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Our Vision of Orchard Grove


									Our Vision of Orchard Grove

Report to the City Council of Boulder, Colorado

August 4, 2008

by the Residents of Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park
                   Primary Authors
                       Sam Alschuler
                        Rita Bowman
                      Jeffry Bueschler
                       Richard Carey
                         Michael Dray
                        Laurissa Eifler
                          Lisa Ferreira
                    Ava B. Goodheart
                       Earl McGowen
                          Anne Parker
                         Analee Perez
                        Mark Robbins
                        Ruth Waukau
                        Dick Williams

and the 450 residents of Orchard Grove,
  without whose inspiration and support
       this would not have been possible
Table of Contents
Introduction............................................................................................................ 1
      Our Vision....................................................................................................2
      Organization of the Report..........................................................................3

Section 1: Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park......................................................5
       Who We Are ................................................................................................5
       Dynamics of Our Neighborhood.................................................................7
       Why Orchard Grove Includes All 32 Acres ................................................8
       Sustainable Community.............................................................................11
       Financing Structure....................................................................................16
       Orchard Grove Mortgage Calculator.........................................................18
       Orchard Grove Sample Budget Projection................................................19
       Ownership Structures ................................................................................22
       Market Affordability...................................................................................23
       New Category Needed for AMI Index.......................................................24
       In Conclusion.............................................................................................25

Section 2: Response to the City Staff Report ......................................................27
       Factual Errors and Inaccurate Assumptions in City Staff Report ............27
       Option 1: Rezone to MH (27 Acres) ........................................................28
       Option 2: Use of City Subsidy Funds ......................................................29
       Option 3: Keep Current RM-1 Zoning ....................................................30
       Option 4: Rezone to RM-2 .......................................................................30
       Option 5: Rezone 27 Acres MH and 5 Acres High Density....................31
       Option 6: Negotiate with Potential Purchaser .........................................31
       Option 7: Rezone to MH (32 Acres) ........................................................31

Section 3: Response to Jim Chanin’s Report ......................................................33
       Surrounding Density..................................................................................34
       Chanin’s Scenario 1 ...................................................................................35
       Chanin’s Scenario 2 (Plan A).....................................................................35
       Chanin’s Scenario 3 (Plan B).....................................................................37

In Conclusion ........................................................................................................38

Works Cited...........................................................................................................40
We, the residents of Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park, have a vision we want to
share with you. In this report, we place before you an innovative and creative vision
of a future for our community that we are totally passionate about. We invite you
to explore it with us.

We had been cherishing parts of this vision independently of one another, and
then, with the challenge of the loss of our whole community, we came together and
realized that we have a collective vision. It is a vision that we as individuals have
been hungry for. It is a vision of community that our culture has lost, yet we have
found here in a level of caring and a quality of commitment to community that we
were dreaming of.

We are not talking about a fix-up of some poor and fragmented edge of society; we
are talking about a strong, empowered approach to creating a life we want to live.
We want to become a model for innovative approaches to mobile home park
ownership and management.

Boulder could be a leader on the cutting edge of this movement, as it was with
permanent affordable housing and as it is in becoming the first Transition town in
the United States. If we as a City can engage in leading edge work there, why not
reach for leading edge, creative solutions with our situation as well?

We know it is possible. What we ask now is for the City to rezone the entire 32
acres of Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park as MH-E. Although rezoning alone will
only discourage and not eliminate redevelopment, it is the first and essential step
for the City to take if it wishes to help us to preserve our community – all of it.
After the rezoning, we will do everything within our power to fairly compete to
become owners of the park, but that process will take longer and will require luck as
well as perseverance.

We are prepared to explore non-profit and cooperative ownership options that will
rely on City help, including financing through tax-exempt bonds, but will not
directly tax City financial resources. We are optimistic that the financing can be
made to work. We are asking only for the time to get it done, by capping the
redevelopment potential under MH-E zoning. We are seeking your support in
helping us find a way to our vision of a self-governing, self-sustaining mobile home
and manufactured housing community. We believe we can achieve this

independent of City financial help, but we will need the organizational and
financing capacities of the City to help incubate us to self-sufficiency.

What you will find on the following pages is the vision that – by rezoning all of
Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park – we invite you to support.

Our Vision
We have a vision of 32 acres of land dedicated and protected as mobile home park
that preserves and promotes our ethnically and economically diverse community in
a healthy and vibrant condition. We see ourselves moving in a concerted manner
toward a green-built environment and a pattern of environmentally sustainable land

We see no reason to tear down what exists. We want, rather, to build on what is
here as the fertile soil for a self-governing, self-sustaining community that finds its
own funding, manages its own affairs, and becomes a model within the City and the
Nation. We see practical approaches for funding our vision, improving our
infrastructure, and sustaining our community.

“The greenest building is the one that is already there.” – Carl Elefante

Organization of the Report
The details – who we are, who we want to become, and how we will accomplish it –
are laid out in the eight key points of Section 1 of our report below.

Following this, in Section 2, we respond to a draft of the report from City Staff.
Since the final version has not yet been released, when we receive it, we may address
additional issues as an Addendum to this Report.

In Section 3, we include a response to the report from developer Jim Chanin.

The Appendices at the end offer important references and contextual information.

Section 1
Who We Are
Among the trees of Orchard Grove, our homes shelter us, providing that sense of
home, that orientation to the world so crucial to human life. The neighborly variety
of human experience nurtured here, is what Boulder has always fostered. The
briefest of glimpses at some of our particular lives will augment what you already
know of us.

We are – Bosnians who have sought refuge here after the destruction of their homes
and the threat to their lives during the war.

We are – a graduate student of Naropa University, grateful for the affordable, quiet
living here, allowing her to serve the larger community as a therapist while paying
off student loans.

We are – a man recovering from a stroke, whose home has been adapted for
wheelchair access, allowing him to maintain a relatively independent life as he
regains mobility.

We are – an ethnically-mixed young family, rearing their two children on painter’s

We are – a disabled woman whose son at age 13 received a full-ride scholarship to
any college he chooses, who needs to stay in Orchard Grove because what he wants,
is to finish his studies at Boulder High.

We are – a retired City of Boulder employee, tending his home and garden.

We are – Hispanic parents of 3 children, juggling 4 jobs between the two of them,
proud to own their own home, as they pursue their dreams.

We are – a single mother who gave birth to her son while living here and has now
seen him graduate from CU and find a job in his field.

We are – single professional women enjoying the independence of living on their
own, which would otherwise be impossible for them in Boulder.

We are – people living, in the care of hospice, in the homes they have cherished for

We are – teachers, musicians, mentors, clerks, choir-members, athletes, artists,
professors, laborers, secretaries, social economists, entrepreneurs, service workers,
choreographers, writers, students, volunteers, disabled, elderly, retired.

We are – most importantly, “we.” We identify as a group, not simply because we
live beside each other. Through the relationships we have established over the
years, a collective sense of home and broader family has emerged and continues to

Many of us have lived here for over 20 years, several for over 30 years, and some
families have lived here for generations. Many of our families have cultivated a
network of relationships in Orchard Grove, relying on one another in a multitude
of ways. Many of us have found new “family” with our neighbors.

These existing networks among neighbors have broadened and combined in the
face of the bid to develop Orchard Grove. Because that plan threatens our homes,
we have united behind a formidable, active, passionate, and dedicated core of
residents who strive to preserve the quality of life and home equity for all residents.
We have formed the Orchard Grove Conservancy, a Colorado non-profit
community organization which meets regularly, frequently, and – lately – daily.

Several of us have radically altered our routines in order to devote our energy to this
effort. Some have postponed medical treatment, curtailed health/exercise routines,
taken time off from work, and sacrificed social activities. Some of us have missed a
great deal of sleep because we’ve attended meetings, researched, and communicated
on top of our jobs and routines. We’ve done so because home is where our hearts
are, because we have every intention of saving our homes. In that regard, we desire
the rezoning of Orchard Grove in order to avert the tragedy of displacing some 400
human beings living in 216 homes.

In April, 1968, Robert Kennedy spoke to the heart of such matters: “Whenever we
tear at the fabric of the lives which other men have painfully and clumsily woven for
themselves and their children – whenever we do this – the whole nation is

We trust that you will support our struggle to keep the fabric of our lives intact.

Dynamics of Our Neighborhood
One of our long-time residents, a young Hispanic woman who has lived in Orchard
Grove for 20 years, said in a speech to City Council: "We are such a beautiful
community and I think we are little pieces of different parts of the world put
together, and have a community that's like a big family. We are poster children of
what I think, or hope, Boulder wants to be."

Orchard Grove is remarkable for the way it incorporates many kinds of diversity.
We have wide differences in ethnicity, language, culture, economic status,
educational level, political belief, and religious belief. Yet ours is a community
where mutual respect and a non-judgmental attitude are the norm. Most
remarkably, this tolerant atmosphere was not engineered in any way – it grew up

In Orchard Grove we have the peaceful environment that many communities strive
to achieve. How did this happen?

To begin with, everyone living in Orchard Grove owns their home; no one is a
renter. Home ownership fundamentally puts all our residents on an equal footing,
bringing with it personal pride and commitment to the community.

The physical layout of Orchard Grove supports social interactions. The proximity
of our homes allows a special neighborhood feeling – we typically know our
neighbors up and down our street and on nearby streets as well.

We meet and connect with each other in community locations, including the
swimming pool, laundry facilities, trash and recycling centers, community garden,
on the common greens, and sometimes in the open space which is sanctuary to the
winged and four-legged friends we have grown fond of.

We've been told that Orchard Grove has the highest density of mature trees in
Boulder. Studies have shown that having an abundance of trees not only increases
the oxygen level, but may even contribute to reducing the crime rate.

And Orchard Grove has a virtually non-existent crime rate, not only because of the
benevolent effect of the trees, but also because of our many community
connections. We help each other by exchanging services – snow shoveling, auto
repair, sewing, cooperative food preparation, interpersonal language teaching,
informal financial assistance, transporting our elders and disabled, to name a few.

How we care for each other in our human relationships is mirrored in our
relationship with the common greens, open space, trees, and wildlife of the entire
32 acres of the Orchard Grove community. The fabric of our lives is woven of these
relationships. This is the whole fabric of what we call community – a living network
that you can’t just rip parts out of, any more than you can rip the heart out of a
living being. Open space is the heart of Orchard Grove.

Why Orchard Grove Includes All 32 Acres
At its July 8 meeting, the City Council initiated rezoning of the 27 acres which
constitute the bulk of Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park and which are designated
as MH (Manufactured Housing) under the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
Subsequently, we Orchard Grove residents, as well as members of the City Council,
expressed concern that the 5-acre parcel in the northeast corner of the Orchard
Grove site should also be considered for rezoning, since it is currently occupied by
mobile homes, by the park maintenance building, and by the community garden
which serve Orchard Grove.

Specifically, as shown on the map on the next page, portions of nine mobile homes,
numbers 153 through 161, plus the park maintenance building and the community
garden, are located on the 5-acre parcel. No other improvements are located on the
5-acre parcel. Thus, the only current use of the 5-acre parcel, which is owned by the
owner of the mobile home park, is as a part of the mobile home park.

We Orchard Grove residents are opposed to any change in the rezoning process
which would delay consideration of the 27-acre parcel for rezoning on September 2.
However, we urge the City Council to initiate a comprehensive plan change and
rezoning on the 5-acre parcel at its August 5 meeting, requesting that the Planning
Board consider both a Comprehensive Plan change to MH and a rezoning to MH-E.

A Comprehensive Plan change is appropriate for this parcel under Section II of the
Comprehensive Plan, § I b, because it reflects the actual use of the parcel and
rounds out the existing MH-designated parcel and thus is “consistent with the
policies and overall intent of the Comprehensive Plan.” This proposal does not
violate any of the restrictions on Comprehensive Plan changes. In particular, it
would not affect growth or urban services and would only affect Area I of the
Comprehensive Plan.

With Council initiation of this second rezoning, the existing rezoning would
proceed without consideration of the 5-acre parcel, and all of the issues concerning
the ultimate use of the 5–acre parcel would be postponed until a separate hearing.
This is advisable in order to simplify the issues to be addressed on September 2 and
to assure the defensibility of any possible rezoning approved at that time.

It is our position that Council should not allow our homes and our community to
be divided by a zoning line, and that zoning lines should generally coincide with
property lines. We also plead for the possibility that we will be able to preserve all
of Orchard Grove as it now exists. MH-E zoning is the first essential step to cap
development. Based on these considerations, we request that the City Council
initiate this second rezoning and associated Comprehensive Plan change, with a
hearing to be held in late August or early September by the Planning Board and
potentially in late September or early October by the City Council.

Sustainable Community
We envision a community that is a model of healthy, humane and sustainable life
for the low and moderate income people of Boulder who live in Orchard Grove.
We see a community that will embody the values that Boulder has espoused
throughout the City: care and preservation of open space and wildlife habitat,
adequate park space for health and renewal, community gardens that supply the
local community with healthy food, and “green” homes that are energy efficient. As
we as a City face increasing energy costs and global warming, we will need to rely
even more on local resources. Our vision for Orchard Grove joins Boulder’s
conversation on re-localization of natural and human resources.

Orchard Grove stands proudly on the three legs of sustainability. It has a diverse
and caring community of people with a wide range of skills and incomes. It is
market affordability in a centralized location. It is already a remarkably “green”

We see, in the five acres that are currently our common area, an essential
community resource, “the lungs of Orchard Grove”:

   • We envision protected areas along each side of the ditch, to be left as wildlife
     habitat for the white-tailed deer, red foxes, raccoons, skunks, white-tailed
     jackrabbits, gray squirrels, brown bats, snakes, mallard ducks, woodpeckers,
     crows, ring-necked brush, grackles, flicker woodpeckers, ruby-throated
     hummingbirds, bohemian nutcrackers, blue jays, and raptors such as great
     horned owls who range through Orchard Grove, as well as a multitude of
     other wild creatures living in this exquisite riparian habitat.

   • We imagine enhancing some of the area a bit further from the creek as park
     space, by grooming the existing paths and adding benches for sitting. We
     enjoy our beautiful trees – weeping willow, cottonwood, sumac, silver maple,
     elm, peach, green apple, cherry, plum, crabapple, aspen, catalpa, ponderosa
     pine, blue spruce, white pine, and ash.

   • We foresee expanding the community gardens and adding a greenhouse,
     thereby significantly contributing to the health and economic sustainability
     of our park families. Cities across the nation are moving toward inner city
     gardens to raise the level of livelihood in low income neighborhoods.

   • We would love to create a community meeting room that will allow for on-
     going classes, gatherings, and events that will further strengthen our
     community life and spirit.

We see our homes enhancing Boulder’s blossoming commitment to sustainability:

   • We envision a commitment to the installation of green manufactured
     homes, as the natural life of the older homes is completed. We do not
     imagine pulling out from under people their life investments, but rather
     slowly moving toward a green community, humanely, step-by-step as Orchard
     Grove evolves. We would not move to trash an older home if it can be
     upgraded, but rather extend the life of the owner’s investment. We would
     continue to support the work of Longs Peak Energy Conservation, who has
     to date performed weatherization upgrades on 117 of our 216 homes, and
     performed rehabilitation upgrades on another 24 of them. When a mobile
     home reaches the end of its useful life, we would prefer to deconstruct and
     recycle the materials, as opposed to demolishing it and putting it in the

   • We will seek – for this work of creating a green community with energy
     efficient homes – grants and subsidies from numerous sources, including
     such local programs as Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Boulder County
     Going Local, Center for Resource Conservation, ClimateSmart, City of
     Boulder Office of Environmental Affairs, Colorado Interfaith Power and
     Light (COIPL), Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (CoSEIA), the
     Green Heart Institute, High Altitude Permaculture, Institute for
     Intentionally Sustainable Neighborhoods (IISN), Living Space, Natural
     Capitalism Solutions, ReSource, and Xcel Energy.

   • It is with delight that we envision other collective investments in reducing
     our energy use, such as passive solar convention units, and even generating
     energy to put back into the grid. With roof-top solar panels on each home –
     86% of which are aligned east–west for excellent solar exposure – we could
     be a source of energy for the Boulder grid.

   • We can put more attention and care into our individual garden spaces. We
     may be able to move toward more xeriscaping, thus using less water than
     what we must use to maintain the lawns required by the current owner.
     Composting toilets would further reduce water usage in Orchard Grove, as
     well as provide fertilizer for our gardens.

Other possibilities for resource use efficiency intrigue us.

We envision ourselves as a model community in the midst of the newly planned
Transit Village area – a community that will draw people to be inspired by our
innovations in sustainability. We are ready and willing to try these cutting-edge
ideas. We offer ourselves and our 216 homes as a field test, to assist Boulder in
positioning itself to be America’s first Transition town.

We believe that the potential infrastructure requirements at Orchard Grove have
become a red herring that everyone seems to be using for their particular agenda-
driven interest. No one has yet had an objective, independent engineering analysis
performed – to reveal the true state of the infrastructure and what is or is not
required. We at Orchard Grove urge all parties involved to facilitate such a study as
soon as possible.

Without an accurate assessment of infrastructure needs, it is misleading to speculate
on what those needs may be, or the urgency and sequencing of them. But even
based on a worst-case scenario – replacement of all infrastructure as at Mapleton
Park – we believe that such replacement is possible and affordable for residents,
even under private ownership.

With cooperative, non-profit ownership and tax-exempt financing, infrastructure
replacement would be much more affordable. First, lot rents would exclude the
profit requirement of a private owner, saving around $100 or more per month per
lot. Second, non-profit ownership would be able to avail itself of long-term,
moderate-interest financing to replace infrastructure – or even a self-taxing district,
if that were to prove to be the preferred vehicle.

Compare that to the high-cost model of infrastructure replacement used by Mr.
Chanin in his report: 8% financing and payback of infrastructure costs over just
five years. A non-profit cooperative could do much better. $5,000,000 in
infrastructure costs financed at 6% over 30 years comes out to $146 per month per
lot – not insubstantial but still affordable for most Orchard Grove residents. Even
at $9,000,000, which is the most that the Orchard Grove residents could be
required, $285 would be affordable as a trade-off against increasing rents in a
redeveloping park, and the fee could be phased in over time with capitalized

Or compare that to City Staff’s estimates of the cost of infrastructure replacement –
between $16,000,000 and $18,000,000, financed at 6.5% over 20 years.

These examples show why an independent engineering analysis must be performed.

Financing Structure

We have researched how the financing of Orchard Grove might be structured.
Here is one example.


(a)    The land costs $15,000,000.

(b)    The infrastructure costs $9,000,000. Our reasoning is as follows. Given the
experience of Mapleton Park, whose infrastructure costs totaled $32,000 per lot, we
factored in the Colorado Construction Cost Index (figuring that construction might
not start for two years) as well as federal prevailing wage issues. Together those
might result in a multiplier of 1.3. $32,000 x 1.3 x 216 lots = $8,985,000.

(c)     Affordable housing grant funds, as well as state or federal HUD funds, might
be available and should be pursued. We estimate that $7,000,000 could be raised
by this method. $24,000,000 – $7,000,000 = $17,000,000.

(d)   Down payment averaging $16,000 per lot would reduce the mortgage loan by
another $3,500.000, for a $13,500,000 mortgage.

(e)    That would bring the debt service down to $1,200,000 per year. Add annual
operating costs of $350,000, for a total of $1,550,000 per year. Divided by 216 lots,
average lot rent would need to be $597 per month.

(f)    After infrastructure replacement, annual operating costs will likely be lower,
possibly by $100,000 per year. Debt service of $1,200,000 plus operating costs of
$250,000 total $1,450,000 per year, divided by 216 lots, average lot rent would need
to be $559 per month.

These are optimistic but achievable scenarios, and they assume that a package can
by put together to match Mr. Chanin’s offer and fix the aging infrastructure. Not
everything will work out as we hope. But at these projected lot rents, there is room
for a little adjustment. And there is certainly more room and time for discussions
with both Mr. Nuttall and Mr. Chanin, after the rezoning and as the Orchard

Grove residents seek to put together a successful financing package to establish
cooperative, non-profit ownership.


Under this scenario:

   • the community remains intact,

   • the five acres are preserved for sustainable uses,

   • no added revenue stream is necessary, and

   • no on-going City subsidies are required.

We are not saying this scenario is a certainty. We are saying that it is suggestive
enough that such a course should be explored.


To open up more possibilities, we would love to explore the following questions in

Question:     Could the City contribute one time capital grant funds to offset the
              cost of acquisition and infrastructure improvement? If so, what might
              the likely magnitude of such a grant be?

Question:     Is any county, state, or federal low income housing grant money

Question:     What foundations could provide low interest loans or grants?

Question:     Can Boulder County make a capital grant of part of the $15,000,000
              in unspent welfare money that has to be spent by the end of this year?

Question:     Are 40-year loans available? From what sources(s)?

Orchard Grove Mortgage Calculator

To assist you in further exploration of this complex set of variables, we have created
an “Orchard Grove Mortgage Calculator” at:

The next illustration shows how the mortgage calculator computes the scenario we
presented above.

Orchard Grove Sample Budget Projection
While recognizing the almost limitless range of paths the sale and ownership
structure may possibly follow, we have begun preliminary analysis to prepare for a
multitude of scenarios. These proposals have helped us better understand the
economic ramifications and responsibilities of park ownership.

The following spreadsheet shows our most promising budget scenario that we have
so far developed; it is only one of several plans being discussed. All numbers are
subject to revision as we explore all of the alternatives.

This budget is based on a two-tiered resident plan, where residents can buy into the
purchase of the park or stay on as renters. Any analysis by residents, such as the
spreadsheet below, tries to maintain zero dislocation of any Orchard Grove resident.
The two-tiered plan will allow incentives for higher paying residents, by receiving
equity, to offset the loss of revenue of trying to maintain affordable rents for the
lowest income group.

The budget spreadsheet is reproduced on the following pages.

Orchard Grove Sample Budget Projection
Page One

Orchard Grove Sample Budget Projection
Page Two

Ownership Structures
City Staff was asked by City Council to analyze the sale of Orchard Grove and
explore other options to address public and resident concerns regarding the sale.
Several other types of ownership structure have been speculated by us. In order to
help facilitate the exploration of all options, several of these options have been
provided below.

Among types of ownership that we have explored are:

Land Lease/Land Trust
The land is titled to a third party entity, which enters into a long-term lease of the
land with the community ownership. The third party entity conveys lots to the
individual residents through short term leases. Rents can be adjusted, based on
income, to accommodate all residents.

Leasehold Plan
A variation on the Land Lease/Land Trust. A third-party entity owns the land in
fee simple and leases the individual lots as separate interests, which become interests
in the corporation’s leasehold rights (rather than its ownership rights). This
structure will allow for the use of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs). Due
to the nature of the LIHTC program, the holders of the tax credits must be the
actual owners of the improvements in order to qualify to use the credits to reduce
their federal income tax liabilities.

Mutual Housing Association
A non-profit organization owns the land. The non-profit organization has a
governance structure composed solely of representatives of cooperative residents.
The governance structure controls the financial structure of the non-profit and pays
expenses through rental income and other subsidies.

Land-Only Plan
A variation on the Mutual Housing Association where the non-profit or for profit
entity owns the common land but the individual lots are owned by individual

Market-Rate Plan
A non-profit organization owns the land. The primary mortgage on the main title is
a blanket mortgage. Individual residents will hold shareholder titles funded by

resident ownership mortgages. The funds from the ownership mortgage pay into
the blanket mortgage. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to
occupy one lot subject to an occupancy agreement. The occupancy agreement
specifies the organizations rules. Residents can buy or sell their interests in them at
whatever price the market will bear. You acquire equity much the same as in other
types of home ownership.

Limited Equity Plan
A version of the Market-rate plan with restrictions imposed on how much equity
tenants can accumulate and how much they can profit from the sale of their stock
in the corporation. Limited equity plans offer affordable housing, and carry certain
benefits such as lower-interest loans, tax breaks, and grants. Both the Market-rate
plans and the Limited equity plans can provide for a dual shareholder/renter
structure. Residents can either purchase into as share holders or remain as renters.

Market Affordability
Every City Staff option and every developer option displaces some or all of Orchard
Grove residents. We hereby declare that it is our intention to displace none of
Orchard Grove residents.

There are three steps that can be taken to provide increasing guarantees of
predictability and affordability for manufactured homes in Orchard Grove. Taking
all three steps may not be necessary: at our July 1 meeting, City Staff stated that if
the first two steps were accomplished, Orchard Grove would meet the City’s
definition of “permanently affordable.”

Step One: Rezoning
MH-E keeps lot rents affordable: it has done so in the other mobile home parks in
Boulder since 1985, and they remain among the most affordable housing options in
Boulder. The market, coupled with zoning, has kept these homes affordable,
because lot rents can rise no higher than what the residents can afford to pay – that
is, what the market will bear.

Step Two: Non-Profit Ownership
Ownership of the park by a non-profit whose mission is to keep housing affordable,
could take the form of a cooperative owned by residents, an independent non-profit

land trust, or other options. Non-profit ownership serves to keep lot rents
affordable by removing the private profit motive.

Step Three: Optional Capped Appreciation
The final possible step would be to cap the appreciation on homes for some or most
of the homeowners in Orchard Grove. In exchange for agreeing to the cap,
homeowners in certain income brackets would be guaranteed reduced lot rents.

These three steps provide for increasing levels of stability and predictability in
assuring that homes in Orchard Grove remain affordable.

By far the most significant and urgent step to take in this situation is rezoning. We
urge City Council to rezone all 32 acres of Orchard Grove to MH-E in order to
preserve 216 units of already existing affordable single family housing.

If Orchard Grove is not rezoned and 216 mobile homes are removed from the
market, demand for homes in other Boulder mobile home parks would increase,
and market forces would drive rents higher for all.

New Category Needed for the AMI Index
It remains a source of concern for us that the Area Median Income Chart is used to
exclude an entire category of low-income people – namely, those who have low
income but moderate equity. For example, a person receiving maximum individual
disability payments is entitled to live in a homeless shelter bed, but not in one of
our own manufactured home, because “permanently affordable housing” counts
each homeless shelter bed as a unit, but does not count a manufactured home in
Orchard Grove. This situation affects the circumstances of many of us at Orchard
Grove. Therefore, we encourage you to hold this in mind while you make decisions
about our future.

       Low Income                  Moderate Income                  High Income

          Shelter                   Market for Rent
                                                                   Market for Sale
   Affordable for Rent            Affordable for Sale

In Conclusion
As you can see from what we have proposed and explored in these eight points, we
feel that there is a socially humane and economically feasible future for Orchard
Grove that the City of Boulder will ultimately be proud of.

We urge you to take the visionary high road to support us – as a community and as
dedicated citizens of Boulder – to create a truly sustainable future.

Correcting the zoning for the 32 acres of Orchard Grove is an essential step in
securing our future. Once the zoning situation is settled, we look forward to
exploring all future possibilities. But we need to be clear. Even if our objective of
cooperative non-profit ownership is not achieved, we still seek MH-E zoning for all
of Orchard Grove. We will then take our chances in negotiation with the owner of
Orchard Grove, as we have for many years with Lu Nuttall.

As you can see, we have the capacity to move successfully toward collective
management and ownership or non-profit management should these options
become possible.

You can sense our passion and drive to direct our own future, as a unique and
valued community in the rich fabric of our City.

Section 2
Response to the City Staff Report
In this section, we are responding to a draft of the City Staff memo that was handed
to us by them on July 24, 2008. Since we have not yet received a final draft, as of
August 3rd, we are including our commentary on the July 24th draft for your review.
It contains valuable information that we would like to share with you. When we
receive City Staff’s final report, we may address additional issues as an Addendum
to this Report.

Factual Errors and Inaccurate Assumptions in City Staff Report:

1.      In five different places, the report mentions as a possible negative outcome of
leaving the mobile homes on site, that the park owner could choose to "not allow
older mobile homes to remain in park when sold." City Staff was informed on
several occasions that such practices by park owners are illegal under the Colorado
Mobile Home Park Act, as clarified by the Longmont case of Hammer v. Grand
Meadow Mobile Home Park, 2001.

2.      City Staff report states: "City water is brought into a cistern in the park,
augmented with well water and then distributed to homes." This is false: Orchard
Grove is 100% on City water and has been for a number of years now. Well water
is used to water our common area, but not commingled with City water. See the
annual water quality report on Orchard Grove water which is distributed to each

3.     City Staff report states: "Under RM-1 zoning, the site could have up to 376
units." While this is an improvement over City Staff's original estimate of 464 units
(which assumed 100% coverage by open space and zero square footage for building
footprints and paved streets, sidewalks, etc.), it is still inflated.

RM-1 zoning requires 3,000 square feet of open space per unit. 376 units would
require 1,125,000 sq. ft. of open space. Since 32 acres totals 1,393,920 sq. ft., this
leaves a total of 268,920 square feet for 376 units plus associated roads, sidewalks,
and parking.

That means an average of 717 square feet per unit for all building footprints,
parking, streets, etc. It is difficult to see how 376 units could be built on the site
without violating the height limit.

The most accurate estimate to date of what could be built on the full 32 acres under
RM-1 zoning was done by architect Gordon Tully, who estimated approximately
250 units maximum.

4.      While City Council and City Staff repeatedly express concern for the most
vulnerable, we also want to address the fact that medium and moderate income
folks are in the same boat if City Council endorses the plans that City Staff and Mr.
Chanin are putting forward.

5.     It is significant to note that all of the recommendations by City Staff include
what is referred to as a “tighter site plan.” It was not made clear in their report why
they consider packing us in such an inevitable outcome of even simple rezoning.
Packing us in tighter will entail moving homes, building new pads, and much more
investment in new infrastructure. Gardens with amended soil, trees, patios and a
wide range of household and landscape features would be heavily affected by
such packing of homes. We suggest that blithely accepting this concept without
examination amounts to amazing insensitivity to the impact this will have on our

Option 1: Rezone to MH (27 Acres)
Among the list of what Option #1 would "accomplish" are included: "creates
incentive for property owner to increase lot rents" and "creates incentive for
property owner to redevelop the park, increasing the number of spaces, requiring
older homes to be removed when sold."

To paraphrase an old saying: with "accomplishments" like these, who needs failures?
We fail to see the logic in thinking that any of these incentives are created by
rezoning to MH-E, as opposed to leaving the zoning RM-1. Any of these
possibilities is equally likely under existing zoning. And rezoning to MH-E will act
to put an upper limit on the redevelopment potential of the land, which does not
exist under current zoning. Under current zoning, the owner could empty the park
with astronomical rent increases, and then redevelop (see Chanin Scenario #1).
MH-E zoning does not eliminate the potential for rent increases. Only the market
limits those. But rezoning does limit the redevelopment potential.

Further, as we have told City Staff: a park owner can not require "older homes to be
removed when sold," as per the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act, and the
Longmont case of Hammer v. Grand Meadow Mobile Home Park, 2001.

Staff claims that rezoning "does not prevent the displacement of current residents."
Response: there is no zoning on earth that can prevent displacement 100%. But of
all the options before City Council, MH-E zoning would clearly minimize the
displacement potential.

Staff claims as possible outcome of rezoning: "owner of park raises rents with the
intention of vacating entire park, then requests land use and zoning change." This
far-fetched scenario has never happened in 23 years of MH-E zoning in Boulder. It's
extremely unlikely City Council would approve such a zoning request. As one
Council member pointed out: "We're not stupid." Enough said.

Accomplishments of MH-E rezoning that City Staff did not mention:

   • Prevents certain and planned displacement of over 400 people.

   • Preserves 216 units of market-affordable single family housing.

   • Preserves $6,000,000 in home equity of Orchard Grove homeowners.

   • Preserves diverse, close-knit, 45-year-old neighborhood and community.

   • Serves to put an upper limit on rent increases by eliminating the possibility
     of redevelopment. This is market affordability.

   • Allows for the possibility of adding up to 216 units to inventory of
     permanently affordable housing. This could achieve permanent affordability.

Option 2: Use of City Subsidy Funds
City Staff have repeatedly expressed concern for the most vulnerable of our
residents. Not one of the options presented by City Staff really offers an affordable
choice for them. All of the options presented by City Staff – except rezoning all 32
acres MH-E – will cause unaffordable increases in lot rents/condo mortgages to
moderate and mid-income residents as well.

City Staff refers to City subsidies for owners of “permanently affordable housing.”
However, there are other subsidies available for low income residents who may own
their own home but not the land under it. We believe there may be many Orchard
Grove residents who possess Section 8 housing subsidies, and other assistance from
the City and the County, and agencies such as Center for People with Disabilities,
Imagine!, Carmel, and the Mental Health Center of Boulder and Broomfield
Counties. These subsidies may enable more low income and disabled residents to
stay in Orchard Grove.

Section 8’s maximum dollar allotment for rent is, for example, $1200 in Boulder
for a three-bedroom accommodation (with the recipient paying 30% of their
income). In Boulder, this is a difficult order to fill. In a mobile home park such as
Orchard Grove, the cost for equivalent accommodations can be considerably less.
The difference in these costs is a direct savings to the City of Boulder and to many
other government and non-government entities that provide assistance, not to
mention the residents.

Option 3: Keep Current RM-1 Zoning
This is the “do nothing” option. This option leaves us in the current position in
which we find ourselves, that we have spoken so passionately to you about at City
Council meetings. Under this option, we are vulnerable to the complete loss of our
life investments, repudiation of the historical use of the land, and destruction of
one of Boulder’s “glorious” neighborhoods and communities. The proposed 20%
affordable housing may not be affordable to most of us, nor is there any guarantee
that we will be among the small number who are eligible for these homes. There is
already a long waiting list of people in Boulder who need permanently affordable
units. The residents of Orchard Grove already own homes they love.

Option 4: Rezone to RM-2
Under this option, we are even more vulnerable to the complete loss of our life
investments, repudiation of the historical use of the land, and destruction of one of
Boulder’s “glorious” neighborhoods and communities. Upzoning would, among
other considerations, violate the comprehensive plan. As under Option 3, the
proposed 20% affordable housing may not be affordable to most of us, nor is there

any guarantee that we will be among the small number who are eligible for these
homes. We urge that the City Council take this upzoning option off the table.

Option 5: Rezone 27 Acres MH and 5 Acres High Density
Under what Option #4 "accomplishes" and "does not accomplish" are some of the
same flawed analyses we discussed in Option #1. Curiously, Option #4 states that
"approximately 30 - 50 units could be built on the vacant 5 acre parcel" under a
high-density rezoning, while Option #5 says that "under RM-1 zoning,
approximately 59 units" could be built on the parcel.

While the number of units possible under RM-1 zoning is exaggerated (RM-1
requires 3,000 square feet of open space per unit, so 40 is a more likely figure), the
"30 - 50 units" figure under high-density zoning just doesn't make any sense. How
can high-density zoning allow for the same amount of units as the lowest density of
the medium-density zoning categories (RM-1)?

In any case, Mr. Chanin's plans for the 5 acres (as presented to us on July 17) are
many times more dense than what City Staff describes in Option #4. But that is his
case to present, not ours.

Option 6: Negotiate with Potential Purchaser
It wasn't until after City Council initiated the rezoning process on July 8 that Mr.
Chanin expressed any interest whatsoever in preserving the mobile home use at
Orchard Grove. We are convinced that, without the pending possibility of rezoning
to MH-E, Mr. Chanin would be back to "Plan A" – that is, the complete
redevelopment of Orchard Grove and the displacement of every mobile home and
every resident. For this reason we strongly urge City Council to proceed on

Option 7: Rezone to MH (32 Acres)
This option, the one we cherish, was not included in the July24th draft, but after
much discussion at that meeting, City Staff agreed to include it.

Section 3
Response to Jim Chanin’s Report
Chanin Development's "Orchard Grove Situational Summary" features two photos
both of which are printed in reverse. The front-page image even centers, offensively,
on Orchard Grove’s dumpsters. Equally skewed and distorted are Mr. Chanin's
analysis, and the figures used to support a pre-determined agenda.

Before responding in detail to Mr. Chanin’s report, we feel drawn to expose how
the document attempts to frame matters. By using “situational,” “dilemma,” and
“resolution,” Mr. Chanin claims Orchard Grove as a problem which only he can
solve. The central argument of his document hinges upon his insistence that the
infrastructure improvements at Orchard Grove require financing that only a
developer can provide. With this in mind, the rest of the document reads, not so
much as a factual presentation of three options, but rather as a justification for his
aim of total redevelopment.

Mr. Chanin states that "the useful life of the water, sewer and road systems within
Orchard Grove has expired. Within the next five to seven years the existing
infrastructure will see failures beyond the level of feasible spot repair. Sewer system
in place is undersized to carry peak loads and barely capable of handling daily

As Cindy Pieropan has acknowledged, there has never been a comprehensive,
independent engineering study done of the infrastructure at Orchard Grove. All we
have are agenda-driven estimates by various parties who have a vested interest in one
particular outcome or another. Even the study done by Drexel Barrell – upon
which Mr. Chanin bases his cost estimate – did not involve ANY actual on-site
examination of the state of the infrastructure. It was simply a cost estimate based
on assuming that the infrastructure had reached the end of its useful life and would
need total replacement.

Orchard Grove continues to enjoy adequate water, sewer, electrical, and phone
service, just as it has for the past 40+ years. We have first-hand accounts from those
who service our sewer system, to the effect that the Orchard Grove sewer system is
not only functional, but may in fact be in better shape than similar private systems

in Boulder. Contrary to Mr. Chanin's claim that the sewer system is "barely capable
of handling daily flows," a number of our 20+ year residents report no sewer
backups in their decades at Orchard Grove. The Fire Department says our water
system is fully functional and adequate for their requirements.

As for roads: a number of City Council members toured Orchard Grove by bicycle.
Did you encounter a road system whose "useful life" had "expired"? We walk, bike,
and drive these roads every day, and Mr. Chanin's claims have no basis in visible

The only way to determine the true state of Orchard Grove's infrastructure is via an
independent, objective engineering report based upon on-site inspection. Until such
an assessment is done, all talk of infrastructure needs is completely speculative and

Surrounding Density
Mr. Chanin points out that Orchard Grove is surrounded by much higher density
uses. For example, he states a density of 25.7 units per acre for the apartments just
to the west of Orchard Grove. However, this 25.7 density is based on earlier density
allowances. Now-a-days, the maximum density for medium-density zoning in
Boulder is 14 units per acre, and with the open space requirement under RM-1, 8 –
10 units per acre is a more realistic maximum.

Our neighbors in San Juan del Centro, Arborwood, Stratford Park, Eagle’s Nest,
Eagle Creek, Glenlake, Walker Park, and Woodglen have told us how precious our
open space is to them, because it provides aesthetic relief and functions as the
“lungs” of their developments as well. We have heard repeatedly from them that
they support us in our quest to preserve Orchard Grove as it is.

Let's turn to an examination of Mr. Chanin's three scenarios for Orchard Grove.

Chanin's Scenario 1
Because of Mr. Chanin’s page-one claim that “change is inevitable,” subtitling this
scenario “Status Quo” belies his interest in this outcome, even though it would not
keep things in their current state. Scenario 1 is intended to show the non-viability
of rezoning the park to MH-E while improving the infrastructure. The figures are,
of course, skewed in that direction. But if we take the figures at face value, they
simply indicate that Mr. Chanin will be unable to profitably operate the mobile
home park in today's market, and would therefore be unlikely to purchase and
operate the park, after it is rezoned.

Mr. Chanin proposes in Scenario 1 to increase lot rents to $525. We estimate this
figure to be based on a re-negotiated purchase price of $12,000,000 or less, after
rezoning, factoring into the equation the kind of cash flow and operating margin
Mr. Chanin will expect. The "infrastructure improvements" figure is deliberately
skewed upward by assuming an 8% loan with a five-year payoff. With an
exaggerated monthly utility figure of $100, Mr. Chanin comes up with a total
monthly cost, not including mortgage payments, of $1,185 to $1,355.

Since there is not now, and most likely will not be in the near future, a market in
Boulder for $1,355 per month mobile home lots, Mr. Chanin's figures simply show
that he can't successfully operate a mobile home park. But a non-profit land trust or
resident-owned cooperative could. Such an entity would have access to long-term,
low interest rate financing of infrastructure improvements. And of course, we have
no idea what infrastructure improvements may be needed, nor how much they
would cost.

Chanin's Scenario 2 (Plan A)
This is Mr. Chanin’s original (and his preferred) redevelopment scenario. First, he
is comparing apples and oranges: one or two bedroom affordable condos or
townhomes versus single family mobile homes with two, three, or more bedrooms
and private yards. Many families with children, and even those without children,
would consider the affordable units to be inferior to their individual homes with
yards and gardens.

Second, under existing RM-1 zoning, Mr. Chanin can get 200 – 250 units
maximum on the redeveloped site, according to the only credible analysis done so
far, which takes into account the requirements of RM-1 zoning (study done by
architect Gordon Tully). Even at 250 units (apartments, not townhomes), 20%
affordability would yield only 50 units available to Orchard Grove residents,
compared to the existing 216 homes. And is Mr. Chanin assuming that Orchard
Grove residents would automatically go to the front of the line of Boulder residents
currently waiting for permanently affordable housing?

Mr. Chanin's $5,000 credit offer does not come close to covering the estimated
$6,000,000 loss of equity to current residents. $5,000 would be equitable for some
Orchard Grove residents; however, many of us owe anywhere from $5,000 to
$55,000 on our mortgages, obligations which are not relieved by the sale of the

The complete redevelopment of Orchard Grove makes no sense economically. To
redevelop Orchard Grove without losing millions of dollars, he will have to (a)
break various pledges and commitments he has made in meetings with Orchard
Grove residents, (b) get a significant up-zoning, and/or (c) obtain significant

At various points in the process, Mr. Chanin has pledged to build all townhomes,
duplexes, and four-plexes on the property, not apartments; pledged to offer each
displaced Orchard Grove homeowner an affordable 1100-sq. ft. townhome; offered
to sell those townhomes at $90,000 each.

Even if we assume that Mr. Chanin modifies or waters down the above
commitments, he still won't be able to pull off his redevelopment scenario at the
current purchase price, without an upzoning.

Under RM-1 zoning, even if apartments are built rather than the promised
townhomes, the site will accommodate a maximum of 240 units. Mr. Chanin has
offered every current resident an affordable unit; let's say he whittles that down
from 216 to 200. And let's assume he increases the average sale price of affordable
units from $90,000 to $120,000 (as indicated in his "Situational Summary"). Two
hundred units at $120,000 totals $24,000,000. Another 40 market rate units at
$250,000 each equals $10,000,000, for a grand total revenue from the property of

His purchase price is $15,000,000. His minimum infrastructure estimate is
$6,000,000, for a total of $21,000,000. Then there's the $5,000 he's offering every

mobile homeowner for their equity, which totals $1,080,000. This comes to a total
of some $22,000,000, before construction costs and all other costs.

Assuming construction costs of $100 per sq. ft.: $100 x 1100 sq. ft. x 240 units
equals $26,000,000 in construction costs.

So before factoring in overhead, legal costs, sales costs, debt service, etc., Mr.
Chanin's costs will be $48,000,000, versus $34,000,000 in total revenue based on
commitments to affordable housing and the limitations of RM-1 zoning. That
means Mr. Chanin would lose $14,000,000 before any other costs are added.

Mr. Chanin's projections for Plan A just don't add up. To make the project work,
he must (a) break various pledges and commitments he has made in meetings with
Orchard Grove residents, (b) get a significant up-zoning, and/or (c) obtain
significant subsidies.

Chanin's Scenario 3 (Plan B)
This is somewhat different from the Plan B he presented to Orchard Grove
residents on July 17. At that time, Plan B assumed an upzoning of the 5 acre parcel
to high density, the construction of up to 210 units on that 5 acres (40–60 units per
acre on 3.5 buildable acres), and the payment of all Orchard Grove infrastructure
needs out of the revenues from the developed 5 acres. Mr. Chanin's new Plan B
seems to imply development of the 5 acres under the existing RM-1 zoning, which
would give him only around 40 new units.

Scenario 3 still assumes infrastructure needs which may or may not be accurate, and
still uses a front-loaded 5-year, 8% loan rate assumption for those improvements.
With more reasonable loan and payoff assumptions, and especially if the park were
to be purchased by a non-profit cooperative, any infrastructure needs could be met
without pushing lot rents beyond market affordability, as Mr. Chanin anticipates in
Scenario 3.

Mr. Chanin's figures are intended to dissuade City Council from rezoning Orchard
Grove by indicating that keeping the mobile home park intact would not be
economically feasible. But paradoxically, Mr. Chanin is unwittingly making a
strong case for non-profit ownership as the best and most viable option for
preserving the neighborhood, the homes, and the affordability of Orchard Grove.

In Conclusion
Non-profit ownership would be a win-win-win for the current owner (he could sell
profitably even under MH-E rezoning), for the residents (keeping their cherished
homes, neighborhood, and single-family lifestyle, and keeping lot rents affordable),
and for the City (adding 216 units to the inventory of permanently affordable

Please recall that Mr. Chanin frames this as a “dilemma” which describes two
premises, both of which are unfavorable to the chooser, who is forced to make a
choice. This language attempts to force unfavorable choices on both the City
Council and the residents of Orchard Grove. We wish to stress that this represents
a heavy bias toward a developer interested in profits, disregarding the feasibility of
other possibilities. Fully aware that “change is inevitable for a continued future,” we
have grave concerns about the quality of change Chanin Development plans to
bring to Orchard Grove, and what motives drive those plans.

We request that the City Council rezone all of Orchard Grove now and give the
Orchard Grove residents a chance to pursue an alternative that meets the intent of
the Comprehensive Plan for this area. Our vision is not to deprive Mr. Nuttall of
any of the profits of the sale of Orchard Grove. As we have stressed, he has been a
good landlord, and he deserves a fair profit. But working with the $15,000,000
sales price, we believe that we can come up with a better package that promotes a
self-governing, economically and environmentally sustainable community. We
request only that the City Council give us a chance to show what we can do.

Works Cited

2007 Real Estate Manual. State of Colorado, Department of Regulatory Agencies,
Real Estate Division. July 2007. Chapter 26. Related Real Estate Law 25 Jul. 2008

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. 2005

CFED. 6 Jun 2008. Corporation for Enterprise Development. 6 Jun 2008.

Chanin Development Co., and Designworkshop. Orchard Grove Situational
Summary. 25 Jul. 2008.

Chapter 9-9: Development Standards. Boulder Revised Code. Colorado Code
Publishing Company. (c) 2008. 25 Jul. 2008

City of Boulder. ”Welcome to the Boulder Police Department” 27 Jun 2008.
Weekly Crime Map. 3 Jul 2008.

Do you own a manufactured home, but rent the land beneath it?. Resident Owned
Communities, USA. 6 Jun. 2008 <>

Estate Division. July 2007. Chapter 26. Related Real Estate Law 25 Jul. 2008

Getz , Charmaine Ortega. “Mobile Home Parks: Affordable Oasis or Mirage?”
Boulder Magazine Summer 2007. 7 Jun. 2008

Grainger, Stephanie, John Pollack, and Jann Oldham. “Community process for the
Review of Affordable Housing Goals and Priorities” 22 May 2008. Memorandum
for Boulder City Council Study Session.

Grissim, John. The Grissim Ratings Guide to Manufactured Homes. Rainshadow
Publications. 1 Feb. 2006

Grissim, John. The Grissim Buyers Guide to Manufactured Homes and Land.
Rainshadow Publications. 25 Apr. 2006

Hammer v. Grand Meadow Mobile Home Park. Boulder County, District Court,
Div. 6. Case #01CV1481.

History of Mapleton Home Association. Jun. 2001 Mapleton Home Association. 7
Jun. 2008<>.

I'M HOME - Innovations in Manufactured Homes. CFED

Manufactured Homeowners' Association of America

Manufactured Housing: A Responsible Vehicle for Affordable Homeownership.
Innovations in Manufactured homes 22 Jul. 2008.

Map. 2008 Boulder County , Colorado (Aerial Photographs: Spring/Summer
2006). <>

NeighborWorks America

ROC USA. 6 Jun 2008. Resident Owned Communities /The Meredith Institute. 6
Jun 2008. <>

Rural Community Assistance Corporation

Section One: Overview of national MH statistics & data. All Parks Alliance for
Change 22 Jun. 2008. <>.

Understanding Today’s Manufactured Housing. Manufactured Housing Institute
13 Jul. 2008


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