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City to evict woman for living "off the grid"

Discussion in 'Property Maintenance' started by Keystone, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. Keystone

    Keystone Sawhorse

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    http://www.fox4now.com/features/4inyourcorner/City-to-evict-woman-for-living-off-the-grid-235494961.html

    CAPE CORAL, Fla. - It was just a matter of time before the City of Cape Coral caught up with her. We first told you about Robin Speronis last month... and her alternative lifestyle, called Living Off the Grid. She lives without running water or electricity -- by choice. But her off-the-grid home is now on the radar of Cape Coral code enforcement.

    "I'm going to bring this to the attention of anyone who will listen until justice is served," Robin Speronis tells 4 In Your Corner's Liza Fernandez as both sit outside her home.

    And Speronis says -- what the City of Cape Coral did the day after the story about her "Off the Grid" lifestyle aired in November is -- unjust.

    "A code enforcement officer came, knocked on the door then posts a placard that says uninhabitable property, do not enter," says Robin as she reads the sign.

    A Cape Coral code enforcement officer posted a "notice to vacate" one day after our story aired.

    "Putting a woman who lives by herself, who is a widow, out on the street without any due process of law is unfathomable," says the outgraged homeowner.

    The notice cites international property maintenance code and states the property is unsafe to be lived in, but Robin wonders how code enforcement would know without ever having been inside the home.

    The city code compliance manager tells 4 In Your Corner he tagged the home because it doesn't have running water or electrcity, although neither modern comfort is mentioned as a requirement in the code cited by the city on the notice.

    While Robin won't say whether she's been living in the home since the notice was posted, she does say the city is overreaching and threatening to take away her home -- which she owns free and clear with taxes up to date.

    "Where is the justice? Why did they choose me," she asks. "…because I was exercising my First Amendment rights of free speech in discussing living off the grid."

    A local attorney has since agreed to take on Robin's case for free. And the city says if she can prove she can sustain herself and her home without water or electricty both parties might be able to come to a solution.
     
  2. fatboy

    fatboy Administrator

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    In my office we have discussed where we draw the line on uninhabitable. Yes we have adopted the IPMC, but where do you draw the line on basic rights to live as you see fit............
     
  3. mtlogcabin

    mtlogcabin Sawhorse

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    She can have all the utilities connected and turned on and still choose not to use them. The city would never know.

    It is pretty easy to live off of the grid if one chooses

    I lived 6 years that way. Wood barrel stove for heat, propane lights and stove top, Hauled water daily for 2 people and 6 horses. Wasn't easy and the outhouse was cold in the winter but it was doable.
     
  4. Keystone

    Keystone Sawhorse

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    Fully agree, it is reasonable to live off the grid. If you watch the video interview this owner does appear to have habitable conditions, rainbarrel, shower bag, propane stove, car battery for particular electric items, etc... IMO, the problem is the populace is trained to think a certain way and once an individual bucks the line they are wrong. The city shot first and now is asking questions because the owner is rightfully fighting back, I did not appear prior attempt has been made to contact the owner to reasonably determine if conditions are habitable.

    I ran across a similar situation within the past three years; after evaluation the municipalities primary concern was the owner flushing excrement into the public sewer system due to billing being directly based from an inactive water meter. The agreement turned out to average the billings of past sewer bills for backpay and future as well as pass on of future increases as necessary. Concern solved, the owner still resides without issue and fortunately for everyone involved the only attorney needed was for the municipality.
     
  5. Glenn

    Glenn Corporate Supporter
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    The problem is people in positions of authority that wake up each morning and plan their ego-boosting mission for their day.

    Rules are meant to address a problem, but too often problems are created to justify the rules...and authority of them.
     
  6. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    There is the question of what is right and there is the question as to what is legal. Would suggest that the City has failed to prove that she is acting illegally since they have not been able to cite a legal basis for their action.

    Given the emphasis by many jurisdictions on sustainability maybe she should be given an award for reducing her impact on the environment.
     
  7. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    Many utilities require deposit and minimum monthly payments that some may not be able to afford.
     
  8. ICE

    ICE Sawhorse

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    I wonder if she lets the p-traps dry out.
     
  9. ICE

    ICE Sawhorse

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    It's just as likely that they feel sorry for her and perceive their efforts as being righteous.

    Evil do-gooders so to speak.

    [​IMG]
     
    #9 ICE, Dec 15, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2013
  10. fireguy

    fireguy Gold Member

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    No electricity, no running water, sounds like hunting camp to me. Or as we call it, paradise
     
  11. Gregg Harris

    Gregg Harris Saw Horse

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    In some scenarios living off the grid is fare more beneficial than on. Several examples have already been posted. I personally would love to live off the grid. Growing up in Colorado my family did live off the grid for several years.

    I say kudos to the woman.
     
  12. Darren Emery

    Darren Emery Sawhorse

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    This is an issue we run up against ever so often. It can be a tough call. More often than not, our experience has been that the resident living without water and/or power is also a hoarder.

    The dilemma - what's better, to allow them to continue to reside in a structure that may be very unsafe, or, to vacate, and force them into homelessness? Not a decision to approach lightly.
     
  13. ICE

    ICE Sawhorse

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    I find it disturbing that a government entity can force someone to abandon property for such trifling reasons. Will she have electricity and running water under a bridge? We'll maybe the water if it's the right bridge.

    How long has she lived there, off the grid? Have there been any problems created by her choice to live without water and power? Had she not been featured on a TV program, she would be going about her daily life, unmolested by the AHJ.

    So what is the plan? Put her out and forget about her? Sell her property and appoint a conservator? Sell her property and send her to Arizona? They can't put her out of her house without a plan to care for her.
     
  14. mn joe

    mn joe Silver Member

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    No one has mentioned code reqirements. 2006 IRC section R306 reqires working W.C., lavatory, a tub or shower and a kitchen sink. Plumbing fixtures must be connected to a sewage system and have hot and cold running water. i think the city is caught in a no-win situation. Does it enforce the code or not?
     
  15. ccbuilding

    ccbuilding Sawhorse

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    We have a extremely rural area in our county that many dwellings are set up with solar or generator power, heat is wood stove or propane furnaces/heaters, no wells - they truck in their water, sewage is ISDS. They have working W.C., lav, tub/shower and kitchen sink with hot and cold running water. We see no conflicts with this and the code. If people chose to live this way, and can do it safely and sanitarily, what is the problem?
     
  16. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    She had that when the house was built

    Does code say it has to be maintained??

    If so what about when someone is on extended vacation and turns all utilities off??

    How about when a city cuts it off for non payment, is the city than in violation for a house not having utilities
     
  17. Frank

    Frank Sawhorse

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    Another question--if after a natural disaster there are widespread power outages and the municipal water system is out of service, do you condem all the otherwise intact homes that are without power and don't have a generator or that don't have water because the municipal water system is out of service due to no power? And yes this can happen in major jurisdictions after an earthquake, hurricaine or tropical storm goes through.
     
  18. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Where are you located? We are in our 10th straight "No Burn Day", I read that some states are now asking the EPA to do something about the pollution they are getting from Delaware and Vermont, in response states are now blaming Appalachian areas and asking the EPA to do something claiming that their pollution is coming from other states.

    ¹ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/12/09/northeastern-states-will-press-midwest-appalachia-on-clean-air/
     
  19. Jobsaver

    Jobsaver Sawhorse

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    It is appropriate to acknowledge any building or property maintenance code violations that might exist should someone choose to live off the grid. Typically, in this day and time, such laws are known to exist that regulate minimum required facilities where such facilities exist in an urban or suburban setting. To live outside of those laws is to be an outlaw . . . so I think it is a good idea to act like one.

    The speed limit in most areas in my municipality is 20 mph. I live on five acres in town, but cannot legally teach my grandsons archery on my property because we have a "no projectile" ordinance. I keep a bed in my workshop which technically makes it an area used for sleeping.

    Does this mean that I drove 22 mph this weekend to pick-up my grandsons to bring them over to the house for an archery lesson, and then, afterward, took a Sunday nap in my workshop.

    Well . . . maybe . . . but don't call a reporter.
     
    #20 Jobsaver, Dec 16, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2013

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