March 10, 2014
En route to Honduras
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an interview with Robin Speronis, the woman in Cape Coral, Florida who Simon wrote about recently that got bullied by the local government simply because she was living off the grid.
Simon: So, Robin, you’d been living a completely self-sustainable lifestyle, unplugged from the grid, collecting your own rainwater, harnessing solar power etc. since January 2013.
Then the local authorities found out… and decided to come after you aggressively just because you weren’t plugged in to the grid.
Robin: I was writing a book about living off grid, and I also have a blog where I published a few chapters—and my story got picked up by a local Fox affiliate, because they thought what I was doing was cool and wanted to do a special report on the topic.
That special report aired on November 14 last year, and immediately the next day the local code enforcement came and placed these placards on my door that said “Do not enter, do not occupy. This property is unsafe and unfit for human habitation.”
Simon: But you had been living there for eleven months.
Robin: Right. And they decided to use the Florida statute for trespassing. It was illegal for me to be living on my own property. No notice, no hearing.
Oh, and the code that they cited on that placard said that the interior of the home was unsanitary. Of course, they’d never been inside the house.
Simon: I understand they applied some vague international building code… quite a stretch just to find some violation.
Robin: Yes, the whole code is very vague, there’s no definition of what “unsanitary” means. They didn’t want me being an example for other people, so they just tried to terrorize me. But I won’t let them.
Simon: Right. And since then you’ve taken them to court basically, and you’ve had an administrative hearing. Was that something that you pushed for or was that something that the city pushed for?
Robin: Well, my story was picked up and got a lot of media attention. Initially the city backed off, and they were even ignoring my lawyer’s calls, hoping that it would blow over.
But because I was technically still a trespasser in my own home I wouldn’t let this go away. So we had a hearing.
The city read off five pages of assorted codes that I was in violation of. I already got most of them voided. So that was a big victory.
Simon: This is so typical. These government officials look at you and decide, “We’ve got to get her. She’s doing something we don’t like.” And so they just come up with pages of senseless code violations hoping that something will stick.
It’s all about terrorizing people, making them obedient, and readily dependent on the system. And anyone that defies that is an enemy to them, someone they have to go after. So they tried to make an example out of you and terrorize you.
As I’ve written so many times before, we’re all guilty of violating some obscure law or regulation. They have criminalized –everything-. You can’t even apply for a passport anymore without being threatened with imprisonment.
I’m very glad that you didn’t cave in. Thank you Robin, this is very encouraging. Best of luck with your case in the future.