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

By Claire Bernish

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.

Claire Bernish is a staff writer and reporter for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up – follow Claire’s work at our Facebook or Twitter.

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

  1. The US Constitution, the supreme Law of this land that ALL who serve within our governments are required to be Oath bound to, requires all who serve within our government to PROTECT the people’s property, and it is one of the main reasons for our governments creation. It IS an inalienable right of the people which means it is above the authority of any who serve within our governments except to PROTECT it as required.

    “Right of protecting property, declared inalienable by constitution, is not mere right to protect it by individual force, but right to protect it by law of land, and force of body politic.” Billings v. Hall (1857), 7 C. 1.

    “Right to possess and protect property is not more clearly protected by constitution, than right to acquire it. Right to acquire is right to use proper means to attain end; and use of such means, cannot be prohibited by legislature, except peace and safety of state require it.” In Re Newman (1858), 9 C. 502.

    “Constitutional guarantee securing to every person right of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property refers to right to possess absolutely and unqualifiedly every species of property recognized by law and all
    rights incidental thereto, including right to dispose of such property in such manner as he pleases.” People v. Davenport (1937), 21 C.A. 292, 69 P.2d 396.

    “As general rule men have natural right to do anything which their inclinations may suggest, if it be not evil in itself, and in no way impairs the rights of others.” In Re Newman (1858), 9 C. 502.

    “To say that one may not defend his own property is usurpation of power by legislature.” O’Connell v. Judnich (1925), 71 C.A.386, 235 P. 664.

    “Right of property antedates all constitutions. Every person has right to enjoy his property and improve it according to his own desires in any way consistent with rights of others.” People v. Holder (1921), 53 C.A. 45, 199 P. 832.

    “Right of property is invaded if owner is not at liberty to contract with others respecting manner in which and terms on which his property shall be improved.” People v. Holder (1921), 53 C.A. 45, 199 P. 832.

    “But whenever the operation and effect of any general regulation is to extinguish or destroy that which by law of the land is the property of any person, so far as it has that effect, it is unconstitutional and void. Thus, a law is considered as being a deprivation of property within the meaning of this constitutional guaranty if it deprives an owner of one of its essential attributes, destroys its value, restricts or interrupts its common, necessary, or profitable use, hampers the owner in the application of it to the purposes of trade, or imposes conditions upon the right to hold or use it and thereby seriously impairs its value.” (Statute) 167 Am. Jur. 2d, Constitutional Law, Section 369.

    “Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, -‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;’ and to ‘secure,’ not grant or create, these rights, governments are instituted. That property which a man has honestly acquired he retains full control of, subject to these limitations: first, that he shall not use it to his neighbor’s injury, and that does not mean that he must use it for his neighbor’s benefit: second, that if he devotes it to a public use, he gives to the public a right to control that use; and third, that whenever the public needs require, the public may take it upon payment of due compensation.” Budd v. People of State of New York, 143 U.S. 517 (1892)

  2. I’m sure IF HE TRIED he could get a lawyer who would gladly force his point on the county govt. Of course the lawyers fees would be paid by the govt once they lose but otherwise he should just IGNORE them, retain an attorney and do what he wants as far as building his home and or improving his property. If that was me I’d never leave MY property unless I wanted to. Anyway this is a great example of more govt over-reach and will need the services of a lawyer to make HIS point. Nor would I be surprised if some property rights freedom organization would take up his cause to further…theirs.

  3. Neighbors SUCK!

  4. The problem all revolves around the fact that Mr. Smith does not own the property he paid for with his own “money.”

    “…Property implies ownership and ownership entitles the owner to do with his property whatever he wishes, provided it does not damage others:

    ‘…the power of ownership must be absolute. It is black and white; I own a thing or I don’t. I may own a part of it, but there is no such thing as a part of ownership. Christians have a commonplace saying that every man’s home is his castle. He is king in his own residence; he may go to any lengths to stop a trespass; soldiers, in the United States, may not be quartered in his home without his consent; and not even a policeman may enter without a proper warrant issued under careful safeguards. If a man really owns his property, he may refuse to sell it, even to a king, as Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab. He may dispose of it at his death by will; he may develop it or not as he sees fit, and within the limits of it there isn’t much he can’t do. The same conditions apply to personal property and money.’15

    “Three attributes distinguish a property owner:

    ‘”A good or an asset is defined to be private property if, and only if, three distinct sets of rights are associated with its ownership. First, the exclusive right to use (or to decide how to use) the good may be viewed as the right to exclude other individuals from its use. Second is the exclusive right to receive income generated by the use of the good. Third, the full right to transfer, or freely ‘alienate,’ its ownership includes the right to enter into contracts and to choose their form.’16….

    “If a property owner does not have total control over his land, he does not own it. No middle ground exists. It is oxymoronic to say you own something when you do not have absolute control over it. Because the government maintains the right and has the power to tax and confiscate property, as well as exercise eminent domain, the property most people think they own is not really theirs at all.

    “That government can and does exercise eminent domain anytime and anywhere it chooses proves it has stolen title to all the land in America. The only difference between King Ahab’s theft of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21:1-16 and the Constitutional Republic’s theft under the guise of taxation and eminent domain is that today’s government is more sophisticated and all-inclusive in its methods….”

    For more, see online Chapter 14 “Amendment 5: Constitutional vs. Biblical Judicial Protection” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 14.

    Then find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared
    to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

  5. You broke rule number one for a progressive all controlling government, you became self sufficient, that can’t be allowed.
    They need you on the street so they can wail about their compassion as you sleep in a box in winter.

  6. The nosy neighbor needs someone to set him straight…look at the trouble he’s caused.

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