EVICTED! Costilla County Drops Hammer on RV Dwellers

by Alex Ansary – October 5th, 2015

The County of Costilla has recently ramped up enforcement of it’s ban on RV and trailers parked for more than 14 days on private land in a effort to drive away new residents. In particular, those that are at the focus of this enforcement were some of the residents that attended the September 9th, 2015 planning commission in San Luis, Colorado.

During that meeting, the residents spoke out against the county’s move towards adding regulation to the land use code. Code enforcement officers asked for the filming to be halted 20 minutes into the meeting, claiming it was illegal but then failed to provide any proof written or otherwise to back up their claim.

Although the county has backed off from their proposed changes to the land use code with regards to require septic and other utility hook ups prior to being issued a building permit, they are currently denying new residents building permits unless they currently have a septic system installed. Is this legal?

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This new under-the-table policy has complicated the lives of countless new residents that moved to the county to free themselves of overzealous government regulation. Traditionally, the local off-grid population has managed to coexist with the county unperturbed. This was in a time before the recent growth that has seemingly alarmed Costilla county.

Law enforcement has reported a sharp increase in crime, but fails to provide a crime sheet to the Denver Post.

Undersheriff Andrew Espinoza threatening attendees of the county commissioners meeting to move down the street or be arrested - Image by Michael Morris - September 15, 2015

Undersheriff Andrew Espinoza threatens attendees of the county commissioners meeting to move down the street or be arrested – Image by Michael Morris – September 15, 2015

Undersheriff Andrew Espinoza proposed an  increase to the Sheriff’s department’s budget to include riot control “non lethal” devices at this meeting.

RV Criminalization

With RV living being criminalized in a county where a  high concentration of new (and some older) residents live, there is great concern and anxiety in the high desert for the future.  Additionally, deputies with the county told Colorado Public Radio that they considered Facebook discussions with regards to documenting their activity and visits to private land may be deemed as a physical “threat.”

Others in the San Luis community have labeled the newcomers as a racist white supremacy group band of outlaws concentrated on growing weed with the county’s limited water resources and out to dump trash recklessly. The local paper ‘La Sierra‘ participated in ramping up these fears throughout the community with inaccurate slander.

With colder temperatures sure to arrive soon, the situation is going to be very challenging for those forced to leave their property. Either leave within 10 days of being issued a ticket or face a summons to court. The ridiculous expectation of setting up and breaking down camp every 14 days, even on your own property, apparently is demanded if one is to remain in the boundaries of the county.  There are many more dangers associated with winter travel. What is the county really concerned about as winter approaches? Surviving winter here is one thing. Doing so on the move is another.

In Costilla County, violating the land use code can result in jail time.  The number of days one is in jail (if found guilty) is 10 days for every day a resident remains on the land after being ticketed as explained by Manny Feliu in the video above. Fines are included if convicted.

Simply stated, new residents are directly being forced off their land if they currently do not have the finances to purchase a septic tank despite the fact that the land use code has not been changed. These actions by the county do not appear legal or even humane.

This recent crack down on new residents follows the heavy media coverage on this developing story.

(The author of this post is one of the many living in his RV that will have to move again in the coming days).