Metallica's 'heavy metal' fence dispute

August 18, 2008 7:35:35 PM PDT
In Marin County, a homeowner has become the target of the wrath of some neighbors who don't like a fence he built.

The land is owned by a heavy metal rocker, James Hetfield of Metallica. It's between Terra Linda and Sleepy Hollow in Marin County. The Luiz Fire Road and open space high above Terra Linda is where Connie Berto, among others, has enjoyed the scenery for much of her life.

"I have ridden once a week over forty years, and see something different every time," says Berto.

But she says she has seen nothing like the fence and gate that materialized here about six weeks ago.

"It's like slamming the door on serenity," says Berto.

It's a sentiment echoed by many other hikers and bikers who use this trail.

"I would compare it to something in the Eastern Block," says Frank Eldredge, hiker.

The land is a few hundred yards of private property, standing between two sections of open space that locals claim they have always passed through, until now.

Even the county admits that there is nothing it can do about the fence. The Deputy Director of Parks would not go on camera because he says it's too sensitive and that negotiations are going on.

He told ABC7 News that "Hetfield has the right to close off his property. We believe he had an issue with people having parties and making campfires."

In the meantime, Hetfield's attorney told us the county never contacted him about this new fence, and that neither he nor the previous owner agreed to people passing through.

'There was a fence there for decades. Hikers breached and broke a smaller gate countless times. For Mr. Hetfield to be vilified in this borders on the absurd. He has done the county a favor by agreeing to preserve hundreds of acres of open space, not to walk through, but to look at."

"Boycott Metallica!" says Connie Berto.

And for now, at least, the fence will stay.

It's a heavy metal message from a hard rocker -- in a place where nature plays on.


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