California man trolls city officials with 'artistic statement' after being asked to fence in his boat

A California boat owner became a local celebrity after he decided to stick it to city officials who asked him to build a fence around his boat.

Etienne Constable, a Seaside, California, resident, owns a boat that he had kept parked on a dirt patch on his property. In July 2023, officials asked him to build a proper driveway and to put up a 6-foot-tall fence that covered his boat.

In an interview with Fox News Digital on Monday, Constable explained that he "wasn't looking for a private property rights fight with the city," but disagreed with officials for thinking his boat was an eyesore.

"There's some logic to the law about, you know, not having decrepit vehicles….and I figured, 'This is not unsightly.' I don't know why they would threaten me that way," he recalled.

"I just figured there's a First Amendment right of writing whatever statement I want, on whatever property I have," he continued. "So, yeah, just kind of standing up for myself."

Constable ended up complying with the city by building a fence, but he decided to have some fun with it by commissioning a life-like mural on the structure.

The art is arguably so realistic that, at a quick glance, it almost appears that the fence isn't there at all.

Constable explained that he wanted to avoid having an unattractive fence, opting for a look that was more appealing.

"I just thought, 'Here's a creative way to make a statement.' And [as] an artistic statement, it's open to many interpretations, and I think that's part of the beauty of it," Constable said.

Constable got in touch with a local artist named Hanif Panni, who happens to be his neighbor, to help bring the idea to life. The City of Seaside appeared to applaud Constable and Panni's creativity, according to a Facebook post on Saturday.

"Seaside resident got creative when complying to the municipal code to hide his boat with a fence," the post's caption read. "He turned lemons into lemonade and had his artist neighbor paint a hyperrealistic mural of the boat on the fence itself!"

"The result? A optical illusion and a whole lot of media attention," the post continued.

Constable admitted that his stunt got much more attention than he expected.

"I was ready for whatever reaction might come, although I certainly wasn't ready for this thing to go viral like it has … I didn't know how the city would react," he told Fox News Digital.

"I got a call from the acting city manager/police chief and he said, 'Dude, you're hilarious. I'd give you a high-five. I'd love to meet you someday. And, you know, if you need anything, let me know.'"

Constable, whose community is just outside of Monterey, says that the attention he's received from locals has been overwhelmingly positive.

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"Ninety-nine percent of everybody else in this community thought it was hilarious, and [thought] that there's some silly laws on the books. Why do we make each other suffer in this way for whatever reason?" he said with a laugh.

If Constable did not conceal his boat, he would have had to pay a first offense fine of $100, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Fox News Digital reached out to Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby for comment.