Judgment day coming soon for Mulcahy’s housing fight
Local gadfly Lee Mulcahy’s standoff with the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority is set to go before a judge after a series of sparring legal briefs.
The housing authority last month requested Judge Chris Seldin to issue a summary judgment in the case, which would put an end to the matter without going to trial.
The authority is seeking a court order to force Mulcahy to sell his Burlingame home. Its suit, filed in December in Pitkin County District Court, claims Mulcahy is ineligible to own the government-regulated home because he has failed to prove that he works 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.
Besides not working full time locally, the housing authority has accused Mulcahy of renting out his property without the authority’s consent and living elsewhere — both of which violate the agency’s regulations.
Mulcahy has filed legal documents claiming he has gotten into compliance by getting a job and recently securing a certificate of occupancy for his home, which he has been building over the years. He also has held steadfast that he has worked as a full-time artist since he bought the property, while filling up his extra time with odd jobs in Aspen.
According to housing authority attorney Thomas Smith, however, Mulcahy’s efforts to get in compliance have come too late.
“I understand he’s unhappy about the situation,” Smith said Wednesday. “But it’s not just a technical, procedural issue, because the violations were substantial and (the housing authority) feels this unit needs to get into the hands of someone who complies.”
Mulcahy is representing himself in the case without an attorney. He couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
Last week he filed a legal brief lambasting the housing authority’s bid to have him sell his home.
“Their pleadings are replete with half-truths, misstatements and convoluted reasoning in an attempt to distract this court from questioning why Plaintiff waited too long to enforce their rights,” Mulcahy wrote.
Mulcahy bought the property, which is designated for the authority’s resident occupied program, for $150,000 in October 2006, property records show.
Mulcahy’s recent pleading claims the authority could have tried to force him to sell the property before the house was built, but waited until it was erected.
“Then, in 2015, with Mr. Mulcahy’s home all but complete, Plaintiff saw an easily achievable sale and commenced the present action. Plaintiff waited too long,” Mulcahy wrote.
Smith said Mulcahy was given multiple opportunities to demonstrate he works full time in the county.
“The long and short of it is he was given numerous opportunities to come into compliance,” Smith said.
Smith also said if Mulcahy is court-ordered to sell the home, he won’t be getting a bad deal.
“We’re not saying he forfeits the value of the property,” Smith said. “We’re not trying to punish him in that sense.”
The three-bedroom, 21/2-bath, single-family home is 1,912 square feet, according to property records. The county Assessor’s Office most recently gave it an actual value of $752,200.
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The Youth Art Expo will run Feb. 27 through March 14 at the Aspen Art Museum, showcasing work by young artists from Aspen to Rifle.