No help for flooded out Paradise Hills homeowners after massive June 20 deluge

An intense and fast-moving storm on June 20, 2024 in Grand Junction caused a massive flood in the Paradise Hills subdivision, filling residents’ homes, back yards, basements and crawl spaces with muddy water, ruining their drywall, carpeting, cupboards and flooring, crashing down fences in yards and drowning backyard chickens. Senior meteorologist Tom Renwick of the National Weather Service in a story on Colorado Public Radio called the storm “incredible.” He said, “We couldn’t see more than maybe five feet out the door. It was remarkable.”

Remarkable, indeed.

One affected resident, Darla Green, attended a Paradise Hills HOA meeting right after the flood and estimated that 60-70 homes were involved and the damage they described cost well over a million dollars.

So far though, Paradise Hills residents have been left totally on their own to recover from what was essentially a man-made flood caused by totally inadequate drainage.

None of the affected homeowners had flood insurance, so they are spending their savings or retirement funds to try to remediate their homes. One owner’s whole first floor was filled with mud, forcing the family to live on the second floor of their home since the flood. Darla Green said she spent $15,000, all of her savings, on cleaning up just her crawl space. She pointed out that crawl space remediation in the area costs more than it might normally be because many owners had radon mitigation measures, like plastic lining and electric fans, in their crawlspaces to keep them ventilated. The flood also rendered a large number Paradise Hills home unsellable because the inadequate drainage poses an ongoing threat of another flood whenever the next big downpour hits. Homeowners are petrified that after spending their savings and retirement funds on remediating the damage from this event, another storm will devastate their homes again.

Google Earth photo of the area affected by the Paradise Hills flood and the drainage that caused the flood (outlined in yellow lines). The storm water flowed off the city-and- county-owned G.J. airport property. The drainage on the residential side adjacent to the Highline Canal starts off big — about 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep — but narrows to just 4-5 feet wide and 3-4 feet deep by the time it hits the first bend, forcing the water and mud that poured off the adjacent desert to spill out into homes in Paradise Hills.

Trying to find help is greatly complicated by all the entities that contributed to the flood and the fractionated nature of the affected areas.

Mud and debris at this abandoned home on Catalina Drive in Paradise Corner shows the height the flood waters reached there on 6/20

The waterline at Jim Ciha’s house on Malibu Drive in Paradise Hills. So far he and his wife have paid $2,100 to get the crawl space cleaned and he admits he had far less damage than many other homeowners in the area. The entire first floor of his neighbor’s house was flooded with muddy water, and those neighbors are now living on the second floor of their home.

The water that flooded Paradise Hills came off the city-and- county-owned Grand Junction Regional Airport. For years the airport has been expanding west towards Paradise Hills and for the last several years its ongoing runway construction project has been altering the topography at the west end of the airport. The June 20 stormwater flowed off airport property into a retention pond the City of Grand Junction built around 2012 on land maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The purpose of the City-built retention pond, according to Chapter 4 of the Airport’s Environmental Assessment for the its runway expansion project, was to protect Paradise Hills from stormwater runoff, but it is clearly failing. After filling the City’s inadequate retention pond, the June 20 stormwater traveled under the Highline Canal through a concrete drainage structure built by the Army Corps of Engineers and into a channel created by the developer of Filing 7 of Paradise Hills, Robert L. Bray and Bray & Company Real Estate, circa 1993-94. The drainage is labeled in the original subdivision plans as “Private Open Space,” making it the property of the Paradise Hills Homeowners Association (HOA), which claims its only mandate is to manage the subdivision’s irrigation system, not any open space or drainages.

Further complicating things, Paradise Hills is made up of more than just one subdivision. Some parts are wholly separate subdivisions, like Paradise Corner, built in 1994 and formerly called “The Moses Subdivision,” which consists of 11 homes off the intersection of Catalina Drive and 26 1/2 Road, and a 4-lot subdivision adjacent to Paradise Corner called North View, built in 1978.

1993 plat map for Paradise Hills Filing #7. Arrows point to the faulty drainage channel (labeled “Tract A”), created by the developer that spilled flood water throughout the neighborhood in the June 20 storm. Note that the drainage channel is labeled “Private Open Space,” while the Paradise Hills HOA seems unaware it owns any private open space.

So far the City of Grand Junction hasn’t lifted a finger to help the affected Paradise Hills homeowners. The Grand Valley Drainage District and Army Corps of Engineers also disavow any responsibility for the flood, and the Department of Local Affairs has been useless despite having a “Disaster Recovery and Resilience Program.” In March, 2024, FEMA started a program to help individual property owners recover from natural disasters, but in order for homeowners to be eligible for it, the President has to declare the area a disaster area, and no government entity has requested it.

Making matters worse, back in 2016 the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and Mesa County teamed up to sue the Drainage District to block a $3/month per homeowner stormwater fee the Drainage District had levied to generate funds to beef up stormwater drainage in the area north of the Colorado River. The Chamber and County called it an “unconstitutional tax,” won a court judgment against the Drainage District and forced the District to refund all the money it had collected to homeowners and businesses. After this, no entity in the County ever took any steps to improve the drainage situation in the area, leaving residents facing disaster.

Paradise Hills HOA President Austin Erickson seemed completely unaware that Paradise Hills owns any private open space, telling a KREX-TV reporter on June 26 that “he plans on appearing before Grand Junction City Council to learn who might be responsible for maintaining that creek.”

Given all of the entities that contributed to the flood — the city and the county via ownership of the expanding G.J. Airport adjacent to Paradise Hills, and the Bray realtors who developed Paradise Hills — and all the different entities affected by the flood, including residents of Paradise Hills, Paradise Corner and the North View subdivisions, it’s clear that this is a vastly complicated situation that will take a government to step in and coordinate assistance and modification of the drainage, and help the affected homeowners get help to fund their recovery.

By all rights that entity should be the City as the one unifying entity in all of this.

Grand Junction City code says,

28.16.120 Drainage facilities maintenance.

An important part of all storm drainage facilities is continued maintenance of the facilities to ensure they will function as designed. Maintenance of drainage facilities includes a number of routine tasks, such as removal of debris and sediment, and nonroutine tasks, such as restoring damaged structures.

All drainage facilities will be maintained to preserve their function, and shall:….

…Be maintained by the property owner, the developer and/or a homeowners’ association. Should the property owner fail to adequately maintain drainage facilities, the right is reserved [by the City] to enter the property, upon proper notice, for the purpose of performing drainage maintenance. All maintenance costs shall be assessed against the owner(s) of the property.”

So under its charter, the City can step in, do the maintenance on the drainage to prevent more damage to homes in Paradise Hills, and then levy the cost of the maintenance against all the homeowners in all the affected subdivisions.

But so far no entity has taken any steps to help the struggling homeowners, even in a non-monetary way. They’re all just turning a blind eye to the homeowners’ plight.

Paradise Hills is in City Council District B, and Jason Nguyen is their City Councilman (970-244-1504 is the City Council Comment Line) and it is in County Commissioner District 2, represented by Commissioner Bobbie Daniel. Her phone number is 970-244-1885 or you can contact her with this contact form.

Affected homeowner Jim Ciha took the video below of the flood in his backyard on June 20. He admits the damage he sustained to his yard, fence and crawlspace were far less than that other homeowners incurred:

Defrauded by a dealership and can’t afford to sue? There’s another way to get compensation: Make a claim against the dealership’s surety bond.

Did you buy a vehicle from a local dealership only to find out later you were defrauded in some way? Can’t afford an attorney to help?

Fortunately, there’s another, completely unpublicized way car buyers can get compensation for a fraudulent deal committed by a dealership.

Surety bonds

Colorado law requires every licensed motor vehicle dealer to carry a surety bond. The bond is meant to protect customers from fraudulent business practices.

A surety bond guarantees financial compensation to customers who incur monetary loss as a result of an auto dealer’s fraud, negligence or failure to comply with all of Colorado’s laws and ethical guidelines that govern the sale of vehicles.  In order to get a dealer’s license from the state, all dealerships must purchase a surety bond to the amount of $50,000. Individual salespeople must also be bonded, to the amount of $15,000.

If you have evidence that a dealership committed fraud in your deal, for example if you found forged signatures on contracts or agreements, found extra charges were added were to your contract without your knowledge, the dealership submitted false information about your finances and the vehicle you were buying to lenders on your credit application (like inflating your gross salary or the length of time you’ve lived at your current residence, or claimed to lenders that your vehicle has fancier features like leather seats and a sunroof when it doesn’t), or if you were charged a higher interest rate than expected on your loan without your knowing, or if you were charged a higher price than the advertised price, or if the dealer told you had to buy additional products in order to buy the vehicle you wanted, or if the dealership submitted fake utility bills in your name to lenders, you can make a claim against the dealership’s surety bond to recoup the loss you incurred from the fraud.

Above is an excerpt from a 2023 lawsuit (pdf) brought by a Grand Junction couple against Red Rock Auto/Red Rock Hyundai describing how they discovered Red Rock Hyundai had fabricated XCel and AT&T bills in their names to include with the credit application for a loan on their vehicle. Neither one of the couple has an AT&T account.

How to file a claim against a dealership’s surety bond:

1) Identify the insurer that sold the dealer the bond**,

2) Contact the insurer and ask them to tell you their procedure for filing a claim,

3) Gather evidence of the fraud, for example the documents from your sale, your credit application, dates and times the fraud happened, the names of employees involved, copies of your signature if you think your signature was forged, a full description of what happened, the amount of money you are out because of the deal and the basis for the figure, and submit it all to the insurer with a letter saying “Dealership [fill in name]” defrauded you and you want to make a claim against the dealership’s surety bond.

The insurer will investigate your claim and pay you after they verify the facts of the case.

**How do you find out which insurer holds a dealership’s surety bond?

It’s public information that’s buried on the Auto Industry Division’s website. Here’s how to find it:

  1. Go to sbg.colorado.gov/auto-industry
  2. Scroll down to the blue “Quick Links” bar and click on it for the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on the link for”Active Facility License Listings.”
  4. In the bulleted sentence right below the page title, click on the blue link for “Active License Lookup.”
  5. In the Active License Lookup web form, click the blue link in the third bulleted sentence that says “Click here to search for a facility instead of a person.”
  6. In the facility search form, type the name of the dealership. [Hint: For the best result, use broad search criteria. For example, if you’re looking for Red Rock Nissan, just type “Red Rock.” If you’re looking for Grand Valley Auto, just type “Grand Valley.”]
  7. Mug shot of Tiffany Momilani Miller, former Red Rock GMC financial manager, who was arrested for forgery, criminal impersonation and identity theft last year

    In the search result box, click on the blue name of the dealership.

  8. Scroll down to the dealership’s “License Bond Information.” You’ll see the name of the company that holds the bond for the dealership, and the bond number, which is like an insurance policy number.
  9. Put the name of the bond issuing company into a Google search to get the company’s contact information. Call the company and ask them to tell you their process to file a claim against a dealership’s surety bond.

Above is the page on the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry website with the surety bond information for Red Rock Hyundai, naming the bond company and the bond number.

Surety bonds protect customers from financial losses they incur from doing business with an unscrupulous auto dealer. It’s free to file a claim against a dealer’s surety bond, so if you were defrauded in the course of buying a car, file a claim to get compensation for the fraudulent deal. The bond company will pay you and then seek reimbursement from the dealer.

Also…Report the fraud to law enforcement

Dealers that use fraudulent practices will continue doing so until they get caught and sent to jail, because they make a lot of money off such crimes.

First, report the crime to the Colorado Dealer Board by filing an electronic complaint online with the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division. 

So far, the City of Grand Junction has had the best track record of arresting bad actors in the car dealerships here. The Grand Junction Police Department Financial Crimes Reporting form is here.(pdf)  If you were the victim of fraud at a

Local TV ad by Red Rock Auto

dealership inside city limits, fill out the G.J.P.D.’s financial fraud packet, file it with the G.J.P.D., meet with a cop to explain how you were defrauded, and include a copy of your fraud packet with the documents you send to the surety bond company.

You can also report the crime to the Colorado state Attorney General as an automotive complaint and write reviews on sites like Google Reviews, Yelp, Cars.com, the Better Business Bureau, etc.

The more records you make of the crime and the more such crimes get reported, the better off everyone will be, and the easier it will be to make a solid case to the surety bond provider so you can get your money back. And it’s free to do all of this, except for the time it takes to do it.

Note that all of the crimes in the following video have been committed locally by a notorious auto dealer that has five stores in Grand Junction, so it pays to know how to make a claim against a dealer’s surety bond to get compensation for a financial rip off:

The right wing’s Project 2025, to be implemented in a 2nd Trump presidency, will impose Christian nationalism, restrict reproductive & LGBTQ+ rights, dismantle the FBI & DOJ and move America towards a more authoritarian regime

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the entire country, as Trump supporters have created comprehensive plan to curtail American freedoms, impose Christian ideals on all citizens and end human and civil rights as we’ve known them in America if Trump re-takes the presidency in the November general election.

Red Rock elevates former owner, who presided over frauds and arrests, to General Manager over all five dealerships

Red Rock Nissan at 2582 Highway 6 & 50 in Grand Junction

In February, 2024, the sole local owner of Red Rock Auto dealerships, Bryan Knight, was removed from the Auto Industry Division’s list of owners of the business. The change came about after two years of customers and former employees  speaking up about the questionable business practices the dealerships were found to be using under Knight’s ownership. Yet despite Knight getting booted as an owner, he was reportedly still present and working at the dealerships. So with all that has been revealed about how Red Rock was operating in Grand Junction to the detriment of the community, why would the other owners of Red Rock Auto decide to push Knight out, only to keep him around with a hand in the business?

New information explains why.

Tractor Supply throws LGBTQ+ customers and investors under the bus

Tractor Supply Company, a farm, ranch and feed company which previously had touted its efforts at diversity and inclusion, did an about-face June 27 after it issued a press release saying it will stop sponsoring events like gay pride festivals and voter registration drives, stop submitting data to the Human Rights Campaign, eliminate its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) roles, “retire” its DEI goals and will “withdraw our carbon emission goals and focus on our land and water conservation efforts.”

The company says they “work hard every day” to “represent the values of the communities and customers we serve. We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them. We have taken this feedback to heart.”

Commissioners planning to close Mesa County Animal Services

The Mesa County Commissioners are quietly planning to close Mesa County Animal Services, according to an item on their public hearing agenda for Tuesday, July 2 at 9:00 a.m. (pdf). The meeting will be held at the old courthouse, 544 Rood Ave., second floor.

Word from volunteers at local animal shelters who are alarmed by the agenda item is that the Commissioners plan to close the Animal Services building in Whitewater and terminate all Animal Services employees except for four, who will move to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. They will no longer have a care facility for animals.

Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis (R), running for re-election this year, is among the commissioners planning to close Mesa County Animal Services

After closing Animal Services, the Commissioners then want to rebuild the agency from scratch.

The full agenda item reads:

“Consider approving the County Administrator’s ending current municipal contracts and exploring a Request For Proposal for animal shelter services, and authorize the County Administrator to sign letters to municipalities. (Matt Lewis, Justice Services Director)”

The item is under “Item(s) Needing Individual Consideration,” on page 2 of the agenda.(pdf)

Local animal shelter volunteers are asking people to attend this meeting or weigh in with the Commissioners to protest the closure, since it will put tremendous pressure on other animal shelters in the area that are already cash strapped to house and care for the area’s lost and homeless animals.

The public can attend the meeting in person or by Zoom, and can send an email to all of the commissioners at once at mcbocc@mesacounty.us.

Zoom Meeting Info:

Note that participants cannot comment on agenda items during the “Public Comment” portion of the agenda. That time is reserved only for items that are not on the agenda. You can comment on the agenda item at the time the it is heard and discussed by the commissioners, but public comments are limited to a maximum of three (3) minutes per speaker, unless otherwise further restricted by the Chair of the commission.

To attend and comment virtually, you’ll need to fist complete the “Public Hearing Participation Sign Up” form on the County’s website no later than 8:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting.

Zoom meeting link for the Tuesday, 7/2 meeting:

Meeting ID: 896 1946 4916

No passcode is given, so a passcode may not be necessary.

If you are attending the meeting by Zoom and want to submit a comment on the County Commissioners’ planned closure of Animal Services, you can send an email to all of the commissioners at once at mcbocc@mesacounty.us

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland (R), who lost her June 25th primary election bid to get a fourth term as commissioner

 

Mesa County Commissioner Bobbie Daniel (R), shown with indicted former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters

 

 

Rowland booted as commissioner

Results as of 10:25 p.m. Tuesday night

Political newcomer J.J. Fletcher of Palisade won by a wide margin over longtime career politician Janet Rowland in the primary election for District 3 Mesa County Commissioner.

Rowland conceded the race this morning via a brief Facebook post. 

Rowland losing commissioner race to JJ Fletcher by a wide margin in preliminary results in Republican primary election

This was the unofficial result as of 8:40 p.m. on election night. It changed little in the two hours after that. County residents seem to have developed a case of Janet fatigue. 

Janet Rowland appears to have worn our her welcome as Mesa County Commissioner in the 2024 primary election. Preliminary results at 8:40 p.m. showed her losing to JJ Fletcher by about 10 percentage points, with the result unchanged in the hours after that.

Soon to be former Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland

U.S. Surgeon General calls gun violence “an urgent public health crisis in America”

For the first time the U.S. Surgeon General of the United States has issued an urgent warning about gun violence in America, calling it a public health crisis.

Dr. Vivek Murthy says that in 2020, firearm‑related injuries became the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the U.S., surpassing motor vehicle crashes, cancer, and drug overdose and poisoning.  He further says that almost 6 in 10 U.S. adults say that they worry “sometimes,” “almost every day,” or “every day,” about a loved one being a victim of firearm violence, and that such high levels of exposure to firearm violence for both children and adults in the U.S. “give rise to a cycle of trauma and fear within our communities, contributing to the nation’s mental health crisis.”

The Mesa County Public Health Department says “is it worth noting that Mesa County has one of the highest rates of gun deaths in Colorado and, per capita, even the United States.” There were 95 recorded deaths by firearms in Mesa County from 2020 to 2022.

People are living in fear in the U.S.

Nationwide, sales of bullet proof backpacks for children soar at the beginning of the school year. In 2019, the American Psychological Association reported that one third of U.S. adults say fear of mass shootings is keeping them from going to certain places and events, and it’s clear that the increase in public gun massacres is taking a toll on our collective mental health in America and affecting the way many people are living their daily lives. To understand why people fear the now massive prevalence of guns in the U.S., you need only look at this groundbreaking November, 2023 report by Washington Post on the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in 2022.

Elected officials who feel the weight of this moral crisis of inaction on the issue of firearm violence in the U.S. and want to know what policies actually work to reduce firearm injuries and deaths, and which don’t, can access this report by the Rand Corporation, updated in 2023, that analyzes the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of a wide range of gun policies, and makes recommendations for the most effective policies to implement.

If you know of someone who possesses firearms and is posing a risk to themselves or others, you can access instructions on how to access Colorado’s Red Flag law in Mesa County here.