Per an eviction notice delivered by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Lee Mulcahy and his mother Sandy Mulcahy have until 10 a.m. on Jan. 21 to vacate the premises, lest they face forcible entry from authorities.
It’s the latest in a yearslong saga between the Mulcahys and the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. On Dec. 9, APCHA became the official owner of the property at 53 Forge Road, the result of a June 3, 2016, Pitkin County District Court ruling in a lawsuit between the entity and Lee Mulcahy, which required the listing of the property for sale. Three years later, in November 2019, after much legal back-and-forth, Denver-based Cordes & Co. was appointed as the receiver for the property, to facilitate the sale and deliver the Burlingame Ranch property to APCHA’s possession at closing.
That purchase occurred March 12 last year, per the initial demand for possession.
APCHA sued Mulcahy in December of 2015, maintaining that Mulcahy, an artist, failed to meet the housing authority’s requirement that residents living in deed-restricted properties prove they work at least 1,500 hours per year in Pitkin County. Mulcahy continues to contend that he did offer that proof, just not within a changed deadline, and the housing authority declined to review his records. That argument has so far failed at every judicial level.
Mulcahy’s limited-capacity attorney, Denver-based Jordan Porter, has said repeatedly there have been myriad procedural inconsistencies that have violated his client’s rights and thus, essentially, undermine APCHA’s entire case.
“In general, at the administrative level, APCHA was required to wait a full 60 days between issuing its first notice of compliance and the final notice of violation. APCHA violated its own guidelines, prematurely accelerated the notice of violation, and issued it only 39 days into the 60-day waiting period. This acceleration occurred during the specific time period Lee was known to be traveling,” Porter said in an email Tuesday.
But APCHA attorney Tom Smith has dismissed that accusation, alleging rather that Mulcahy has intentionally clogged the court’s proceedings in the case to delay the sale of the property. Now, that sale has happened, and the Mulcahys have a week to move out.
That’s not likely to happen, however, at least not according to Lee Mulcahy.
“We’re not leaving,” he said flatly Wednesday.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t recognize APCHA as the owner of the property — he has offered to rent it back from the housing authority, as well as pay a fine or work community service, behind the scenes in emailed proposals to Smith and city officials. Those proposals have not been entertained.
“The APCHA Board has already rejected that settlement offer. You have been told numerous times that APCHA will not consider any more settlement offers,” Smith wrote in a Dec. 4 email to Mulcahy.
“There is no case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court,” he continued, alluding to Mulcahy’s claims that not every legal dispute has been settled in the matter at every level. “That court has twice rejected your petitions for it to consider your case. APCHA does not agree to a stay in any court. … All state and federal courts have rejected your efforts to overturn the decision in this case.”
For Mulcahy’s part, he declined to “answer for” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, who ultimately would be responsible for enforcing the eviction. DiSalvo has said on the record several times that he will not entertain a scenario that is not a peaceful one. That was still the case Wednesday evening.
“I’m still committed to peaceful, and I hope the Mulcahys are, as well. I think that’s a square deal — we did our job,” DiSalvo said, referencing serving the eviction papers by posting them at the property.
DiSalvo said he wasn’t sure at what date or time actual eviction proceedings would occur, but he assumed it would not be Jan. 21.
“Even as a junior deputy, I would intentionally not read the papers. My only job is to give them to the person whose name is on them,” he said. “I assume, like most evictions, that there will be challenges to the eviction. A lot of people challenge their eviction — this is not a Lee Mulcahy thing.”
Mulcahy lamented Wednesday that APCHA had moved ahead with serving an eviction notice during the COVID-19 pandemic and said he’d filed a writ of certiorari with the Colorado Supreme Court to further review the case.
“It’s a complete failure of justice by APCHA to the community they serve, to throw an 85-year-old out in the middle of a pandemic, before she can get a vaccine,” Mulcahy said Wednesday. “Shame on them.”
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a moratorium on evictions until Jan. 31, Gov. Jared Polis declined to do the same, ending the state’s eviction moratorium with the end of 2020.