The Freedom Foundation has the story of an Orcas Island, Washington man ordered to jail for failure to fill out paperwork for an otherwise legal building on his 20 acre farm. Police also tagged him for his composting toilet in the raid on his property.
“According to San Juan County law enforcement officials, [Errol and Kathleen Speed’s] great crime was to erect a small building on their property, believing that structures less than 1,000 square feet were exempt from permit and building code requirements. They also committed the great crime of having a bed, blankets, a couch, and a kitchen in this building.
They also used a composting toilet.
For their trouble, the Speeds endured a police raid of their property (using a criminal search warrant), a jury court trial, thousands of dollars in fines, and a 180-day jail sentence for Errol Speed. Not coincidentally, the county has spent tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money prosecuting the case.
“We built an accessory agricultural building with the understanding that we could build a building under 1,000 square feet with no fees, no permits and no plans,” Kathleen Speed said. “Normally in code violations, you work with the Planning Department and negotiate after the fact, and maybe there are additional fees. But in our case, we’ve been criminalized and treated as if we robbed a bank.”
Sadly for the Speed family, one of the three public officials required to criminalize their building and toilet was the notorious San Juan County judge Stewart Andrew. As the Freedom Foundation describes him,
Andrew was originally a California attorney who relocated to San Juan County and has been a judge since 1998. Gaylord has been in office for 20 years, and he is best remembered for his successful effort to ban personal watercraft in San Juan County in 1996 and for his failed effort to suppress free speech in 2005 when he filed suit against local radio talk show hosts for opposing a gas tax increase.