EL PASO COUNTY — "The campers, the garbage, the random traffic." Charlene Smith is not happy with what is happening at one of the houses in her eastern El Paso County neighborhood. Garbage and junk keep increasing outside the house and multiple camping trailers outside the house appear to have people living in them. "The campers showed up and people started moving into the campers in front of the house, shortly, about the time when Springs started saying no more campers on the road, then we start seeing them out in our area."
She has made many reports to El Paso County Code Enforcement and the Sheriff’s Office. "I've been trying to be patient. I'll be honest I haven't been completely patient.” She says she has gotten “conflicting information” from the two agencies and wonders if anything will be done.
"In this case it does appear they're lived in, the slides are out, we can see extension cords coming and going,” said El Paso County Code Enforcement, Supervisor, Mindy Madden, “We're not questioning that's a violation." Madden says you can store campers on your property, but living in them is not allowed.
She says her office has received multiple complaints about this property from more than one neighbor. Action is underway, but it is a long process. “So, to the public, that looks like we’re not doing anything.” Investigators go to the property to determine if there are violations. They document it on camera. A notice is sent to the property owner and they are given two weeks to respond. I they do they can appeal. If not, the case is sent to the County Attorney for review. For further actions the case goes to civil court. "Of course, it depends on when the courts available to hear our cases. So sometimes a court date is set out a couple months." It means the code violation can go unresolved for months.
Colorado’s growth is an additional factor. “For 2019 we’ve had over 900 complaints that three officers responded to,” said Madden. That is more complaints than all of last year and it only the first week of August.
“It doesn’t mean that it’s okay for people to come out to our area and do as they please,” said Smith. She “loves” living in the rural part of the county. She will keep pushing until the issue is resolved.