How to 'own' land in Boulder 

click to enlarge Signs in Boulder convey an un-neighborly message. - RICH TOSCHES
  • Rich Tosches
  • Signs in Boulder convey an un-neighborly message.
When last we checked on the village of Boulder, officials had enacted an actual ordinance in which pet owners became "guardians" and the pets themselves became "companions." The effect of the ruling has been monumental, leading to far-reaching changes such as people in Boulder shouting, "Oh no! My companion just shit on the carpet!"

(As you might imagine, that's not something you'd normally say. Unless you're a 22-year-old Playboy centerfold and live with Hugh Hefner.)

Today we return to Boulder and find that although some of its hippies have grown up to be lawyers and judges, it's quite possible they haven't put away the ol' hashish pipe. Meet Richard ("Dick," as you will see) McLean, lawyer, former Boulder mayor and ex-district judge, and his wife, Edith Stevens, who is also a lawyer. (Lawyers tend to marry within the group, gazing into each other's beady eyes after passing the bar exam on their sixth attempt and softly whispering those three magic words: "I cheated, too.")

The lawyers live near the mountains. Next to them is a field owned by Don and Susie Kirlin, who live down the street. The Kirlins bought the land in 1984, hoping one day to build a dream home. Meanwhile, they cut the weeds and maintained split-rail fences and paid not only property taxes on the land, but also steep homeowners' association dues for 23 years.

In the big house next to the vacant land were lawyers McLean and Stevens, who are religious people and attend services each Sunday at Our Lady of the Billable Hour. I'm just kidding. Both of them are really nice people who are well into their 70s now, but are still quite active.

Twice a week they go grocery shopping. And just like the rest of us, McLean goes with the hope that they'll find a wet floor so he can knock his wife down, claim she slipped and sue the daylights out of the store.

A while back, the Kirlins began planning their dream home. A home that would block the lawyers' view of the mountains. The lawyers went to court before a judge who happened to be a longtime friend and got a restraining order against the Kirlins.

Then they really dropped the lawyer hammer. They claimed they'd been using the Kirlins' land for two decades, mostly as a pathway to the back of their house, where they liked to sit on warm summer evenings and gaze at the mountains, the solitude broken only by Richard's hissing or the sound of Edith's rattles when she sensed danger.

And then Boulder District Judge James Klein did something you probably won't believe. He awarded McLean and Stevens one-third of the Kirlins' land.

Just gave it to them. From Klein's actual ruling: "Plaintiffs' attachment to the land is stronger than the true owners' attachment. Whereas the Kirlins were unaware of plaintiffs' use of the land during virtually their entire period of ownership, plaintiffs have efficiently used the land on a daily basis. Given this history of use, the equities favor transfer of title."

Now, with a third of the 4,700-square-foot lot owned by the lawyers, the Kirlins say there's not enough land to build their house. Oh, and McLean and Stevens want their legal fees to be paid by drumroll, please the Kirlins.

Sunday, I stood in front of the lawyers' home. It's at 2059 Hardscrabble Drive, by the way, in case you want to make a path across their front yard and hope a judge gives it to you. (Or if you're just looking for a good place to throw a big smelly bag of "companion poop.")

At noon, McLean who refused to talk drove into his garage in his brand-new Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid. Seems McLean and Stevens are environmental stewards. Saving the Earth, you know.

Because long after the ozone layer is gone and the rest of us have vanished, lawyers like McLean and Stevens will still be here.

At least that's what the entomologists say.

Listen to Rich Tosches at 8 a.m. each Thursday on The Darren and Koba Show on MY99.9. Reach him at rangerrich@csindy.com.

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