Student releases Steamboat growth report | SteamboatToday.com

Student releases Steamboat growth report

Gooding working on thesis in midst of Steamboat 700 debate

Mike Lawrence

Gates Gooding

— A sampling of area residents ranked "increasing affordable housing" 11th on a list of concerns and values last month, contradicting widespread local debate about that issue and how it relates to the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation.

Steamboat Springs native Gates Gooding, 27, released a preliminary report last week titled "The Impacts of Development: Assessing Growth in Steamboat Springs." The report measures how four future, growth-related scenarios — no accommodation for new growth, approval of Steamboat 700, county re-zoning, and infill within city limits — would affect four community values ranked highly by about 140 area residents at an event last month at Olympian Hall in Howelsen Lodge. Gooding organized that event to collect data for the report.

The values Gooding correlates to the growth scenarios are preserving community character, open space, ranching and agriculture, and affordability. The first three values are in the top five named by participants last month. Gooding said he included affordability in the study, despite its low ranking, because of the tenor of local debate.

Gooding is a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is studying urban and environmental planning. The report is part of Gooding's larger thesis, which assesses local growth scenarios and is scheduled for completion in May.

To produce quantifiable data, Gooding created an equation for each community value and applied those equations to results of each growth scenario.

The growth scenario with the best results for community values is infill within city limits, a policy promoted by the Let's Vote committee opposing Steamboat 700. City voters will decide the fate of the proposed annexation in a mail-only vote that ends March 9.

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Supporters of Steamboat 700 have argued that land values and other factors prevent the development of work force housing within city limits. Annexing Steamboat 700 has the second-best results for community values in Gooding's study.

Gooding said he intentionally did not interpret the data the study presents.

"A conclusion is conspicuously absent because I don't want to draw conclusions from this," Gooding said. "I think it's up to people to look at this and draw their own conclusions as to what it means."

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