Los Angeles, CA – Rob Rhinehart, developer of the "magical milkshake" known as Soylent, has been criminally charged for attempting to build an off-grid "experiment in sustainable living" without obtaining city permits. He could face up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
Rhinehart bought an 8,422-square foot plot of land on Flat Top Hill overlooking the city and placed a shipping container on it, planning to create a minimalist dwelling with solar panels, septic tank and graywater recycling.
However, any time someone wants to live detached from the government-regulated grid and associated extortion fees, it draws the attention of authorities.
Part of the problem may be that he didn't move quickly enough for nearby residents who complained about the large red structure sitting up on the hill. They didn't like that some trash was left behind after Rhinehart hosted a party there, and how the shipping container became the target of graffiti and misbehaving youngsters.
Rhinehart said he would move the structure to a new location, but the city was already working to bring him up on charges. Rhinehart maintains that he spent thousands to improve the land, remove trash and mow the grass on his land and the entire hilltop.
"Flat Top hill has been a gathering spot since long before I arrived. I would be thrilled if the area became a park, but that has not materialized so in the meantime I have a right to use land that I own," Rhinehart told The Guardian via email. "I want a sturdy, lightweight, affordable home."