Mark Gordon believes he has a way to unload a house he built in Aptos but can't sell.

He wants to hold an essay contest and award the two-bedroom, solar-heated home to the winner.

But there may be a hang-up -- a difference of opinion over whether the contest is legal under California raffle laws.

[the Maryland Attorney General's office said last week that it is illegal in most of the state for an individual to raffle off a home for profit, United Press International has reported. However, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors allowed raffles to resume after a contract governing it was rewritten.]

Gordon says an essay contest is different from a raffle like the one tried unsuccessfully by a Marin County builder in a similar bind.

Don Gartner, an assistant Santa Cruz County district attorney, disagrees. He says what Gordon wants to do violates state lottery laws, just as the Marin raffle did.

Gordon, who describes himself as a solar builder, says he thinks Gartner is wrong and plans to go ahead with his contest.

The essays would be judged by a professional contest judge from Southern California.

Along with the essay, each entrant must submit a check for $100. The contest rules state that all entries will be refunded if fewer than 17,00 persons enter.

If that many or more do sign up, Gordon says the proceeds will be divided like this: $15,000 for him for the house; about $15,000 for contest expenses; the rest for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.