Lee Mulcahy Park Petition

Lee Mulcahy sets up an impromptu lounge at the edge of the park behind city hall on a recent afternoon as he protests his likely upcoming eviction from his employee housing residence. A painting that Mulcahy, who argues that he qualifies for employee housing based on his work as an artist, left in the area unattended was picked up by the parks department, but was later returned to him by an Aspen police officer.

Lee Mulcahy, as is his wont, is doing everything in his power to not lose his Burlingame home, including petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court and collecting signatures around Aspen, though the names will have no bearing on the decision to force him to sell the residence, a housing official said Thursday.

After the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority in 2015 deemed that he had not complied with affordable-housing requirements on full-time employment and other issues, Mulcahy has lost court decisions at the district and appellate court levels. In late April, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear his case. He said he intends to try to bring the matter before the highest court in the land, though he acknowledges his chances of the august body hearing his case are quite slim.

Asked how he would be able to show that he had, in fact, worked the 1,500 hours required of all residents of employee housing to stay in their units, Mulcahy said he keeps a journal.

“In the journal, it shows the hours I worked on art,” he said, calling such efforts “absolutely” a job. “If Aspen starts throwing out artists because you don’t make enough money, shame on them. This town was built around the arts.”

The journal and other employment records are ready to be presented to a mediator, he said.

The petition he is asking people to sign asks that they support “a peaceful resolution to allow a public hearing with an independent mediator on compliance as a professional artist … so the [Mulcahy family doesn’t] lose the house they built.”

He said since starting his effort a few days ago, collecting names in front of City Market and city hall, 300 or so people have signed the form. He hopes to get over 1,000 signatures.

But APCHA, as it has all along, maintains Mulcahy had multiple chances to address the compliance infractions, including requesting a hearing in front of the housing authority board and appealing.

APCHA executive director Mike Kosdrosky said Thursday that the signatures will not impact the board’s view that Mulcahy must sell his home. When that will happen is unknown. Questions about whether a district court judge — in lieu of the appellate and state high court decisions — must issue a ruling or directive reaffirming its initial finding before the authority sends the listing contract for Mulcahy to sign were referred to APCHA attorney Tom Smith. Smith was out of town Thursday and unavailable to comment. Such a ruling on the district court level had not been made as of Thursday.

But simply trying to bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court likely will not stay the case, unlike what happened in district and appellate cases,  Aspen City Attorney Jim True said on Thursday.

“It is my understanding that, unless the U.S. Supreme Court issues a stay, there is not an automatic stay of the activities of the state court,” he said.

Which makes sense, said Andrea Bryan, assistant city attorney, because, otherwise, scores of litigants would simply try that to delay their cases. The state judicial system, on the other hand, allows for automatic stays.

APCHA declined to to send the listing paperwork until those lower courts had weighed in, allowing Mulcahy to stay in the home that he says he and his family built largely themselves. The purchase price of the 1,900-square-foot residence could range from $700,000 to nearly $1 million.

 

chad@aspendailynews.com

Contibuting Editor