Tangled in the Red Tape of Bureaucracy

do not cross

When you are a product of your own thinking, you find out how just how flawed those thoughts can be.

I’m not talking about being a bad person, I’m talking about instant gratification. I’m a child of the 70’s, the last of the baby boomer generation. We were taught that you can have and do anything you set your mind to.

While this isn’t wrong, I know we can become what we think we can, or what we think about we bring about. No, what I’m talking about is waiting, saving and working towards a goal that doesn’t come automatically.

We naively stepped into this project thinking we could get it done in a matter of months, now we are approaching our second year of living here in our camper. I had accepted things as they were, this will take time, money, and lots of patience.

A month ago we were thrown another curve ball. One bright sunny morning a pickup with a county logo drove up our driveway. I was curious because we hadn’t called for an inspection, and the county assessor had already visited in January.

I greeted the man, who was all business. He introduced himself as the compliance officer for the county. He started in by informing me that someone had complained about the tires on our property. He looked over at the building site with seeming contempt, asking me if the county had approved us using tires to build with. I assured him they had.

The conversation went this way back and forth for a while. He intimated that living in our camper and using our septic for black water disposal wasn’t allowed.

After a little while, he eased up and told me we could probably work something out. He said to expect a formal letter in the mail and we would have to respond within a month.

I was very upset and texted the hubby at work right away. He laughed it off and told me not to worry about it. Then when the letter arrived two days later, he got upset. We called our attorney, just to see what our rights were.
We met with her a few days later and she advised us to comply as best we can and make a plan for the rest.

We had let our building permit expire and when we called the county building department, they said to wait until we were closer to getting an inspection before we renewed it. Obviously, that wasn’t sound advice.

We have renewed our permit, and tried to contact the engineer about the septic, etc. I wrote a letter of explanation to the compliance officer yesterday.
All of this to say, just because you are off grid, doesn’t mean you are out of the tangle of red tape of bureaucracy, in fact you are under more scrutiny.

We are slow, but we do learn from our mistakes. I’m hoping that anyone following this and dreaming of an earthship of their own will learn as well. I had thought we were far enough out of town that no one would really care what we were up to. Apparently, I was wrong.

Until the time where people stay out of other people’s business, we will play nice. Dave always reminds me to let love be our guide. Sometimes I would like to show people that love right up close and personal.

I’m reminded constantly that words matter. I wanted to lash out. I wanted to retaliate to whomever “tattled” on us, but I am calmer now. I am excited that things are moving again. We have been forced to take positive action.

“A gentle answer turns way wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Peace and happy sailing. V

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9 Responses to Tangled in the Red Tape of Bureaucracy

  1. Having been involved in Earthships for quite a while now I have heard a lot of stories about officials and such. It’s unfortunate that you had someone complain to the county instead of just coming to talk to you. I call that the “I’m telling Mom” situation.

    I know another couple building an Earthship who’s inspector decided that he could charge them pretty much what he wanted to give them their permit and they ended up paying $6k for a two bedroom house plan. To top it off, that inspector, when he comes out to their build site, doesn’t even get out of his car. He just fills in some paper work and gets them to sign it.

    I’m glad that you have that hurdle worked out.

    • vickieknob says:

      I haven’t told you the county is requiring Michael Reynolds to sign off on certain elements so we will have to fly him up here to inspect those. This will add at least $2000-$4000 more to our budget.

      • That is terrible. Although, at least Colorado is only one state over from New Mexico. It would cost much more if you lived in Hawaii or Canada.

      • vickieknob says:

        That’s true. We will have to save up just to get him to fly up here.

      • kramnitsua says:

        Sorry for the unwarranted hyper regulation. What a racket. Suggest to the County that this inspection can take place through video. Mr Reynolds can “inspect” without having to be there physically. all for the sake to save and direct your investment.

      • vickieknob says:

        Yes great idea! We were thinking Still Pictures But Thats Better

      • vickieknob says:

        Great idea

  2. Dwayne Reeder says:

    I don’t blame you. I would be upset myself. First of all I would be disappointed in whoever turned me in (which neighbor) and second I would feel so frustrated with the county that I would have my attorney deal with them completely.

    It sounds to me that you need to start keeping a notebook with times and dates and people that you speak to! It’s sad that we live in this kind of world now!

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