An attorney for Ronald "Arjo" Adams has asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to order the city of St. Paul to hold off on demolishing his East Side home.
Adams was forced from the 676 Wells St. property on Tuesday afternoon, and he said he is now living in his pick-up truck.
A demolition crew "started getting the house prepped for demo, clearing everything out from the inside," said Adams' attorney, Melvin Welch. "It's a pretty crappy thing to have happen on Christmas Eve."
Welch said the Court of Appeals is likely to weigh in on the case within the next two months. Pointing to recent repairs completed on the house, his appeal accuses the city of being "arbitrary and capricious" in issuing an order to vacate and proceeding with demolition on a livable home.
City officials say they've asked Adams to bring his 1 1/2-story property up to city housing standards for more than two years, and they're now acting to remove a distressed property. Adams, who was arrested in a drug raid at the home in October but not charged, has butted heads with St. Paul officials for well over a decade, on a number of levels.
In a phone message, Adams said that work crews arrived at his house Tuesday, forced him out and confiscated his and his housemates' personal effects.
"They took the Christmas presents. ... They took everything, and they destroyed the rest of it," Adams said. "I have not stopped crying for two days. I don't have any clothes, except what I'm wearing. No place to sleep but in my truck.
They even took my I.D.s, my money, my Social Security card."
Adams has been wrestling with the city for years over the condition of his neighboring folk-art "People's Park," a hodge-podge assembly of concrete gargoyles, bed headboards and cobblestone walks which he put together over the course of a decade on an empty lot at 680 East Wells St., next to his home.
The artistic endeavor was part political protest over the city's decision to demolish a series of homes in the neighborhood. Pointing to large objects hanging in the trees and unsteady stone walking paths, city officials called the "People's Park" illegal and potentially dangerous.
The city emptied the lot last May.
Adams' conflict with St. Paul escalated in June 2012, after city housing inspectors discovered that homeowner Beth Woolsey had moved out-of-state. The city reclassified their Wells Street home as a rental property and conducted an inspection, which turned up a number of issues.
Adams, who has lived in the house off Payne Avenue for decades, has since added his name to the property title, but the Department of Safety and Inspections' subsequent inspections turned up new concerns. "The number of code violations that the city found went from nine, to 49, to 98 over the course of 3 1/2 months," said Welch, incredulously.
Adams and his attorney maintain that the serious violations -- such as issues with the home's foundation -- have all been rectified. Eager to avoid yet another empty lot in the neighborhood, the Dayton's Bluff Community Council recently contributed $16,000 toward repairs.
"They have fixed all the items that were identified as materially endangering," Welch said. "The foundation was repaired. The railing was all repaired. The entire basement, it used to have a bathroom down there ... that was all cleared out, so there's no living space in the basement anymore."
"The little pithy code violations, those aren't life-threatening, like (fix the showerhead on the) tub and rubber-seal the attic door," Welch added.
In October, Adams and several of the home's inhabitants were arrested by St. Paul police in a drug raid that turned up methamphetamines, prescription pills and suspected marijuana. Adams was later released from jail without being charged.
"I don't know where he's living, and I'm worried for his sanity and his safety," Welch said.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at