This is Not An April Fools Story

This is for real, but how fitting that I discover this on April Fools Day. There was an article in the Washington City Paper about the construction site right next door to our new flat. Now, unfortunately, the City Paper makes it so that I can’t simply link to the article, but you can find it in the archives by filling in the “Friday Issue Date” of “3/11/2005”, and then scrolling down to the article “This Land is My Land.”

Here’s a summary - There’s a new luxury apartment building going up right next to our building. They’ve had a bit of an issue with a local resident named Tommy Robinson, who owns a 120 square foot chunk of land pretty much in the middle of their new building - and he’s refusing to sell. Tommy, though, is a bit paranoid - so every day he goes and sits on a bucket in the middle of his property to ensure that none of the construction workers trespass.

A few things to note: First of all, according to the banner at the top of the page, this article in the City Paper archives will only be available for free for four weeks from the publishing date of March 11, 2005. So go read it while you can. Secondly, if you’re at all technical, look at the URL: They are using MS-DOS batch files as CGI scripts!! How hardcore can you get?

As strange as these guys may sound, I totally respect what they’re doing. An important part to being a healthy citizen of a democracy is to exercise your rights, just as one might exercise their muscles. For example, I choose to exercise my right to privacy regularly by encrypting my email. Tommy chooses to exercise his property rights. Good for him.

And the “otherwise useless 45-foot public alley” that runs by the building? As long as Tommy owns the property, the city is required to give him access in some manner. If Tommy hadn’t been so stubborn, the city would have sold the alley to the developers. This is a great thing, since most of our windows look onto that alley! (Really, it’s not as bad as it sounds.)

Heather and I move tomorrow!