Ponderosa Mobile Home Park is a county enclave, surrounded by city and located adjacent to West Fourmile Canyon Creek. In August 2017, the City of Boulder purchased Ponderosa with plans to preserve long-term affordability, annex the property into the city, replace outdated infrastructure, and reduce flood risk to the community.
The central goal of the Ponderosa Community Stabilization project is to create long-term stability for community residents. As documented in the Ponderosa Resolution, the City of Boulder affirms its commitment to collaborate with the individuals and families that make up the Ponderosa community throughout the planning and development process. Our work with residents ensures that they can choose to stay in their current home or move into a new home, no one will be forced to move out, and all homes are affordable and highly energy-efficient.
Need for Intervention
Under a Resilience Planning Grant, the need for City intervention in Ponderosa was defined. The grant explored opportunities to promote the resilience of a three-parcel area adjacent to West Fourmile Canyon Creek, including Ponderosa. How could the City plan for greater resilience in the next flood and in other natural disturbances? Special attention was paid to Ponderosa Mobile Home Park. Grant activities focused on engagement with the Ponderosa owner and residents and providing an estimate of cost for replacement of sewer and water infrastructure if the property continued to be privately owned. Early in the planning grant activities, City Council committed to a goal of non-displacement of residents living at Ponderosa. In 2016, the study of the West Fourmile Canyon Creek area was presented to the City Council, which directed city staff to continue to explore options for Ponderosa.
Using goals and drivers identified in the West Fourmile Canyon Creek Study, city staff explored options for Ponderosa, ranging from “no action” to “city purchase with infrastructure replacement, identification of home replacement options and a long-term owner to maintain affordability,” the chosen option. In April 2017, the Ponderosa owner and residents were notified of the city’s interest in purchasing the property. The purchase was completed in August 2017.
2015 West Fourmile Canyon Creek Resilience Planning Grant
The West Fourmile Canyon Creek Resilience Planning Grant engagement effort identified the following objectives for the long-term vision of Ponderosa Mobile Home Park through conversations with city staff, park owners, Ponderosa residents and City Council members.
- Minimize disruption to residents
- Keep the residents of the community together; minimize displacement
- Improve the resilience of the community
- Improve health and safety
- Retain affordability
- Create certainty for the future
- Achieve annexation goals
- Encourage long-term investment in property
- Improve utilities stability/reliability/service
- Leverage disaster recovery funding
- Minimize costs and maximize dollars invested
The Resolution to Ponderosa Residents, adopted by City Council in October 2017, ensures the long-term sustainability, resilience and permanent affordability of the property.
In the first resident workshop, the following five values were identified by residents as the top priorities.
- Aging in place
- Improved infrastructure
- Safe, comfortable, clean community
- Many home options
Boulder County Floods - Property damaged by floods qualifying for CDBG-DR funding assistance.
CDBG-DR, Resilience Planning Grant - Community engagement and infrastructure replacement cost estimate.
City Staff Options Analysis
City of Boulder Purchases Ponderosa
Entitlement Process - Annexation, site plan, technical documents and building permit.
Construction Begins - Habitat homes
Sources of funding for this project include:
- $75,625 in CDBG-DR (Disaster Recovery) Resilience Planning Grant from Colorado Department of Local Affairs for West Fourmile Canyon Creek Study Area, which includes Ponderosa Mobile Home Park
- $3.6 million in CDBG-DR funding for infrastructure replacement
- $600,000 from the City of Boulder’s Affordable Housing Fund toward purchase of property
- In-kind support from Rebuild by Design, a New York City-based organization that convenes a mix of sectors - including government, business, non-profit, community. organizations, and stakeholder – to find collaborative responses to today’s large scale, complex challenges, and helped to provide tactical support for a three-day design workshop
An extensive engagement program encourages resident participation in the planning of their community and cultivates community leaders. A consultant team was hired by the City of Boulder to, in addition to seeing the project through annexation and planning, encourage and support resident involvement in the planning process. Ponderosa is nearly evenly split between Latino and non-Latino households, the consultant team, includes one member who is a certified interpreter and translator who also serves in the capacity of cultural liaison. The consultant team works closely with a diverse Resident Leadership Committee (described in greater detail below) to provide a consistent and reliable presence in the community to build trust, reach across cultural barriers, and ensure understanding of all aspects of the project.
Between the time of purchase of Ponderosa in August 2017 and submittal of the Concept Plan for the site, four resident workshops were held.
Resident Workshop #1 : The first resident workshop was held in October 2017 with the objective to understand the residents' visions, values, hopes, and concerns for the future of Ponderosa, assess current household financial constraints, and explore resident versus city definitions of resilience within the community.
Resident Workshop #2 : In the second workshop, held in November, the city shared preliminary housing prototypes with a cost breakdown and analysis based on the information gathered from residents at the first workshop.
Resident Workshop #3 : The third resident workshop in January 2018 engaged residents in a hands-on site planning exercise that explored how the site could accommodate some or all of the amenities and features residents have identified, and evaluated tradeoffs. Residents also were led on a tour of the Wild Sage community, in order to observe Habitat construction (residents tour three Habitat homes), observe stick-built housing of a similar size to their existing homes, and observe the design of shared resources such as the Wild Sage workshop and the mailroom.
Resident Workshop #4 : At the fourth workshop in March, staff presented the draft concept plan to the residents for feedback. This plan was based on the outcomes of the site design exercise at the previous workshop. Project architects, landscape architects, engineers, and city staff attended the meeting to provide updates and answer resident questions.
Resident Leadership Committee
The Ponderosa Resident Leadership Committee (RLC) is a group of seven diverse, representative community leaders living in Ponderosa Mobile Home Park. The RLC was established in August 2017 through a community-wide vote for candidates who they thought best represent their community. The resident leaders meet once a month in the park manager’s office in Ponderosa.
Neighborhood districts for individual outreach from RLC members were formed to establish a consistent communication network with their neighbors. Resident leaders share the ideas, concerns and input of the neighbors in their districts. They have up-to-date information on the project, commit to keeping neighbors informed and check in with neighbors on issues and concerns to ensure residents have a strong voice in the community.
To encourage youth involvement in the planning process, Trestle invited Growing Up Boulder, a child and youth friendly city initiative, to engage Ponderosa youth and their families in a site design exercise similar to the one completed at Workshop #3. The group explored what children value about their community and complete the design exercise “City as Play,” through which strong themes emerged surrounding: green space, the nearby creek, community spaces, play spaces, safety, and adding new community amenities.
Rebuild by Design Partnership
The City of Boulder and Trestle teamed up with Rebuild by Design, a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, to engage in a collaborative research and design approach to achieve resilience in Ponderosa. In December 2017 a day-long design charrette workshop brought together design professionals of all areas of expertise from both local and national communities to explore how the city can make the Ponderosa site a resilient and sustainable community that maintains its unique affordability.
Approximately 60 participants, ranging from experts in city planning, design and sustainability to housing affordability and social services, joined 20 Ponderosa residents in the discussions. Breakout sessions to identify innovative options and implementable strategies focused on the following key areas: land ownership options and housing affordability, structure and housing feasibility, and social assets and challenges. The final report on the Ponderosa Resilience Workshop can be found at this link.
Community Updates and Communication
To keep the entire Ponderosa community informed of developments in the planning process, the consultant team produced and continually updates a resident guide to share answers to questions about the annexation process, housing, site design, etc. A community bulletin board is located outside the park manager's office where residents can always find up-to-date information about the project and other general announcements, including RLC meeting notes and updates, opportunities for resources and trainings, and resident workshop summaries.
A community newsletter is sent out once a month in the mail. The newsletter contains an events calendar and general community updates from the RLC, park manager, Trestle, City staff, and Habitat for Humanity. All written information is provided in Spanish and English. Additionally, city staff holds Q&A office hours the third Tuesday of every month in the park manager’s office in Ponderosa. City staff members along with a Spanish translator, Habitat for Humanity staff and other community resources meet with residents to answer any question relevant to the broader community or talk to individuals and households about their unique concerns.
Throughout the course of the project, various community resources within Boulder have reached out to the Ponderosa community to offer services. From the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), theBoulder Affordable Housing Research Initiative (BAHRI), a research team, has conducted surveys, interviews and focus groups with individuals living in, seeking, or supporting affordable housing options in Boulder. Ponderosa residents were directly involved in generating questions to survey the community about the transition to city ownership, annexation and infrastructure replacement, the Ponderosa community in general and your home specifically. Additionally, the Sustainable Community Development Clinic (SCD), a law clinic at CU Law School, provides free legal services to Ponderosa residents in title cleanup for residents’ mobile homes.
Boulder Fire and Rescue offered free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installation services in March 2018. A bilingual firefighter team installed alarms with 10-year battery lifespans in interested residents’ homes, and provided fire safety tips.
Eco-Cycle is working with the Resident Leadership Committee to improve trash facilities in Ponderosa as well as to implement compost and recycling in the future. Residents have also attended Eco-Leader 101 trainings where they have learned about Zero Waste practices, like properly sorting recycle and compost material in order to teach their family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.