Welcome to Wednesday, Boulder. We’ve got a bunch of news for you today.

First up, John Herrick reports on a lawsuit filed in Boulder County District Court by an evicted resident of North Boulder’s largest mobile home community, alleging the park’s owner violated Colorado law. The suit brings to light the ongoing struggle over the rights of those who live in some of the city’s most affordable, yet increasingly scarce, housing options. Further, Boulder would largely be exempt from the occupancy limits prohibition under the latest land-use bill, the special counsel defends its investigation into a police oversight panel member, and more.

Also, BRL’s publisher Stacy Feldman was named a fellow for the Reynolds Journalism Institute innovation fellowship.

Finally, we’re redesigning our newsletter so it’s easier for you to read and easier for us to produce. This is really just a ploy to let me work less. Now I just need to figure out how to get paid more for my less work. Kidding.

We’d love your feedback on what we’ve come up with. If you’re interested in being in a test group, hit reply and let us know. If you’re in the first handful or so of those who respond we’ll send you the prototype and ask for 20 minutes of your time on Zoom to give us feedback. It’ll be such fun.

Enjoy the day.

— Tim, reporter

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What to know today

  • 80 with clouds: Covered skies will insulate the day, maybe providing some unheard of Colorado mugginess. Thunderstorms tomorrow will hopefully break the heat and water those herbs you just planted.
  • Boulder’s occupancy limits would largely remain in place under Colorado land-use bill: The House Transportation, Housing and Local Government Committee on Tuesday passed the Colorado land-use bill 9-4, after a flurry of amendments reinstated many of the upzoning requirements that were stripped from the bill as it wended its way through the Senate. The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.
    • The committee also approved an amendment that would exempt college towns like Boulder from the bill’s prohibition on occupancy limits based on family status. The amendment allows cities that have a student population accounting for at least 25% of the overall population to impose occupancy limits. CU Boulder’s student population of about 36,000 makes up more than 30% of Boulder’s population during the academic year.
    • The bill, however, would effectively raise Boulder’s minimum occupancy limits from as few as three unrelated people to five. The Boulder City Council was already considering such a change this year.
    • In the last year, councilmembers updated laws regulating noise, weeds and trash in order to address nuisance concerns from residents who live in college neighborhoods, such as University Hill. Historically, occupancy limits have sought to achieve a similar objective by limiting how many people can live together, but with the downside of creating more insecurity for renters living in over-occupied homes. — John Herrick
  • Special counsel defends investigation into Police Oversight Panel member: Boulder officials on Tuesday provided city councilmembers with a memo that seeks to answer their questions regarding an investigation by a special counsel into a member of the Police Oversight Panel.
    • The investigation was triggered by a group of residents who lodged complaints alleging the panelist, Lisa Sweeney-Miran, is biased against police. The special counsel, Clay Douglas, a former city attorney appointed by councilmembers, determined late last month that Sweeney-Miran should be removed or resign due to a provision in city code that prohibits anyone with a “real or perceived bias” from serving on the panel.
    • Critics of the investigation have asked why Douglas did not interview members of the selection committee, which nominates new panel members for council approval. According to the memo, Douglas considered the deliberations of the selection committee confidential under city code. To interview them would have posed “potential violations” of the law, he said. Others asked why he didn’t interview the people who first created the panel, in part to understand the intent behind the provision prohibiting members from showing bias. This would have been “beyond the scope of his engagement,” according to the memo.
    • This Thursday, May 4, city council is scheduled to vote on whether to remove Sweeney-Miran from the panel. On Monday, her lawyer sent another letter to city officials arguing city council does not have authority to remove her. Sweeney-Miran’s ouster would be a significant show of influence by the city council over the panel, which, until this year, has received little oversight since it began meeting in early 2021. For more on this issue, see our previous reporting. — John Herrick
  • Property tax increases: The county has finished its new property tax assessments, and because Boulder County properties continue to climb in market value, so too do the taxes associated with those values. You should have gotten a letter in the mail about the new assessment (or soon will). The appeal period runs through June 8. Forms are here. “The median percent increases for residential type properties in this appraisal period is 35%,” the county said. “This does not equate to a 35% increase in property tax.” (An explanation as to why.) Commercial and industrial properties will see a median value increase of 41%. Same with apartment complexes.
    • To blunt the property tax increase, Gov. Polis and fellow Democrats introduced a 10-year proposal on Monday that would cut the projected tax increase in part by trimming TABOR refunds. It can’t be passed by the legislature — but it could end up on the ballot in November for voters decide. It needs the backing of a simple majority in the legislature to get on the ballot. “Our proposal has the ability to provide long-term reductions while providing immediate savings,” state Senate President Steve Fenberg, of Boulder, told CPR.
  • Half-acre fire: On Tuesday, a roughly half-acre fire broke out near People’s Crossing in west Boulder. It was quickly put out. The cause hasn’t been released.

Go Deeper…

Boulder Meadows resident sues mobile home park owner over alleged wrongful eviction 

By John Herrick

May 3, 2023

A resident who was evicted from the city’s largest mobile home community in North Boulder for late rent has filed a lawsuit in Boulder County District Court alleging the park owner violated Colorado law. The suit marks the latest fight over the rights of those who live in some of the city’s most affordable — and increasingly scarce — supply of housing. The April 28 lawsuit alleges that Boulder Meadows, a subsidiary of the Michigan-based real estate developer Uniprop, Inc., violated the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act when it evicted Raleigh Renfree, a 48-year-old father of two who said he has lived in Boulder Meadows since 2012, without providing written notice. 

The argument is based on a decades-old law, the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act, which is designed to prevent the displacement of mobile and manufactured homeowners, who are particularly susceptible to housing insecurity because they often do not own the land beneath their homes.  

Continue reading…

Boulder Reporting Lab’s publisher named a Reynolds Journalism Institute 2023-24 fellow

By BRL Staff

May 2, 2023

The fellowship supports individuals and organizations in building practical and innovative projects for community-centered news.

Continue reading…

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Get involved

🐶 Pick up your dog’s poop: The city is trying to make picking up poop fun by giving out swag and reminding residents they’ll be fined if they don’t. On May 7, from 9 a.m. to noon in various locations including Dry Creek Trailhead, Coot Lake, and North Shore of Boulder Reservoir, the “Let’s DOO It!” campaign will take place. Those who stop by could get a bandana for their dog, and have the opportunity to take a pledge to clean up their dog waste.

Dog poop harms water quality and can wear on native plants. So carry poop bags, more than you think you need. In case you don’t feel bad enough about the poop you leave behind, city staff will spend their time on May 4 planting flags by each pile left at the Dry Creek trailhead, Coot Lake and the North Shore of Reservoir to show just how many there are.

🔥 Be wildfire ready: The Boulder Rotary Club is teaming up with the city’s Office of Emergency Management to try to get all Boulderites signed up for emergency alerts. Visit the Rotary website to see all necessary links, and read BRL’s coverage of the issue.

For ideas on what else to do, check out BRL’s Local Events page.


Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email: tim@boulderreportinglab.org.