For the past 25 years, Shawnee Chasser has lived in two different tree houses. She’s spent the past 10 years in her current treetop villa in Biscayne Gardens, a neighborhood in North Miami, Fla. And this structure is no pied-à-terre, it’s her sole residence. In fact, she raised her adopted daughter there as well. Chasser, who is now 65-year-old, sports long locks of purple hair. She refers herself as a “tree hugger” and a “hippie.” She makes and sells organic popcorn for a living. In her home are two cats, two dogs and two raccoons.
For years, the treehouse – and the colorful land it looks out upon – have been something of a local landmark. Its official Facebook page is titled “Shawnee’s Paradise.” On the grounds, near a handmade waterfall carved out of oolitic limestone, is a chickee house, which, until recently, Chasser rented on Airbnb. There’s one issue, she doesn’t have permission from Miami-Dade County for any of it. Now, Chasser finds herself on the verge of losing the treehouse and the land it’s on.