Controversial Aspen home at Burlingame Ranch sells to APCHA
Embattled resident Lee Mulcahy and his mother facing eviction
Embattled Burlingame Ranch resident Lee Mulcahy this week suffered another blow in his years-long battle with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority as the agency now owns the home he is living in, and an eviction is pending.
A court-appointed receiver acting on behalf of a defiant Mulcahy closed on the property at 53 Forge Road and sold it to APCHA for $990,558.20 on Wednesday.
Mulcahy and his 85-year-old mother, Sandy, have repeatedly stated that they will not leave the deed-restricted home they built, and violence will ensue if forced.
“I will defend liberty and freedom with my life,” he said Thursday, while adding there is ongoing litigation, his case is on appeal and he is filing an emergency motion to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay an eventual eviction.
Assistant City Manager and APCHA’s interim executive director, Diane Foster, said the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the only claims remaining in Mulcahy’s federal lawsuit are claims for damages, so the outcome of that case will not affect title to the property.
“If Mr. Mulcahy does not move out, APCHA will file an eviction action as directed by the district court,” she said via email. “We hope to take possession of the property as soon as possible.”
Mulcahy will be entitled to an eviction proceeding in court, which could take several months, said Joe Krabacher, an Aspen attorney representing the receiver in the Mulcahy sale.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said he will comply with whatever the court orders his office to do but “in a dignified, non-violent way that is best for the community,” he said.
Mulcahy, a local artist, ran afoul of APCHA rules when the agency found him out of compliance with affordable housing employment guidelines that say he must work 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.
The remedy for breaking the agency’s rules at the time was eviction for renters and a forced sale for homeowners. Now, APCHA has established a schedule of fines for such violations and a hearing officer makes determinations on how much a violator pays.
In Mulcahy’s case, APCHA sued to force the sale of the property, and Mulcahy has lost at the district court and Colorado Court of Appeals, while the Colorado and U.S. Supreme Courts refused to hear the case.
He has proposed a “peace settlement” to APCHA that includes proof that he is in compliance and works in construction, as well as pay fines, do community service, and his mother will donate $10,000 to a local nonprofit. In exchange, he wants to rent the house from APCHA.
Yet the courts have spoken and the ownership transfer has occurred.
Attached to the court order issued by Pitkin County District Court Judge Chris Seldin last month authorizing transfer of the title to Mulcahy’s home to APCHA was a $500-a-day penalty levied against him if he refuses to leave the property after the sale of the home closes.
When asked Thursday how he will pay that cost, which amounts to $15,000 a month, Mulcahy responded, “None of your business.”
The proceeds of the sale have been deposited in the district court registry in the form of a cashier’s check, and APCHA will make a claim for the payment of the penalties from those funds, according to Foster.
Meanwhile, APCHA filed a motion in November asking for just over $35,000 in attorney’s fees in the case.
Krabacher said his firm is preparing for a similar motion to collect attorney fees.
If the judge grants attorney fees be paid, it will come out of the money being held in the court’s registry.
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In an effort to try and combat the highest COVID-19 incidence rate in the state, law enforcement officials in Pitkin County said Thursday they will introduce a stick to what has previously been a carrot-based approach to public health order enforcement.