Don't just stand there -- squat!

Leave a nice place empty and maybe someone will move in!

You know I love this story. I love it so much I am going to be following it for weeks, and I hope for years. A homeless guy takes over a $2 million mansion in Florida, which was sitting empty while Bank of America dicked around and never sold or rented it, and now the bank is going to have a tough time getting rid of him.

Did I say I love this story?

Check it out:

It only gets more complicated. By invoking an obscure but never rescinded nor revised Florida law, Barbosa is using “adverse possession” to justify his claim in the house, as it allows a person to move in and claim title of a property “if they can stay there seven years.” Florida has suffered more than one similar case. The Sun Sentinel makes reference to a “handful” of adverse possession claims making their way through the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office, but Barbosa’s stands out because the house he’s possessing (adversely) is so valuable. And though Barbosa is certainly eccentric, posting a sign that he is the “living beneficiary to the Divine Estate being superior of commerce and usury” on the front of the home, he isn’t stupid. He even contacted the Appraiser’s Office to alert them that his tenancy had begun, presumably as he intends to stay for the required seven years.

We haven't had any good high-profile public squats like this in San Francisco in years. Back in the day, my old friend Paul Kangas and his brother John were the kings of squats; Paul found an empty house in the Sunset in the late 1970s, with the paint peeling and the shutters hanging off the windows, moved into it, fixed it up, had the water and power turned on in his name and lived there for years. He didn't operate in secret or the middle of the night; he got the lock re-keyed, moved all his stuff in, and acted like he owned the place. He fixed it up nicely, took care of the yard -- and the neighbors loved him. An empty eyesore was now a clean, inhabited house.

Paul was no fool; he had researched the place and found out that the owner had died without leaving direct descendants or a clear will, and for a long time, nobody in the city or the legal system could figure out who actually did own it. Paul needed a place to live; this one was going to be empty for a long time. Why not use it?

John did the same thing with an abandoned house in the Mission, except that to open the door, he had to climb in a window. Somebody saw him, called the cops .... and he was arrested for burglary (for taking the front door knob, which he was going to replace.) He took the case to trial, and it was spectacular: His lawyer, Jonathan McCurdy, called a bunch of city officials and asked them who John had stolen the door knob from; "who," he kept asking, "actually owns this property?" The title was unclear; nobody could answer the question.

Then John took the stand and said he wasn't a burglar at all; he was a squatter, who was planning to take over, fix up, and live in an abandoned house.

The jury took about an hour to come back with a verdict of not guilty.

There are plenty of pieces of property around the Bay Area that are owned by banks and sitting vacant. Some of them are becoming eyesores. Somebody ought to be living there.

As we used to say, Don't just stand there -- squat!









regardless of your personal attacks, revisionist history, underlying white supremacy, eurocentrism, and acceptance of violence as the ultimate arbiter of power and possession.

I didn't choose my birth lottery.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 31, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

You can always move back to the place of your ancestors, and stop being so exploitative.

Oh wait - that would mean giving up your sweet, sweet rent-controlled apartment, wouldn't it?

Never mind...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Jan. 31, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

And you're always free to leave. Why stay on stolen land?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

Sorry to rain on your parade, but adverse possession is incredibly hard to accomplish in modern times. The fact that the bank is resisting the squatter's occupancy pretty much dooms his chances. And he has to pay property taxes and clear any liens to be successful. I'm guessing this guy doesn't have the cash to pay property taxes on a $2 million house.

Posted by The Commish on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 9:01 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 9:08 am

A lot can happen. I'd put his chances at greater than zero... certainly greater than the chances of most Americans to own a $2 million mansion. Why are you all so envious of his success anyway? You should be cheering on his efforts at succeeding.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 11:22 am

perspective is predicated on envy of those who have more success than him.

And even if I were the envious type, I'd reserve that for people who actually did something worthwhile with their lives, rather than trying to steal wealth from others.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

He's playing by the rules, trying to get ahead, just like the Wall Street bankers.

Well... except the Wall Street bankers hurt people and this guy isn't hurting anyone... and except for the fact that he's playing by the rules that were never meant for the likes of him, while the Wall Street bankers rigged the rules in their own favor and still manage to break even those rigged rules.

Compared to most of the people living in that neighborhood, this guy's a saint. I wish him well.

And Guest... green (as in envy) doesn't wear well on you.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

You might want to squat in your congressperson's office to demand an end to the secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific deal -- or if not squat, at least call. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement is a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America, a dream of the 1 percent, that in one blow could:

**offshore millions of American jobs,
**free the banksters from oversight,
**ban Buy America policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy,
**decrease access to medicine,
**flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products,
and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.

Closed-door talks are on-going between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam; with countries like Japan and China potentially joining later. 600 corporate advisors have access to the text, while the public, Members of Congress, journalists, and civil society are excluded. And so far what we know about what's in there is very scary!

Posted by Flora Tristan on Feb. 02, 2013 @ 4:48 pm