Residents of a small mobile home community just south of Boulder are fearful for the future after the park was sold in August. Sans Souci is in south Boulder and outside of city limits, therefore the city is unable to intervene in the situation.
Photo credit Maeve Conran: Karen Finch in front of her home of 28 years at the Sans Souci park. “I turned around and doubled my payment so I can get it paid off so I can get my debts paid out so I could retire, and to have some person decide that they can come in and we don’t know what the rents are going to be and we don’t know how much they can raise it and we don’t know how much they can dictate over our life.”
This is a tight knit community, neighbors know each other and help each other out. It’s why many of them have lived here for decades. Like Karla Ottero who has lived in the park for 24 years, since her mother moved the family here when she was 14. She’s now raising her own family here. Karen Finch is another long-term resident who has been here for 28 years. It’s the sense of community that has really made Sans Souci a real home over those years says Karla.
“That’s actually why we moved here. That’s why my mother, when I was 14, that’s why we bought this place, the feel of the neighborhood, the individuality of the neighborhood…everybody has put their own touch on their home, and it’s not like driving around a normal neighborhood, it’s special.”
But that individuality is in peril as a new park owner and their management company have imposed a new set of rules on the residents.
On August 21st, residents found blue bags hanging on their door containing a package from RV Horizons, the new property management company. “This was the first that we knew that there was even a possibility of a sale, let alone that it had already happened with no notification to us.”
(Pete Reiner, an attorney for RV Horizons said that the previous owner was required under Colorado statute to inform the residents about the sale, and that they company was as surprised as the residents that this hadn’t been done.)
Some of the changes have been swift with crews working for RV Horizons coming in and clearing people’s gardens of plants deemed to be outside of the new regulations. Karen Finch was just one of the residents who found landscape workers cutting down plants in her yard.
“They had taken an axe to my lilac bushes, the axe was sitting in my garden. They had stomped on top of of my rose bushes down to a nub and no one was notified.”
Ottero says some of the new rules are not unreasonable and are standard for mobile home parks, however other rules she says completely change the nature of the park.
“There is a resident who when I moved in when I was 14, we called her the purple lady. She has a beautiful garden that is comprised of statuettes. She has created all these little scenes with items that she got from her mother and she inherited and there are all these purple flowers everywhere…she has had to remove, I would say a good half of what she had up, and that’s part of the individuality that we moved here for, that’s part of the character of our community.”
Ottero says that aside from the lack of communication, the big concern is how much will the residents be expected to pay and if they can’t afford rent increases…what lies ahead.
“That’s the main concern, is we know that people would pay a whole lot more money than we do each month to live here, but this is low income housing and it’s some of the last in Boulder County and there is every indication that that is not going to continue to be the case and there are a good number of residents who are not going to be able to afford a rent increase, especially on top of items that are in these rules and regulations that demand that they put a tremendous amount of money and work into their homes in order to be compliant. So there is absolutely some very real and valid fear about not being able to afford our homes any more.”
Peter Reiner, attorney for RV Horizons told KGNU that they have not finalized the 2019 budget, so he could not comment on any potential rent increases. He did say that they plan to upgrade the water and septic systems in the park as well as do other improvements.
Ottero wonders how differently this situation might have gone if the residents had initially been approached by R.V. Horizons and treated like people, not like a business acquisition. “Had there been clear and respectful communication rather than sweeping change without our input or consent, I really believe we wouldn’t be afraid, or angry; we wouldn’t have needed to be. If we approach each other as fellow human beings, I believe Sans Souci and R.V. horizons can create a solution that benefits all of us.”