as evidence, Ideafarm said.

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