Widow Threatened with Eviction for Going 'Off the Grid,' Shunning City Services

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | March 7, 2014 | 12:55 PM EST

A Florida widow is being threatened with eviction from her own home by city code enforcement officials as a result of her efforts to live sustainably "off the grid," without relying on city water and electrical sources, the legal group representing the woman announced today.

Insisting that Robin Speronis' home in Cape Coral, Fla., is "unsafe" because it is not hooked up to city water and electrical resources, city officials have ordered Speronis to hook her home up to city water, electrical, and sewer outlets, despite the fact that she has been self-sustainable for more than a year.

A day after Speronis was interviewed for a story about living "off the grid," a city code enforcement official came to her home and issued her an eviction notice, deeming her home "unsafe/unfit for human habitation and occupancy" because she was living there without utilities.

"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," John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, which has come to Speronis' defense.

For many months now, Robin Speronis, who doesn't have a refrigerator, oven, running water or electricity in her home, has lived self-sustainably through the use of solar panels for her electricity needs and rainwater collection for her water supply. Speronis cooks on a propane camping stove, runs her electronics on solar-charged batteries, showers using a camping shower, and collects rainwater to fill the tank of her toilet and flush the waste. The city official reached this conclusion without ever having set foot inside Speronis' home or carrying out any kind of inspection.

The Rutherford Institute says it will continue to fight for Speronis' right to live off the grid, despite a magistrate's ruling that she is required by city codes to hook up to the city's water system:

On February 20, 2014, Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin determined that Speronis was not guilty of violating the city codes requiring electrical and sewer systems, but that she was required under the codes to hook up to the city's water system. In reaching this decision, Eskin admitted that portions of the code "might be obsolete," that "reasonableness and code requirements don't always go hand-in-hand," and that societal and technological developments might suggest that it's time for a review of code ordinances. Nonetheless, the Magistrate ordered Speronis to comply with the faulty and inherently conflicting code provisions by the end of March or face eviction.

City officials have since capped Speronis' access to the sewer line so she can no longer use it for waste removal unless she pays for water service, which she does not use. Speronis, who lived in the woods for seven months, plans to use an alternative toilet and dispose of her waste in a sanitary way, rather than be forced to use the city's sewer system.