In the pristine neighborhood of Upper Skyway, where the shrubbery is manicured and the grass is green, lives one of Colorado Springs' most intractable code violators.
Tom Taylor has a long history of code-enforcement violations. James Mullen, who has lived two doors away from Taylor for 13 years, says that on windy days, neighbors will pick up the trash that blows off his cluttered property onto Vista Grande Drive. The property is such an eyesore, Mullen says, that he knows of at least one neighbor who, unable to sell his house, has blamed Taylor.
"We've been working on this guy for years," says Ken Lewis, head of the Colorado Springs Code Enforcement Unit. "We've cleaned his property. We've written him tickets a couple times. He just can't throw anything away. It has the whole neighborhood up in arms."
Lewis says that he has even talked to the city attorney about Taylor.
"I need them to hammer on this guy," he says.
On Tuesday, Taylor was in City Court, in a revocation of probation hearing. According to Lewis, Taylor had earlier pleaded guilty to accumulation and storage of junk, and the judge had ordered him to work with Lewis and Co. to clean up the mess. Accused of failing to meet the terms of his probation, Taylor denied it; the judge ordered that he appear again in a hearing on the revocation at a later date. The maximum fine he could face is $2,000.
Taylor says that as frustrating as his behavior might be for neighbors and to Lewis, it's worse for him. After his hearing, he tells the Independent that he suffers from a diagnosed condition called compulsive hoarding syndrome. It is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
"The problem, in a nutshell, is that this is a mental health issue," Taylor says, adding, "I've had the hoarding tendencies since I was a teenager."
Today, he says, his house is filled with junk — and, he adds, "It drives me crazy."
Taylor claims that he wants to work with the city to be in compliance, but that his neighbors, who all belong to a homeowners association, "are trying to hold me to a higher standard than the rest of the city."
At one point after his hearing, Taylor approaches a small group of neighbors, in an apparent effort to discuss their complaints.
"There's nothing to talk about!" one exclaims. "Clean up your house! Clean it up!"
Lewis acknowledges that Taylor might have a mental illness, but that doesn't change the fact that since 2006 nine cases have been opened by the city because of complaints made by Taylor's neighbors. It's an exceptional amount of time and energy to be spent on one address.