The creator of the meal replacement product Soylent was criminally charged by the city of Los Angeles because he was living in a shipping crate that was deemed a hazard to society.
CEO Rob Rhinehart purchased a deserted red shipping crate for one of his properties, atop a hill outside of Los Angeles. The shipping crate has since been confiscated.
Rhinehart was “allegedly performing unpermitted work and refusing to remove a vandalized abandoned cargo container from a Montecito Heights hillside,” according to a statement released by city attorney Mike Feuer. Feuer also contends that Rhinehart was warned of the illegality of his actions before, but “refused to remove the container from the site and agree to any timeline for complying with Building and Safety Order.”
Rhinehart started Soylent, a powder-based scientific concoction of various ingredients intended to meet all nutritional requirements.
Food, he described in an original blog post, “is an enormous market full of waste, regulation, and biased allocation with serious geo-political implications.” Furthermore, Rhinehart “resented the time, money, and effort the purchase, preparation, consumption, and clean-up food was consuming.”
Described as “experimental living,” Rhinehart’s Montecito Heights premises angered neighbors. The majority of adjacent residents were not unhappy with the cargo container itself, but the upkeep of the structure — as time passed, the crate became vandalized and attracted visitors not welcome to the neighborhood.
After several complaints of the eyesore were filed to local officials, the metal box was seized and removed from the property, The Los Angeles Times reports. The CEO was also served charges of “unpermitted” construction as well other infractions.
“Unpermitted structures pose a safety risk. They also can be unsightly and erode the quality of life in a neighborhood,” said Feuer. “My office will work to hold property owners accountable if they flout our building and safety laws.”
If Rhinehart is convicted, he could face a maximum of two years in jail and $4,000 in civil penalties.
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