Dotsero Mobile Home Park residents try to become a resident-owned community
Residents have less than 60 days to secure financing and make an offer to buy the property where they live
The residents of the Dotsero Mobile Home Park are attempting to collectively purchase the park and become a resident-owned community. The challenge is, they have less than 60 days left to secure financing and make an offer before the landlord can begin accepting bids from outside buyers.
A new statewide bill, signed into law in 2020, requires park owners who wish to sell their property to notify residents of the impending sale, and guarantees that residents will have 90 days after notification to organize into a cooperative and make a competitive offer before the landowner can sell the property.
Since being notified of the sale in early April, 64 of the 84 homeowners in the Dotsero Mobile Home Park have already signed on to join the aptly named Volcanic View Cooperative.
A tight-knit community
The Dotsero Mobile Home Park is a tightly interconnected community. The park, located just off exit 133 on Interstate 70, started around 30 years ago, housing laborers who worked on the Glenwood Canyon project.
Alondra Gardea, 25, is the vice president of the board for the Volcanic View Cooperative. Gardea shares a home with her husband and her 5-year-old daughter, and lives across from her parents and down the street from her sister.
Many of the residents are second- and third-generation members of the community, with roots that started in Mexico and remained intact as people followed friends and family to Eagle County in search of a better life.
The residents are banding together with the help of Thistle, a nonprofit organization based out of Boulder that provides technical assistance to mobile home parks in Colorado to help them transition to resident ownership. Resident-owned communities are still a rare occurrence in Colorado, but Thistle has successfully helped six communities transition to resident ownership since 2017, including a park in Leadville last fall.
Andy Kadlec is the program director at Thistle, and said that the strong showing of support from the Dotsero community is a crucial factor for attaining success.
“The law requires a minimum of 51% of the community to be in favor of a purchase, but from our perspective that can also mean that 49% are against it,” Kadlec said. “We really like to see a high level of engagement and interest, and I believe that this community has that.”
Ownership would also give the residents the ability to tackle much-needed improvements to the property. The park was not designed to be a permanent residence, so there are a number of infrastructure projects that need to be undertaken in order to support a healthy and durable residential community moving forward.
The most expensive project will be an overhaul of the park’s septic system, which is outdated and insufficient to meet the needs of the growing community.
In addition to the septic system, the water supply needs to be changed. Sourced from the base of the Dotsero volcano, the water that currently runs through the park’s pipes is undrinkable and, in most cases, entirely unusable due to high mineral content.
Kyleigh Morales, 32, is the president of the Volcanic View Cooperative. She said that the only way that the community can access clean water is to purchase water bottles and jugs in bulk from Costco.
Morales said that the poor water quality causes a myriad of issues and extra costs for residents, corroding water heaters, washing machines, and pipes to the point where they must be replaced on an annual basis. In order for the community to get fresh water into their pipes, they would have to tap into another water source.
Maintaining affordable workforce housing
The call for reliable and affordable workforce housing in Eagle County grows with each passing year, and the Dotsero Mobile Home Park is providing exactly that for dozens of families who work throughout the valley.
If the Dotsero Mobile Home Park is sold to an outside buyer, the new landlord could raise rental rates at will or force the residents off the land entirely. If that happens, the entire community would be pushed into an already overcrowded housing market, with very few, if any, options that resemble the current prices that they pay for housing.
The clock is ticking, and the board of the Volcanic View Cooperative is now turning to the greater Eagle County community to help support the process and get them to the bidding table before it’s too late.
This story is from VailDaily.com.
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