State Cites, Then Boots Formerly Homeless Man — For Living on Property He Owns

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Top Tier Gear USA


Having spent years without a place to call home besides the streets, Clem Smith experienced what must have been a bittersweet windfall, when his mother bequeathed $214,000 in a will upon her passing — facilitating the purchase of property and stability in the future with the completion of a house he planned to construct.

In the interim, Smith allotted part of that inheritance to stock his new Conifer, Colorado, property with a used car, an older front-end loader, dump truck, shipping container, chicken coop — complete with four hens — and an RV, intended as housing only until construction of the home is complete.

“Of the $214,000 inheritance,” reports local ABC affiliate, Denver7, Smith “spent $125,000 for the property and put the rest into improvements for a power connection, water well, septic drawings, septic engineering and road engineering.”

In her passing, Smith’s mother bestowed the one thing her son hadn’t felt in over six years: security.

This seemingly impossible dream — a physical address at the place where he looked forward to growing old — abruptly metamorphosed into reality.

But it was tragically and avoidably ephemeral.

An irritated neighbor reported the RV, shipping container, and refuse on the property, for which Smith received code violation citations — under the premise those items were being stored on otherwise vacant land, and that others would be allowed to stay and live in the shipping container.

Smith vehemently denies the latter allegation, telling Denver7, “I believe the person that complained came in (the shipping container) and saw a dresser and thought people were going to try to live here.”

That dresser serves as a storage container and workbench, he asserts, used for construction and other planning.

“Jeanie Rossillon, Jefferson County’s director of development and transportation, said that under existing code, the RV is considered an accessory and cannot be parked on the property without a house. Ditto for the shipping container,” Denver7 notes.

To the property owner, it isn’t the time frame, but the fact he’s actively building the home — himself — as quickly as he’s able, and harbors no designs to live in the camper permanently. But the county insists he move the two items off the property — at his now-limited expense — or be fined $500 to $1,000, with potential additional repercussions down the road.

If he leaves with the RV, Smith would have to avail himself of a Walmart parking lot, making a commute — to the property he owns to work on the house — a gas-guzzling arduous affair.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he opined. “I’ve been on the homeless circuit for several years and everybody at the campgrounds and at Walmart, is hoping to get a piece of property and build their own home.”

All frugality notwithstanding, the inheritance has already dwindled — Smith worries the nitpicky strictures will ultimately force him back onto the streets, despite the dream being palpable.

Rossillon cited typical bureaucratic rhetoric pertaining to code enforcement — health, safety, and welfare — in coldly affirming the county’s position.

“It’s also about expectations and balancing everyone’s property rights,” she added, alluding to the unnamed neighbor who reported the violations as well as something vague about hippies in schoolbuses camped on nearby mountains in the 1970s — while failing to elaborate on Smith’s unique predicament — much less, the violation of his property rights.

“I own this property,” Smith, despondent and emotional, told Denver7. “I paid for it in cash. It’s all mine.  I should be able to live on it for a certain amount of time, while I’m surveying, engineering or planning.”

He added, “I shouldn’t have to pay a fine, I’m not a criminal.”

Having his ultimate dream within reach for such a fleeting time — and facing extraordinary callousness from the inflexible State, due only to a neighbor’s upturned nose at the activity Smith undertook on property he owns — has filled the man with anxiety and despair.

Worse, the ludicrous turn of events threatens to rob Smith of the most cherished gift his mother’s estate offered: security.

No state — Colorado, here’s lookin’ at you — can describe itself as compassionate, even one iota, on the issue of homelessness, and then place obstacles this mountainous in the path of those doing their best to overcome the problem.

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Contributed by Claire Bernish of The Daily Sheeple.

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  • If he hadn’t completely ignored the performance of his due diligence before he launched into his project, I’d feel sorry for him. He didn’t violate any new rules or laws. He violated rules and laws he should known about. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. I’m only sorry that he had to learn about his own ignorance that way.
    Having lived on several Walmart parking lots for many years, I can understand the cost of commuting, but he has made his bed and he has little choice but to sleep in it. If he can find an accommodating neighbor, he could park the RV on their property while he lives in it and walks to his property. If he got a building permit, that should justify the container if he keeps it locked when he is absent. There is a reason why the Jefferson County courthouse is called the Taj Mahal, it enjoys a good revenue flow. I grew up in Denver and subsequently lived in a van surreptitiously walking distance from downtown. I only got away with it because I knew the territory and the rules well enough to skirt them successfully.

    • R. Shultz

      Missing the point……..In the ‘land of the free’..This man is not free because of petty bureaucratic rules and an inflexible system..In my township an owner was living in a house while renovating…Township said ‘No”.. he needs a Occupancy Permit…but couldn’t get one because the house was unfinished…Catch 22.
      He sued the Township…Township now offers a Temp. Permit…A common sense solution that satisfies both parties…BUT he had to sue to make it happen.

      • If you think this is the land of the free, your number one freedom is to be deceived.

        • R. Shultz

          I agree…I say ‘land of the free’ cynically….
          Total Marshall Law/Police State is just one big ‘false flag’ away…

          • It has been burgeoning since Tim McVeigh carried out his programming.

          • R. Shultz

            What’s scary is that McVeigh’s programming seemed close to perfected….Many years..trial/error and human guinea pigs had to come before OK bombing…..
            What else is out there waiting….??
            And which direction is it coming from???

          • McVeigh was a high level success from the MK Ultra program. There will be others, but they will be more diffuse, allowing foreigners to be used as strawmen “terrorists”. Such will be the excuse used to clamp down on the noncompliant.

          • R. Shultz

            Something wicked this way comes…….The 2nd Admend. is a thin wall holding it back…As common core steals young minds and shiny objects occupy others…..I hope there is enough “non-compliant s ” to make a difference….

    • John C Carleton

      Like that boot on your neck do you?

    • G’ma G

      “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” The problem is bureaucrats putting their administrative codes first–completely ignoring their Oaths to support the Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the land. Absent some proof of harm to the public there is no grounds for disallowing (anything) the land owner to stay in an RV–most especially one that is self contained.
      That said I would remind everyone that the law is arbitrary by nature. What was legal yesterday is illegal today and vice versa. The law is only what the next judge’s opinion says it is. Ignorance of the law is a given under these circumstances.

      • The United States Code in unannotated form occupies less than 2 feet of library shelf. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in unannotated form occupies the rest of the shelves in that section. The various federal court reporters occupy the majority of a state Supreme Court law library. Treatises are frequently the most cogent material of all. Bureaucrats don’t deal with anything but the CFR, and the CFR is only applicable to them and those ignorant enough to grant jurisdiction to an administrative law court. Administrative law court judges are not Article 3 judges. Ignorance of anything is a given where no one pays any due diligence to it.

      • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

        I was just going to say much the same thing.

        A law (especially a mere administrative code) which flies in the face of the Constitution is null and void, on the spot, as it were.

        If I were him, I’d try to find a lawyer to do the work pro bono or on a contingency – sue the city for more than enough money to complete the project, with plenty left over to live the rest of my life in comfort.

        • Constitutionality of administrative law is a moot issue to the average public practice lawyer. Administrative law is the law if you have subjected yourself to the non-Article 3 courts. All you have to do is walk away if it doesn’t apply to you, but most don’t understand the different between Article 3 and non-Article 3 courts. Don’t cross the bar and it can’t be used to bludgeon you.

          • ReverendDraco✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

            Looks like I have some more reading to do. . .

          • Anyone who is willing to admit their ignorance to themselves will never run out of autodidactic reading. Now that I can live on meager social security payments, I’m starting to run out of time to read:-)(

          • G’ma G

            Don’t cross the bar and the courts rule you failed to appear–resulting in either a ruling against you are an arrest warrant.

          • A non-article 3 court has neither subpoena nor summons authority until you grant it jurisdiction. If you grant a non-article 3 court jurisdiction in ignorance, you will get the education you deserve.

          • G’ma G

            True again but reality is that they will use their goons with guns to haul you in on those invalid subpoenas, summons and warrants. I have witnessed 3 people be jailed for contempt of court for not granting or otherwise challenging the courts jurisdiction. There is a very big difference between education and experience when it comes to dealing with our corrupt judicial system.
            I enjoy your contributions but implore you to be a court watcher to turn your knowledge into wisdom.

          • There is a massive difference between article 3 courts and administrative law courts that you apparently don’t care to consider, so enjoy the bliss of your ignorance.

          • G’ma G

            You are being deliberately dense. Of course I know the difference. It is the corruption of the courts not admitting the difference then using their goons to enforce their fraud that is the problem.

          • I couldn’t possibly be as thick as you are, but I’ll give it one more try.
            If a court is not an article 3 court, like those given authority by the Constitution (I hope you know what that is), then it has no authority nor jurisdiction over you UNLESS you grant it such. Once you have granted it authority and jurisdiction by traversing to it, non-article 3 courts are like article 3 courts. In other words, DO NOT GIVE NON-ARTICLE 3 COURTS JURISDICTION!

          • G’ma G

            Sigh…You keep confusing what is written with reality. Many of us who are aware of the distinction and have not granted jurisdiction have been arrested under warrants for failure to appear or jailed for contempt of court for challenging its jurisdiction–from the people’s side of the bar no less. I don’t mean to diminish your knowledge. Please keep sharing it. It is important. I want to help you turn your knowledge into wisdom. I am not your enemy.

          • You wouldn’t and couldn’t have been “arrested under warrants for failure to appear or jailed for contempt of court for challenging its jurisdiction” if you hadn’t traversed to it.

          • G’ma G

            We are done for this round. Warrants and summons’ are not things we schedule.

    • Tatiana Covington

      Oh the hell with laws.

  • Undecider

    He couldn’t move into an apartment for a short period while getting his things together?

    • Jimmy B

      With a good majority of one bedroom apartments costing anywhere from $800 to $1000 per month, not including all the utilities; and then add on the fact that most make you sign a one year lease, could very well stop him in his tracks as far as monthly income is concerned; all going to the apartment and living expenses.

    • The Tuna Fairy

      See my rant above. I am living in a rental, same issues going on. I have serious health issues, part of my design for my house is very low chance of mold problems. The rental I am in (second one here, first one was worse) has something moldy going on, basically just bad design, only way to fix it would be to rebuild it and do it right, which is why I’m building in the first place. So on top of the expense of the rental, my health is crashing, due to things that can’t be fixed. I have looked into other places here, and this one is the best I see, most are worse.
      Rental is being expensive, difficult to work with, it takes me more effort to deal with things like going to the property to work, it just makes me crazy. I WANT MY OWN HOUSE!!!
      This shouldn’t be so damn difficult. It really shouldn’t.

      • Undecider

        We have to be cognizant of the laws and potential problems that can be caused by government. Even if we think we’re in the right. My recommendation would be to check and re-check with the police and government. Not to mention, get to know the neighbors. It would be a good investment in time and caution. This is sort of hindsight based on a the article above. I don’t have all the answers but am looking at possible solutions.

        • The Tuna Fairy

          Oh I am checking with everything. That’s why I don’t have a house yet 🙂 If it was just me doing what I wanted, I’d have had it done by now.

          My neighbors are awesome, I love them, I couldn’t have gotten better ones if I had tried. I look forward to being able to live there and be a useful neighbor to them.

          The only thing I’m having issues with on this whole bit is the codes hoop jumping. And the problem is not that I’m trying to do crappy work, the problem is I’m trying to build way above code, a passive house variant, and they don’t understand the technique. I could build a crappy, energy wasting, inefficient, badly designed house and they’d have no issues with it. That is “normal construction” I want to do “good construction” and that’s the problem.

    • G’ma G

      Does money grow on trees for you?

  • celticreeler

    Two types of people in the world:

    Those who just want to be left alone, and

    Those who refuse to leave them alone.

    Maybe this poor guy doesn’t want to have a gigantic mortgage. This is not illegal.

    He seems isolated and for whatever reason, he’s doing things on his own. This is not illegal.

    He doesn’t seem to want to find the time to read a zillion arcane rules about where he can store a hammer, how long a patch of rust can remain visible to passers-by, etc. I don’t blame him for this….if you have to fall back on “you just need to make sure you know all the rules,” that has become a recipe for enslavement.

  • G’ma G

    I went my rounds with the county. I live off grid. I use a dry composting system which was the issue. Bottom line–no evidence of threat to the public health means no authority to tell me how to take a shit. I was even threatened to have my place condemned if I didn’t contract with the county by getting a septic permit–for a system that is frankly stupid given my proximity to wetlands. No state law requires a septic system–just a permit IF you are putting one in. So of course the county wanted to say that meant I had to get a permit. Do you begin to understand the mind set and deceptive practices? Anyways, I wrote that they were attempting extortion and needed to back off before I perceived their actions as a threat and responded accordingly. Silence for 3 years.

  • gazoo3

    How the hell is it illegal to camp out on your own property ? Especially in an RV ?

  • Art V

    Disgraceful but VERY typical of arrogant, elitest and VERY Liberal Colorado

    • The Tuna Fairy

      It’s happening in non-liberal areas too. This is a common rule, and lots of us fight with it. Not just Colorado.

  • gazoo3

    Death to power tripping government turds.

  • Jimmy B

    This is preposterous. I have seen, throughout my decades of life, many temporary construction “homes”, where the project managers and workers plan the construction of whatever they are building. These “homes” have also been in the form of trailers or of single wide mobile homes. They are temporary structures used as offices for the construction personal. Of course they are on the property being constructed. How stupid can the state be?

  • farmgirl

    I’ve had my property for years, lived on it when the “house” had no heat, water or proper septic. After I reno’d the house, I built a cottage on it, moved two trailers onto it and have had homeless people living here until they got a job and moved to a better place of their own. I have never had a problem, even when I lived on the property myself, in a trailer, while I was rebuilding the house.

    • bobbi brownose

      thats because you flew under the radar… you were simply lucky.

  • SP_88

    Many construction projects have a trailer on the property prior to the construction of the building. And there is also a lot of other stuff, like piles of building materials, equipment, storage trailers, dumpsters, etc, and the town, city or state never says anything or tries to fine anyone for anything. This is bullshit.
    These crooked politicians and bureaucrats don’t want to get rid of the homeless problem. They want to get rid of the homeless people. And they don’t care how. Kill them, throw them in jail, put them in a mental institution, force them to relocate to another city so they become someone else’s problem, whatever it takes. They have no intention of giving them any real help.
    As our economy continues to go downhill, more and more people are going to end up being homeless and in poverty. Unfortunately most of them are not going to end up with a large inheritance to get them out of their situation. And if they do, apparently the state will do everything in their power to ensure that doesn’t happen.
    These bureaucrats see this man getting ahead, and they want to push him into a position where he is forced to give up his property and forfeit his inheritance to them. They see someone with money who doesn’t normally have any, and they think that they can force it out of him.
    And then they wonder why people kill other people.

    • celticreeler

      Excellent comment.

  • bobbi brownose

    this country is a piece of fucking shit.

  • The Tuna Fairy

    I’d LOVE to see the case reports, got a link?

  • The Tuna Fairy

    I’m another one of the people dealing with these same rules, different state, non-liberal location. I did my diligence, and am living in a rental, which is draining my non-renewable funds, while I try to deal with everything involved in building. I was not even allowed to store my possessions in a shipping container on the property while I build, definitely couldn’t live in an RV on the property. My neighbors are horrified and disgusted by these rules, absolutely would not be complaining, the ONLY ones offended are the codes people.

    I’m having issues with codes because I want to do non-standard, ABOVE the code in use here, construction techniques that aren’t familiar to them.

    Construction codes were written to to keep the bottom feeder type builders from selling people badly built houses, an owner built house that is well designed, sturdier, more energy efficient, etc is NOT in that category!!

    I HATE this crap. I just want to be left alone. I’m doing NOTHING wrong, why must I be treated like a criminal?

    • G’ma G

      Making things worse was the adoption of the international electric code a couple years ago. The inspector’s don’t understand it so they are all doing their own thing. Consequently each inspector will want things done differently.
      I was fortunate to find a county that has an owner builder exemption–no permit if you are building inside 100 feet of the properties exterior boundaries. This didn’t stop them pestering me, first by the building department which I un-politely told to piss off–that I had no confidences in their personnel’s construction knowledge since they couldn’t see I am so clearly beyond the 100 foot mark. The big one was the order by the health department to contract with them or face criminal charges. They have been silent for 3 years in face of my informing them I saw their attempted extortion and threat to make me homeless as a threat I would protect myself from accordingly.
      Because you are already sucked into the system you are pretty much stuck with it. Best defense and plan forward is to make nice with the inspectors. Diligently do every stupid thing they ask–give them power. Many times in life we have to do things we don’t want to do to get to where we need to go.

      • The Tuna Fairy

        That’s where I am at with it. It just frustrates me.

  • Jeff

    I am constantly amazed at the complete ignorance of the American people and the unending flood of propaganda these naïve, gullible fools believe.

    You don’t own anything in this country. If you don’t own a place to put your stuff then you and your stuff are living on the street. You don’t own anything. It is called a mortgage. First, the bank owns it. Stop paying your mortgage and see how long before you and your stuff is out on the street.

    And all the time you have a place to put your stuff, the government owns it. It is called property taxes. Stop paying those and see how long before your stuff becomes their stuff.

    Even if you manage to get past all that exploitation and usury, after a very short period on this planet you die. You can’t even take your stuff with you.

  • Beauzy

    Its very hard to contract with joe of the family blogs
    But the system loves it when idiots answer to BLOGS JOE DOE.
    Wake up.

  • Your recognition is based upon a deeper understanding and advanced practice.

  • Are you his mentor or handler?

  • Doug Mccomb

    Bingo…All the city counsel !