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No, You Can't Build a Home & Grow Pot in a L.A. County Park

Images courtesy LASD
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Looking for a new place to live? While we understand the real estate market is a bit difficult these days, unfortunately the (legal) solution is not to build yourself a home in a Los Angeles County Park.

And, yes: Someone has been doing this. For over a year, actually. That man is 51-year-old Robert Downs, who built what the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department describes as "a small crude structure in a remote area of" the Tujunga Ponds Wildlife Sanctuary in Sunland.

Downs was discovered in his makeshift abode along with a couple of pals Monday.

"The structure had four bunk beds built into the walls, tables, shelves and even fire extinguishers on the walls. They also had a rock patio in front of the building with a barbeque and tables," notes the LASD. To ensure he wasn't easily spotted, Downs "camouflaged the entire structure down to the tire of the wheelbarrow by cutting down trees and using camouflage tarp and paint," in order to deflect the prying eyes of the LASD, who patrol the Park.

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The suspect also was doing a little gardening at home; deputies found eight marijuana plants growing outside the structure.

Downs was arrested for Cultivation of Marijuana and for Removing Plants and Trees from a County Park. His buddies, "a 30 year old and a 45 year old, both residents of Sun Valley, were issued citations for Los Angeles County Code violations and released."

The structure will be dismantled and removed in the next couple of weeks.

As the LASD points out: "It is illegal to be in a Los Angeles County Park after dark, let alone to build a structure and reside there."