Home / Be The Change / ‘Camping’ on Your Own Land is Now Illegal — Govt Waging War on Off-Grid Living

‘Camping’ on Your Own Land is Now Illegal — Govt Waging War on Off-Grid Living


Costilla County, CO — Across the U.S., local zoning officials are making it increasingly difficult for people to go off the grid, in some instances threatening people with jail time for collecting rainwater or not hooking into local utilities.

As zoning laws have increasingly targeted the off-grid lifestyle, many have moved to the Southwestern U.S. as an escape from overzealous zoning officials.

In Costilla County, Colorado, there has been a major influx of off-grid residents to the San Luis Valley. The combination of lax zoning regulations, cheap property, and an already thriving community of self-reliant off-grid homesteaders has led to many new residents.

The off-grid lifestyle, enjoyed by an estimated 800 people, is now being threatened as county officials have recently made moves to essentially regulate and license the lifestyle into oblivion.

Tensions boiled over during a county commissioners’ meeting in San Louis, Colorado, devolving into a shouting match between homesteaders and police. One of the major points of contention is the county’s attempt to ban camping on your own property, in an effort to force the off-grid homesteaders back onto the grid.

“We are residents who have come to live off the grid. It’s all our land.” … “These are harsh economic times. We have nowhere to go,” twenty-year resident Paul Skinner said.

“We’ve been regulated out of life,” homesteader Robin Rutan told Colorado Public Radio. “I came here because I couldn’t live by the codes [in other regions].”

The county, which requires residents to have a camping permit to live in an RV, “small house” or other camp style home, has started to simply refuse the renewal of these permits.

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This is obviously a major problem for homesteaders, who often live in such accommodations while building their permanent residents.

“They started enforcing the changes before they were actually made,” resident Chloe Everhart said.

Everhart said she performed due diligence prior to buying her land, with one of the most important aspects of the plan being a 90-day camping permit. Without a 90-day permit, camping on residential plots is only allowed for 14 days per every three months.

But just as Everhart was arriving, the board of commissioners instructed the planning and zoning commission to no longer issue camping permits.

In spite of her best efforts, Everhart is now an outlaw.

County land use administrator Matt Valdez disputes the claims that the county is trying to regulate people’s lifestyles out of existence. He says that his office has discretion to deny camping permits under existing code and claims that too many new residents were habitually renewing permits meant to be temporary.

“We’re not trying to drive people off their property,” Valdez said.

Valdez said he simply wants to make sure already established rules are followed for aesthetic and safety reasons.

The vilification of people who choose to live an alternative lifestyle is extremely commonplace in modern America.

While there may be legitimate issues that need to be addressed, people have a right to use land that they own in the manner they see fit. To use the technicalities of the law to essentially evict people from land they own reeks of tyrannical overreach and oppression of personal liberty.

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Update: The county has dropped it’s planned zoning changes under increased public scrutiny, but they continue to refuse to issue 90-day camping permits to the off-grid land owners.

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPressNews and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu

  • infuqisane

    I understand the frustrations but there significant issues. Septic not handled correctly can impact ground water. Also, unregulated use of ground water or rain barrels along with bad clearing of ground can impact the rest of society. Most if not all states have constitutional provisions on usage of water because upstream people can impact downstream people as well as states rights to regulate traverse streams and other sources. All one has to do is search the many many court rulings. BUT I realize that other selfish reasons are by cities and counties like forcing people to use garbage service, power service and such because they want the people to SUBSIDIZE THEM.

    • Shyloh Campbell

      I think we can easily regulate how waste is handled to make sure it is properly done, but cities don’t want to make regulations to help people succeed in this endeavor. They want to stop it because if people live like this no one makes any money… and that is what they don’t like.

    • [email protected]

      if unscrupulous water usage and ground water contamination are the issue, we had better get busy telling businesses in the area to lock it up!!

      You can put quite a few homes on septic systems without harming groundwater. Most people who live off grid are very sensitive to the impact on the environment, since they rely on it more than most of us.

      This is all about money, simple. Taxes. Owning land is no protection from being fleeced and in this day and age, the government really doesn’t see land as belonging to an individual.

      I’m not arguing with you, your comments just sparked me to respond. Have a great day.

  • Kathleen Biesbrock DeWildt

    Just leave them be…

  • allen

    no septic no camp

  • AmericaTheBroken

    I’m not even a libertarian, but even I think it is horribly, deeply wrong to force people to be on grid. If they create a legitimate environmental problem by fouling a waterway then maybe I can see restricting them, but if they can do it without causing pollution, then they should definitely be allowed. Basically, the government is trying to force them to be actual homeless people! And homeless people are super expensive for society. These people are relatively cheap by comparison if allowed to just live off grid.

  • Luke Vaan Horne

    Does anyone else think a zombie apocalypse is starting to look like a good idea????? The government is out of control.

  • Jane Turtle

    Who the he** do they think they are? It is not up to the government to tell us how to live. We pay them. But that is just it. They can’t tax us tons of taxes if we don’t pay utilities and what not. The government thinks we owe them a living. What gives them the right to tell others how to live. Were they given power by a God or something? We were all born to this planet. We should not have to be enslaved to a job that over works us and pays us crap while having so many bills we can not pay them. Who the he** wan’ts to live like that. That is slavery. That is basically what they intend to do. Enslave everyone.

    • Rich Gagnon

      Good job, you hit the nail on the head with this comment! I absolutely agree! YES, they want to and they have already enslaved everyone, now they’re scrambling to keep it that way because of the fact that everyone is finally becoming aware of their charade…

  • Donald Bezzina

    Growing your own produce is also illegal- the big corporations want to ensure we depend on the sh”” they make to eat ourselves into sickness.

  • Arthur Brooks

    Where I live the code enforcement department has coupled with the police department. I call it a police state in the former land of the “free” and home of the “coward”.

  • They CAN tell you what to do, because you do not own any land, no one can actually OWN land in the US. http://humansarefree.com/2016/08/proof-that-you-do-not-legally-own-any.html

    Also, they feel that legally, they OWN YOU also, and they have some pretty fancy legal paperwork to back it up. http://www.viewzone.com/collateralx.html

    So, if you want to really be “free” you’ll have to leave that country and move to another one … IF they let you leave that is.

    And before you ask, I am up in Canada.

    • Greg

      Where everyone has already cow-towed to big government and loss of personal rights.

  • FarpointRelay

    I suggest people read laws carefully, there are always loopholes to find… One of the biggest being there might be laws against certain things, but nobody really knows who is supposed to enforce them, and forcing the sheriff (that handles criminal offenses) to do something when it is a civil matter is illegal in itself…

    But in the end if you don’t like the clowns that are making these crazy laws, vote them out of office, or better yet run against them!


      i only think you should be required to comply with permits if you will be renting the property if your living on your property that whole aesthetic thing to me is a bunch of bullshit you are going to tell me what types of house to build on my property and if i can even build a house just like state taxes bunch bullshit i already pay taxes its income tax w2 its a percentage of my income my id with address is supposed to be a census to know which county i reside in to disperse federal taxes to these municipalities according to population per region just like the whole unsafe to live in a rv on my property how is it a safety issue oh becuase i park it in the driveway the hurricane will not take it it the same risk regardless of if im living in it or not to the public

  • L Morales

    I myself have personal experience with the ” government “. We purchased our bare land property with the intent to build a small off grid home. We were forced to move from our old home & move onto our newly purchased land. We purchased a small shed & have converted into a tiny house. Being conscious of our waste & how we were going to dispose of it. For christ sake I have a $1000 composting toilet, what more do they want right? Well after being here for about a month, one afternoon we were awaken to loud yelling ” Sheriff dept.”. Opened the door to find the building inspector & 4 law enforcement officers strapped with AR15’s ready. We were told we were not compliant with the county regs. & we had 10 days to have all building permit info. on his desk, or we would have to vacate the property. We were in the process of trying to find local contractors & someone to do our building blue prints. We had to prove that we had the deed & other docs. that we actually owned the land. Had to provide names of the local people we were working with. The ONLY reason they even came onto our property that day was because they saw we had a small greenhouse & we were growing MMJ & vegetables. We were also compliant according to CO. mmj growing laws. They had been at my neighbors & busted them for illegal activity so they just assumed & were on a “bust high”
    thinking they were all big & bad ass. But,after providing proof of ownership their attitudes deflated!!!!!! Since that day we are all “buds” now. We still get surprise visits from the building inspector just to make sure we are progressing in our home development.
    This whole experience dealing with local & county personal & the “laws” that are set has been B***S***.
    It’s not been pleasurable in the least. This is something that should have some excitement for a new land owner!! Instead was turned into a nightmare for us!!!!!!!!