A California Homeowner Commissioned a Spite Mural of the Boat He Was Supposed to Hide From View

The city of Seaside wanted Etienne Constable to keep his boat out of sight and behind a fence. Fortunately, his neighbor is a mural artist.
California man thwarts Seaside city officials with boat mural
California man thwarts Seaside city officials with boat mural / ABC7

The phrase malicious compliance is getting a workout in Seaside, California. That’s where the owner of a boat parked at his residence has opted to greet a local government demand to hide his vessel from public view by painting his fence with a spite mural of it.

According to local news outlet KSBW, the city informed Etienne Constable in summer 2023 that the boat parked in his residential driveway needed to be stored behind a 6-foot fence or screen. The edict stems from a municipal code regarding parking restrictions on sea vessels.

Apparently irked by the request, Constable hired his neighbor, a local mural artist named Hanif Panni, to paint a photorealistic mural of the boat on the fence—a devious but technically adherent observation of the notice.

“I'm not a rule-breaker but I like to make a political statement as necessary as well as a humorous statement and a creative statement,” Constable told KSBW.

“My neighbor has a sea-faring vessel which he parks on the side of his home,” Panni wrote on YouTube. “A few weeks ago, he received a letter from the city stating he needed to build a new fence to hide said vessel from view of the street. After reluctantly building the fence and driveway, he presented a sassy idea to me that would require my artistic skills. So here it is … A painting of boat in a driveway next to a house on a fence in front of a boat in a driveway next to a house!”

The mural deftly incorporates surrounding elements—like the home’s brick façade, the driveway, and trees—to make it appear seamless. A portion of the actual boat protrudes above the fence. Panni shot a time-lapse video of the mural, which can be seen below.

Constable has owned the boat, dubbed Might As Well, for four years. He had previously stored a sailboat on his property. No one had attempted to enforce the municipal code until recently, he said.

Homeowners engaging in spite is hardly a new practice. The most famous example might be San Francisco railroad baron Charles Crocker, who grew so agitated by a neighbor’s refusal to sell their property to him in 1876 that he ordered construction of a 40-foot-tall spite fence that shrouded the adjoining home in near-darkness. It was torn down only after both men had died.

So far, the city has not acknowledged the mural. It’s not clear on what grounds they might be able to object to it. They may soon have more than one to deal with: Panni said he’s been approached by other residents for similar jobs.

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[h/t KSBW]