Monday, May 28, 2007

FIRE SAFETY: The majority of homes now have smoke detectors; unfortunately, too many of them are not functioning properly. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the number of homes with non-functioning smoke alarms now outnumber the households with no alarms at all. Missing batteries or disconnected alarms account for over 50% of non-working alarms; dead batteries account for another 20%. In addition, most homes with smoke alarms do not have a unit on every floor.

It is easy to forget that a smoke alarm’s sole function is to sound a warning. Fire spreads fast and smoke is toxic. Generally, when the smoke from a fire triggers an alarm, there is less than three minutes to get to safety. Failure to rapidly respond when an alarm sounds is a leading cause of fire casualties.

The NFPA offers the following tips for the testing and maintenance of smoke alarms:

*Choose a smoke alarm that bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

*Install a smoke alarm in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home.

*For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all should sound.

*Test your smoke alarms at least every month. Use the test button or an approved smoke substitute and clean the units, all in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.

*Do not use an open-flame device for testing because of the danger the flame could pose.

*Install a new battery in all conventional smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low.

*Replace smoke alarms that use extended life (10-year) batteries when the alarm chirps or fails to respond to periodic testing. The batteries in these units cannot be replaced.

*Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

*Make sure everyone in the household can hear the smoke alarm(s) when sleeping. Not everyone is easily roused by the sound of an alarm; do a practice run.

*Special smoke alarms are made for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These smoke alarms use strobe (flashing) lights. The use of vibration devices may provide additional benefit in some cases.

Friday, May 25, 2007

AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on 50 units of affordable housing in Fox Farm Village in Bayfield.

The 9.5 acres development takes its name from a commercial fox farm that operated on the site about 70 years ago.

Three non-profits have spoken for 32 of the 50 two and three bedroom units. Housing Solutions for the Southwest will build 14, Colorado Housing Inc. will build 10, and Habitat for Humanity is scheduled to build 8.

Colorado Housing expects to break ground this summer. The units will be built by the buyers, who contribute 600 hours of construction labor under the direction of a contractor.

Habitat for Humanity projects require buyers to supply 350 to 500 hours of labor but the all work need not be on the job site. Home buyers can work in the organization store or participate in events to fulfill their obligation. /

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NEW HOME SALES: A big drop in the price of the typical new home sold in April spurred much better than expected sales, according to the latest government reading.

New homes sold nationally at an annual pace of 981,000 in April, up 16.2 percent from the revised pace in March. The gain in sales compared to March is the biggest jump in 14 years.

Builders are dropping prices and clearing out excess inventory. If the trend continues, the troubled markets of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Las Vegas and San Diego will stabilize, the pre-owned home market will improve and folks wanting to relocate to Durango will have an easier time doing so. This is good. /

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MORE CONDOS: The City of Durango's Planning Commission has recommended annexation of a 3.5 acre tract near Escalante Middle School and approval of a conceptual planned development design for the piece of land with some conditions.

Out of the 63 planned condominiums about 7 or 8 will sell for less than $200,000 according to the architect. He said the project is geared toward people who earn their living in Durango.

The development, which has now been named Cliffside, will be built on the site formerly occupied by Ted's Rental immediately south of the old Rocket Drive-In.

The current design for Cliffside includes condominiums ranging from 630 square feet to 2,500 square feet and about 22,000 square feet of commercial and office space.

Both the annexation proposal and conceptual development plan will go before City Council at its next meeting. /

Sunday, May 20, 2007

BAYFIELD: The yearlong Bayfield sanitation crisis is over. The Town Board voted unanimously to rescind Resolution 208, which imposed a sewer tap moratorium in February that effectively halted all new construction.

The crisis may be over, but Town Manager Justin Clifton said town staff and all users of the sewer system still have a lot of work to do to ensure that the moratorium remains lifted.

Reaction from frustrated builders was relief tinged by lingering resentment that the situation got as bad as it did. /

Thursday, May 17, 2007

SELF-HELP HOUSING: A reduction in federal funding is cramping the style of Colorado Housing Inc., the largest provider of self-help housing in Southwest Colorado, according to the agency's board president.

Nevertheless, CHI received $559,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's rural development arm to build 23 single family units in Archuleta, La Plata and Montezuma counties in the next two years.

Self-help housing, also known as sweat-equity, requires buyers to contribute 600 hours of construction labor to their project under the direction of a contractor.

Families whose income doesn't exceed 80 percent of the area median income may apply for the self-help program. The median income for La Plata County is $60,000. Eligibility for the self-help program, with adjustment made for family size, is calculated from this base figure. /

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

PRICES: The median price for an in-town Durango home slipped in the first quarter to $388,250, according to statistics released by the Durango Area Association of Realtors. That's down 1 percent from the first quarter of 2006.

The median price of all homes sold in La Plata County also dropped slightly, from $345,000 to$328,000.

The total number of sales of in-town homes, 38, was up as compared to 30 in the first quarter of 2006. However, county wide sales totaled 83 compared to 99 in the first quarter of 2006. This softening of the county-wide market was also reflected in the number of days on the market, a 4 percent increase over 2006.

We'll keep you posted. /

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

CLUSTERED HOUSING: Clustered housing developments have been touted as one solution for managed growth that allows for development while preserving open space in rural areas. Our La Plata County Planning Department is fixated on this concept. But some wildlife experts believe that unless new developments are properly planned, clustered housing is no more effective at preserving wildlife habitat than farms or suburban neighborhoods.

In a clustered housing development, homes are built in a central area with each having a small yard, and the entire development is surrounded by communal open space. In traditional or dispersed developments houses and land parcels are typically spread throughout the area.

Conservation based developments are a must as we continue to grow. But whether we cluster or not, we need to understand that human activity negatively impacts wildlife and we must plan properly to minimize that impact. /

Friday, May 11, 2007


A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all thing and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

.....Agatha Christie

A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.

.....Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Call your Mom! /

Thursday, May 10, 2007

MOTHERS: Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world.

.....Kate Douglas Wiggin

Happy Mothers' Day! /

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

HOME VALUES: Signs nationally point to a softening of the housing market but don't try and tell that to property owners in La Plata County. Homeowners have just received notices that the assessed value of their homes increased about 24 percent in the last 2 years.

While residential properties increased in value between 20 to 24 percent, vacant land jumped 35 percent on average depending on location and proximity to water and sewer services. Condominiums rose about 30 percent and even 38 percent near Durango Mountain Resort.

If we can assist you with your Durango real estate needs, give us a call or email. /

Monday, May 07, 2007


National: The national unemployment rate for the month of March, 2007 was 4.4 percent, down .1 percent from the month of February.

State: The state unemployment for the month of February was 4.1 percent, which is down .5 percent from the month of January. This rate is .3 percent lower that the national rate.

La Plata County: La Plata County, Colorado, boasts an unemployment rate for the month of February, 2007 of 3.0 percent. down .5 percent from January. This rate is 1.4 percent lower than the national average and 1.1 percent lower than the state average noted for the same month.

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment /

Sunday, May 06, 2007

SHOPPING GREEN: We, as consumers, can each make a difference. Here is a short checklist for making your dollars do the most work:

* Buy Local: Buying local supports your local economy and reduces energy consumption required by the global transport of goods. Our Farmer's Market is going to open soon. It's a terrific place to shop.

* Reduce, reuse: Avoid waste and make things last. Don't let a little wear send you on a needless shopping spree.

* Buy recycled products: The recycling loop isn't complete until the materials collected at curb-side and drop-off sites are remanufactured into new products and purchased by consumers. Buy paper with the highest percentage of "post consumer waste" (PCW). Office Depot will accept and recycle your used HP ink cartridges in exchange for a ream of their recycled paper.

* Buy energy efficient products: Whether it's a car or a computer, choose the most energy efficient model. For electrical appliances, look for the Energy Star logo.

* Avoid excess packaging: A large percentage of our municipal solid waste stream is the result of unnecessary packaging. Select products that are not over-packaged and reuse or recycle packaging. At the check-out counter when asked "Do you need a bag?" if at all possible say, "No thank you."

* Avoid polyvinyl chloride, or "PVC:" Often labeled as "Number 3" plastic, PVC is a leading source of dioxin in the environment.

* Look for the green label: Look for labels that let you know the produce is certified as environmentally friendly but don't blindly accept a produce that calls itself "green." Do your homework! /

Friday, May 04, 2007

GREEN POWER: Showing social responsibility and concern for the planet, businesses in La Plata and Archuleta counties are stepping up to go 100 percent Green or, more exactly, to pay a premium to offset 100 percent of their power with renewable resources, which is currently wind-generated power.

Several businesses have joined the "100% Club," and Ray Pierotti, LPEA's project specialist, reports an ever increasing interest. A natural competitiveness does seem to be emerging.

To support the effort by local businesses, LPEA is exploring an amendment to the Green Badge of Honor sticker that announces participation in the Green Power program. The "100% Club" will become a reality in coming months. Watch for signs on participating businesses.

Among the early participants are Nature's Oasis and Durango Natural Foods, both concerned retailers supporting natural foods and local sustainability.

We are loyal customers of both establishments and appreciate their contributions to the "Green" movement. Thanks, guys!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

MORATORIUM: In a move that may signal the leanings of our new city council, councilors voted 5-0 last Tuesday night to impose a six-month moratorium on new development along the Animas River. The moratorium is intended to allow time for the council and city planning staff to create a new section of the Comprehensive Plan specific to the river corridor between 15th and 9th streets.

Both the city staff and Planning Director advised the council to use the Planned Development process that is already in place. The council elected, however, to install the moratorium.

At first glance it appears that this council, while not anti-development, is certainly not as developer friendly as its predecessor. /

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

ELECTRICAL SAFETY: May is National Electrical Safety Month. Doing its part, the Electrical Safety Foundation International has created a free, downloadable safety checklist for the home.

Covering every room, from the kitchen to the basement, the checklist guides users through their home's electrical systems with a series of questions and suggested action items.

To test the safety of your home, download ESFI's Indoor Electrical Safety Checklist at /

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

LOCAL PRONUNCIATIONS: Durango is truly a tri-ethnic community. Native American, Hispanic and Anglo blend together and create a community environment not commonly found in today's society. As a result of our rich heritage many of our towns, streets, lakes and rivers are names from these diverse cultures and proper pronunciation is sometimes strange to the out-of-towner. Here's a primer:

* Saguache - suh watch' (for most folks, its a wide spot in the road on the way to Denver.

* Towaoc - toy' yock (Ute Mountain community south of Cortez)

* Florida (river, road, mesa) - flo ree' duh (please; not as in Miami)

* Ouray - yoo ray' (ooh ray' may be more correct, but to sound like a local say it with a "y")

* Silverton - sil' ver tun (please, not sil' ver "town")

* Mancos - man' cuss (not man' coes - if you want to sound like a local)

* Goeglein Gulch - gig' line

* Ignacio - ig nash' shee oh ( maybe ig naw' see oh is ok but locals use the nash)

* Kroegers - kray' gers (not kro' gers)

* Olathe - oh lay' thuh (don't forget the "thuh")

* Toh-Atin - toe' un' tin' (kinda equally spread with each syllable)

* Notah Dineh - noe' taw dee' nay

* Jicarilla - hick' uh ree' uh ( an Apache tribe)

* Animas - ann' ih muss (awn' ih moss is correct only when saying Rio de las Animas Perdidas)

* Escalante - ess cuh lawn' tay

* Mesa Verde - may' suh vurd ey

* Vallecity - vye uh see' toe (saying "val" is a dead giveaway you're a tourist)

* Arboles - ar' bow lezz'

* Piedra - pee ay' druh

With a little practice we'll have you talking like a local in no time. Come to see us! /