Off Grid living is illegal

SUBHEAD: Court magistrate rules that living off-grid is illegal in Cape Coral, Forida.

By Daniel Jennings on 22 February 2014 for Off Grid News -

Image above: Example of an off-grid "tiny" house with garden. From (

Living off the grid is illegal in Cape Coral, Florida, according to a court ruling Thursday. Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that the city’s codes allow Robin Speronis to live without utility power but she is still required to hook her home to the city’s water system. Her alternative source of power must be approved by the city, Eskin said.

As previously reported in Off The Grid News, Speronis has been fighting the city of Cape Coral since November when a code enforcement officer tried to evict her from her home for living without utilities. The city contends that Speronis violated the International Property Maintenance Code by relying on rain water instead of the city water system and solar panels instead of the electric grid.

“It was a mental fistfight,” Speronis’ attorney Todd Allen said of Eskin’s review of his clients’ case. “There’s an inherent conflict in the code.”

Part of the conflict: She must hook up to the water system, although officials acknowledge she does not have to use it.

Speronis told Off The Grid News in February she hopes to win her case and set a precedent for others in her situation. After court Thursday, Speronis told Off The Grid News that she actually won on two of three counts, although she acknowledged her legal battle is far from over.

“But what happens in the courtroom is much less important than touching people’s hearts and minds,” she said. “I think that we are continuing to be successful in doing just that and I am so pleased — there is hope! [Friday] morning, as I took my two hour walk, there was a young man, unknown to me, who drove by me, tooted his horn and said, ‘Robin, congratulations on your victory yesterday, keep up the fight and God bless you.’ That is beautiful.”

Magistrate Admits Code is Unreasonable
Eskin spent several hours reviewing the case and admitted that the code might be obsolete, the local Press-News newspaper reported.

“Reasonableness and code requirements don’t always go hand-in-hand … given societal and technical changes (that) requires review of code ordinances,” Eskin was quoted as saying.
Eskin’s remarks indicate that he views the code as both obsolete and unreasonable and in need of change. Yet he felt he had to enforce it.

The city did overstep its authority and may have violated due process procedures, Eskin noted. He felt that the city had not given Speronis proper notice of violations and ruled that some of the charges against her were unfounded.

“I am in compliance,” Speronis told the News-Press. “I’m in compliance of living … you may have to hook-up, but you don’t have to use it. Well, what’s the point?”

Case is Unresolved
Speronis disconnected all the utilities from her modest home in Cape Coral for an experiment in off-the-grid living some time ago. City officials ignored her activities until she went public and discussed them with Liza Fernandez, a reporter for a local TV station. A code enforcement officer designated Speronis’s home as uninhabitable and gave her an eviction notice a day after the piece aired.

The widow and former real estate agent now has two choices. She can either restore her hookup to the water system by the end of March or appeal Eskin’s ruling to the courts.

It is not known what action the city will take but city officials told Fernandez that they would be willing to let Speronis stay in her home if conditions are “sanitary.” At the hearing, Eskin noted that city officials have not actually been in Speronis’s home to make that determination.

The International Property Maintenance Code is used in communities throughout the United States and Canada. The code states that properties are unsafe to live in if they do not have electricity and running water. Speronis has electricity and water. She gets running water by collecting rainwater and electricity from solar panels.

Off-Grid widow evicted

By Mchael Faust on 16 April 2014 for Off Grid News -

A Florida woman who is at the center of a legal and political battle over off-grid living is now living in a tent in her backyard after the city kicked her out of her house, Off The Grid News has learned.
The city of Cape Coral, Florida, got a warrant and inspected Robin Speronis’ home and then posted a notice to vacate, giving her until Thursday to do so.

Speronis lives off-the-grid and does not use utility water or electricity, and maintains that her house is as sanitary as any home in the neighborhood. Her fight for the right to live self-sustainably has captivated the off-the-grid community.

The Rutherford Institute, a legal group, is representing her in her legal fight.

Speronis tells Off The Grid News that she is essentially moving to tents in her backyard, thanks to help from her neighbors and friends.

“My community has been supporting me and yesterday donated two tents and other supplies to create an outdoor living area in my backyard,” she told Off The Grid News via email Wednesday. “I have a six-person tent and a four-person tent.

As I have said before, I’ll let The Rutherford Institute do the legal fighting and I’ll do the living with the support of the community. We are all so powerful and we CAN create a beautiful world that no government can take away from us.”

Cape Coral uses what is called the International Property Maintenance Code, which the city says requires all residents to be hooked up to on-grid water and electricity. Speronis says she has the right to refuse both.

In February a judge ruled that Speronis must hook up to the city’s water system, although he said she did not have to use city electricity. The city dug up her yard and capped her sewer in March, an action that violated state law. They also took her dogs.

The city’s code enforcement posted the vacate notice over the weekend.

“I am such a threat to the city of Cape Coral that again they’ve had to make me, technically, legally, homeless. I am technically homeless right now,” Speronis told a local station, FOX 4. “They did enter my house. They were very cocky. They were very condescending,” Speronis added.

Speronis is a Christian, and said her faith has sustained her during the tough times.

“The Greek word for church, Ekklesia, means community,” she said. “I am Greek Orthodox. I am now living the truth that I believed when I started my urban off-grid adventure — that is you can’t live off-grid in an urban setting unless you have community — church.

“How appropriate for Holy Week,” she said, referencing the assistance she’s received.

Losing her dogs was tough, and she’s cried a lot over it, Speronis said. She said she felt God telling her not to worry about her dogs and that “special angels” were watching over them.
“Still, I do have to go through the necessary grieving process,” she said.

Her case appears headed to federal court after the Rutherford Institute — a nationally known civil liberties legal organization — got involved in early March. The case could set a precedent for off-the-gridders nationwide.

“The application of these burdensome rules, regulations, and inspection requirements against individuals attempting to live independent and environmentally sustainable lifestyles sends the wrong message: that citizens must be dependent on the state, whether or not they wish to be,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. “This case is emblematic of a growing problem in America today, namely, that bureaucrats and local governments will go to great lengths to perpetuate dependence and compliance with the nanny state.”

Speronis uses solar panels for electricity and collects rainwater for water. She cooks on a propane stove and keeps clean with a camping shower. She uses an alternative toilet system.

Off-Grid widow jailed
By Mchael Faust on 10 July 2014 for Off Grid News -

Robin Speronis’ story captivated nationwide attention earlier this year – an off-grid widow ordered by her city to hook up to public electricity and water or face eviction.

She stood her ground and inspired thousands of people, and she even celebrated a partial court victory in February. But the city didn’t stop targeting her, and in May she was arrested and placed in jail, where she spent a month behind bars. And just as quickly, the district attorney dropped the charges and she was released, no questions asked.

Speronis is this week’s guest on Off The Grid Radio, giving us the details about her arrest and legal fight you won’t hear anywhere else. Her off-grid battle for freedom is our battle, and she tells us:
  • Whether off-grid citizens are now being targeted.
  • Why her month in jail only served to encourage her.
  • How her off-grid battle impacts all of us.
The cruel, mean-spirited bureaucrats even took her dogs. If you’re a homesteader, off-gridder or simply a liberty-loving American, this is one episode you need to hear!

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 27:05 — 31.0MB) 

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