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Squatters decamp after gremlin grumblings

My question may be a touchy one, but I have to ask. Each workday, I travel along Roosa Avenue between U.S. Highway 160 and the Ninth Street Bridge. I’m baffled by the parking lot for decrepit RVs and jalopies along the river. They’ve been there for weeks on end. Today, there was a car up on jacks missing its two front tires. This seems like an incredibly inappropriate place for people to park and camp. Like gremlins, they’re multiplying. No one else seems to mind the eyesore. What’s the deal? How can this not be illegal? – Keepin’ It Classy

How can Action Line resist an invitation to discuss “gremlins”? Let the rant begin.

Some vintage car collectors would disagree, but the AMC Gremlin was a crime against steel.

And why would anyone name a vehicle for a malicious creature that breaks stuff?

The hideous hatchback was hatched during a long flight during which its designer reportedly sketched the concept on a barf bag.

Then there’s the 1970 dubious debut. Appropriately, the Gremlin was foisted upon the motoring public on April Fool’s Day.

To its credit, the subcompact did feature one notable trait: truly atrocious styling.

Which is saying a lot considering the Gremlin was a product of the ’70s, the era of leisure suits, disco and Richard Nixon.

Because we’ve dragged the White House into this grumbling, did you know the Gremlin has other presidential connections?

Bill Clinton drove a green Gremlin all over Arkansas during his unsuccessful 1974 campaign for Congress.

In the meantime, George H. W. Bush’s family owned a Gremlin with a Levi denim interior, and George W. Bush drove the thing in 1973 while earning his MBA.

Seriously. You can look it up.

So let that be a civics lesson, boys and girls. You can drive a Gremlin and still become president of the United States!

But let’s get back to Durango’s emerging riverside retreat.

Action Line decamped to da camp in search of Gremlins.

Dang, none were roosting along Roosa.

However, there was a proliferation of vans and RVs featuring brown and burnt-orange stripes, a signature ’70s style.

The police were already there. Not the Fashion Police, but the local constabulary. Therefore, your intrepid scribe pulled an illegal U-turn and let the police do their job.

Later that day, Action Line called our good friend Steve Barkley, the city’s ace code compliance officer, to see what was imparted to the interlopers.

“You mean the people in sleeping bags and tents or the ones in the RVs?” Steve asked with deadpan seriousness.

“Um, you mean there was an entire camp along the river?”

“Yup,” Steve said. “We informed them that camping was not allowed there, provided trash bags for them to clean up and gave them two hours to depart.”

The RVs pose a more complicated situation, Steve said.

“They frequently come and go, which is fine. Everyone’s allowed to enjoy the area, and many people drive there for lunch or a rest. It’s just that you can’t camp in your vehicle overnight there or anywhere else in the city.”

The city code is clear: “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly lodge in or camp upon any public way, public park, public place or public building.” The code also specifically bars RVs from overnighting in municipal parking lots.

So put these two numbers in your phone: 385-2900 for nonemergency dispatch and 375-4930 for code enforcement.

Have your aide-de-camp call either in the event of bilious billeting or wacky bivouacking.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can ask for anonymity if you think the Ford Pinto or Chevy Vega could challenge the AMC Gremlin in a race to the bottom.