Scott Ford: What is gained?


I saw a bumper sticker on a car in my neighborhood that read, "I Support Steamboat 700."

Prior to the City Council meeting Sept. 29, big, blue sticker buttons with the same message were being passed out.

There is a great temptation to frame the current annexation proposal in "political campaign" terms, i.e., "I win and you lose."

This rancorous approach does little to serve the process and only fosters unnecessary community divisiveness. What is gained?

I hope we can tone down the campaign-like rhetoric so the focus of our collective energy can be on evaluating the proposed annexation agreement solely on its merits.

Simply put, does the annexation agreement meet the goals of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan? What tradeoffs have been made in exchange for tangible long-term public benefit?

Is this the best agreement we can hope for?

Right now, as elected community representatives using their very best judgment, City Council needs to answer these questions.

We are depending on them to do the necessary due diligence and fiduciary oversight critical in evaluating this agreement.

A time may come for campaign stickers and slogans - but now is not that time. With a decision of this magnitude, nobody wins if we do not get it right at this stage in the process.

Scott Ford

Steamboat Springs


aichempty 7 years, 5 months ago


You are right. The win-lose paradigm is not productive. Win-win is always better, but it usually requires an adjustment of attitudes.

So how about realizing that the fifteen-year-old West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan is outdated and modify the expectations so something meaningful can be done? You know, the idea that something better is preferable to nothing at all? That one?

Fifteen years ago, there was no collapse of the mortgage market to deal with. Fifteen years ago, a house that sold for $216,000 wasn't sitting on land currently valued by the assessor at over $400,000.00 (not including the value of the house).

Things have changed . . . well, everything except the "plan" has changed. So, it's time to change the plan.

The recent report on US 40 congestion merely verified what those of us with a bit of imagination already knew. Widening US 40 just moves the traffic jam to 13th Street. How is that better?

The thing we really need is a trailer park on the east/south side of town, regardless of whether tourists will see it when they drive in on 131 or US 40.

It has taken Steamboat Lakes Subdivision (just north of Clark) ten years to grow 50 homes. What about Stagecoach?

Maybe instead of 2000 new homesites on the edge of town, we could use a Routt County Transit Authority to run buses out to where the homesites already exist. If the school system can do it to get kids back and forth, then a government authority can also do it for commuters and get federal funding to help pay the bills.

Dispersal of the population and public transportation to serve the commuters is at least as good an idea as adding a thousand cars to the mess at 13th Street.

There's not just one good idea. There are plenty of good ideas. Abandoning an obsolete plan that lacks support by today's residents and doing something that makes sense today is one good idea, and we can find more if we try.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 5 months ago

Scott Scott, You have indicated that this issue should go to a vote. When this is open to everyone, to some the stickers may be the total input that they receive. Assure me that the voters are informed and I will agree with your assessment. Having uninformed people decide our future is the height of insanity. When we are in battle do we take a vote before the operation, what do you think the decision would be? We need to go with our starters, it is not time to clean the bench. If 700 goes down I think it will certainly polarize the community.


Scott Ford 7 years, 5 months ago

Hi Fred - Will there be some voters that will not spend the time to understand the key issues? Absolutely! However, I think "Joe/Sue" citizen can sift through issues associated with annexation, synthesize them, and make an informed decision. I do not think this is a Pollyanna perspective nor does it diminish the important representative role elected members of City Council must play. I have trust in the voters of Steamboat Springs.

To be clear it is anything but a sure thing that there will be a public vote. I am not that sure, that those that want to a public referendum on this issue will get organized enough to submit a petition, let alone get enough signatures to request a special election within the required timeframe. I am OK with that. It is obvious that the developer and City Council anticipated a strong likelihood of a public vote - because the annexation agreement contains details how the process is to occur.

The question is simple. Can we trust the voters of Steamboat Springs? If not, when can we trust them?


David Hill 7 years, 5 months ago

The WSSAP may have been fifteen years in the making but it was last updated in June 2006 so it is rather erroneous to say the plan is 15 years old, out of date, and shouldn't be considered. It would appear the process that has been followed in developing the WSSAP is a logical and well thought out plan that has had significant opportunity to receive input from the community at large. While to the layman it may seem counterintuitive, higher density developments such as the SB 700 development actually provide for much more efficient transportation solutions, creating less traffic per unit by concentrating trips in a smaller area, and can better support alternative modes of transportation. These lessons of urban planning have been experienced throughout the country and those that have been successful have followed a similar approach to that which Steamboat has undertaken for the past 15 years.

Any ideas that transit can be used to support travel in a sparsely populated area is pure lunacy. Transit currently only accounts for about 2% of the trips in Steamboat. Without high density development the cost per rider to extend transit service to some of the proposed outlying areas as mentioned by Aichempty would be an enormous burden on the taxpayers.

There are numerous examples of areas that have tried to minimize growth and limit the size of development and the result has been urban sprawl that generates significantly more traffic without any individual development large enough to contribute significant dollars to the needed infrastructure improvements. The problems on US 40 already exist and will only continue to get worse with little probability of additional funding without SB 700. As a transportation professional with 30 years of experience I fully support the annexation of SB 700 as being in the best long term interest of the Steamboat area.

I have a second home in Steamboat and hope to eventually retire there, and have nothing personally to gain from the project, but would hope that all of the hard and thoughtful work that has gone into both the WSSAP and the SB700 annexation agreement is not wasted based on unfounded fears in the community. The areas that have adequately planned for their future growth in ways similar to the WSSAP and SB700 have been able to manage the growth and minimize the impacts much more successfully than those that failed to plan or tried to limit growth.


aichempty 7 years, 5 months ago


There's nothing "urban" about this place.

This place will never BE urban. It's among the most rural areas in the lower 48. Your rules don't apply here. Neither do the assumptions put out by the SB700 developers who want to build a Las Vegas high-density development in a town without jobs to fund the potential homes.

Even the assumption made by the Pilot staff that Steamboat has the water available to support the develpment fails to realize that dedicating the remaining exisitng water capacity to SB700 means there will be none left for anywhere else. Know what that will do? Drive up the SB700 prices to be just like every other overpriced shack in oldtown.

Approval of SB700 puts all our eggs in one basket and guarantees that if money is to be made, it goes to SB700 developers, or nowhere.


JLM 7 years, 5 months ago

The worst thing possible is to do nothing.

Win-win v win-lose is all a frame of mind. While it is an interesting observation and Scott Ford's description is fair and accurate the real question is --- is it relevant? To anything?

The development of a city is the clash amongst entrepreneurs, futurists, NIMBYs, anti-growth forces and the usual cast of interested parties. This conflict should result in compromises which make a good plan better or which stymie a bad plan.

It ain't bean bag and the idea that the annointing of winners and losers is not a logical outgrowth of the resolution of conflict is a great concept for kindergarten tee ball but it is not reality.

Folks elect representatives to do their bidding but most importantly to make tough decisions. If the tough decisions are going to thrown back to the electorate, then the idea of representative democracy falls on its ear.

Analyze, decide and get on with it! There are likely no new facts to be divined, so it is decision time. Do it!


cindy constantine 7 years, 5 months ago

Scott, I have a few questions regarding demographics which has been my concern all along. I talked with 2 30year+ residents that indicated the population of Steamboat went from 7,000-12,000 in 30 years(5,000 new residents). Is that correct? Also it appears that there has been a growth of seniors (65 years old+) during the past 10 years in our community. Is that correct? My reading indicates that the skiing population has been shrinking since 2000. Can you verify that? Those of us in our early 50's are at the tail end of the baby boom generation and it is a fact that we have greater assets as a group than the generations coming up behind us (although they have shrunk dramatically in the past two years). We know about foreclosure trends and the current trend of people leaving the valley perhaps for the next several years. Do you think it is likely that Steamboat will grow by 6,000-6,500 people in the next 20 years? Just asking your opinion since you have the ability to glean answers to these questions. Thank you


Scott Ford 7 years, 5 months ago

Hi Cindy - Sorry for the delay in responding. Yesterday was a very busy day for me.

Part 1 - One of the sources both the Census Bureau and Colorado Demographic Office use is information from the IRS Master file. What is known is the number of tax returns filed by zip code, the age of the filers based on their SSN#. Here is what we know about the 3 zip codes (80477; 80487; 80488) associated with Steamboat Springs. Number of returns filed in 2000 = 8,147; 2007=9,584

2000 (Age Demographic of Primary Filer) <30 = 34%

=30<45 = 31% =45<60 = 27% =60 = 8%

2007 (Age Demographic of Primary Filer) <30 = 28%

=30<45 = 29% =45<60 = 29% =60 = 14%


Scott Ford 7 years, 5 months ago

Part 2 - According to the State Demography Office, the population in Steamboat Springs was 1980=5,098 In 2007=11,502 =126%+ For the entire county for the same periods 13,404/23,600 =76%+.

"Boomers" born 1946-1964 (18 years) represent about 75.8 million folks. An interesting statistics is that the peak birth year of baby boomers was greatest toward the end not at the beginning. In rank order, the top 5 years were 1957; 1961; 1960; 1958; 1959. If we split the boomer years down the middle. The first 9 years represent 48% and the last 9 years represent 52%. With 51% in the last 9-year period occurring in the years referenced. This just means that there is high concentration of 48 to 52 year olds in the population. How many of them will arrive eventually in Steamboat Springs? Who knows? It is very likely that the demographics trend that saw us drift older between 2000 and 2007 will continue. Also during this period we grew much more affluent. Adjusted for inflation the AGI reported on tax returns went from $64,500 to $80,220. To put this another way, Steamboat Springs is getting richer older faster.

In the next 15 to 20 years the "residential/lifestyle" economic driver will grow. The vast majority of these folks associated with this economy will have income sources outside of the Yampa Valley. Some of it will be retirement income some will be LNB (location neutral business) income.

Will the current economic situation change things? I am not sure. It will have an effect. I am one that believes that more things change the more they stay the same. Just as the "new economy" discussion turned out to be so much hot air - the "gloom and doom" group is also likely full of hot air. It will be what it will be. One reality is that this place is a great place to live - a lot of folks want to live here. Some will have the financial means to do so. Some will land in SB700 to be sure.


Scott Ford 7 years, 5 months ago

Part 3 To be sure, the skiing numbers are relatively flat and has been so for a long time. This likely has more to do with the increase of non-skiing recreation opportunities. I think a cruise in the Caribbean would sound good in February. Some think a ski trip sounds good. It will all depend on the customers wants/desires and perception of value. (So many things to do with so little time to do them - I know maybe when I retire I will move to Steamboat Springs - it is hard to live on a cruise ship full time. )


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