Steamboat weighs in on quality of life, city amenities, affordable living and more in resident survey results

Each question about performance of city government saw some decline, though 81% still praised overall quality of city services

The snow-covered slopes of Steamboat Resort make for a scenic backdrop from downtown on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Springs residents who responded to a city-run survey overwhelmingly say the ski town is a quality place to live, even though the same percentage of respondents said the city has poor availability of affordable places to live.

About 95% of the 635 residents who took the survey said Steamboat is either an excellent or good place to live, while just 5% of residents responded positively about the local housing situation. Access to child care, mental health services and overall cost of living were key concerns for residents as well, the survey showed.

“The survey results provide a snapshot as far as what the community thinks is going well, what can be improved and how they believe the city should proceed forward on various matters in the coming years,” said Special Projects and Intergovernmental Services Manager Winnie DelliQuadri, in a statement.

Eight in 10 respondents said the city had good or excellent city services overall, which is down from the 2020 survey when 90% responded favorably. Each question about city government performance saw the share of positive responses decrease compared to the 2020 survey.

Overall confidence in city staff declined from 77% in 2020 to 67% this year. Overall confidence in City Council declined from 48% to 44% this year and confidence in the direction the city is taking also dipped from 50% to 42%. About 41% of respondents said they had attended or watched a local public meeting like City Council or Planning Commission.

Residents rated emergency services like police, fire and ambulance service high, each getting 84% approval or higher. Transit services and snow removal also scored high, with more than eight in 10 residents saying they are either excellent or good.

The survey showed that city parks, recreation facilities and trails get a lot of use by residents, and strong percentages said maintaining those opportunities were important to them.

More than half of those surveyed said finding affordable housing was a problem for them in the last 12 months and 95% responded negatively to the overall affordable housing stock.

Four out of five residents said they believed creating affordable housing was either essential or very important for the city, and there was majority support for each of the strategies suggested in the survey.

About 87% support the city developing housing for its own employees, 79% support offering incentives for STR operators to rent their unit long term and 75% support city funds going toward lowering the cost of developing affordable and attainable housing. 

The least favorable of these options was offering home buyers an incentive in exchange for ensuring the unit would only be available to the local workforce, which received 62% favorable responses.

The survey also asked three “tradeoff” questions about Brown Ranch annexation, which is expected to largely take place next year. Rather than increasing sales or property taxes to pay for services at Brown Ranch, residents said they favored charging future residents homeowner association-like fees to pay for services.

Who took the survey?

Earlier this fall, 2,000 households were randomly selected to receive the survey in the mail, though only 1,745 of those had a deliverable address. Of those who received the survey, 645 responded, giving the survey a response rate of 36%.

Nearly a quarter of respondents to the survey were age 25 to 34, but just eight people under the age of 25 gave responses. More than 60% of respondents were over the age of 45. More than half of respondents said they have lived in Steamboat for at least 10 years.

Three-quarters of respondents said they were married and two-thirds of respondents said they had an annual income higher than $100,000 a year. About 15% of respondents said they make more than $300,000 a year.

While the survey was available in both Spanish and English, no one took the Spanish version of the survey and just 3% of respondents said they considered themselves to be Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino.

The city contracted with Polco/National Research Center to conduct this year’s survey, and results will be presented to City Council at its Dec. 6 meeting.

Other notable data points

  • About 90% of respondents said they had used city trails to walk or bike instead of drive, and 50% said they have chosen to use public transportation to reach their destination rather than a car.
  • While 18% of residents reported using the Steamboat Springs Bob Adams Airport in the last year, just 3%, or 25 respondents, had used it more than once a month.
  • Short-term rental enforcement received the lowest marks of any city service, with just 21% of residents responding favorably to the city’s performance.
  • Three-quarters of residents support city funding for destination management messages like “Leave No Trace” or “Kindness Floats the Boat,” but just 40% of people support marketing Steamboat as a tourist destination.
  • Nearly two-thirds of residents surveyed said they may purchase an electric vehicle in the next five years and 6% already own an EV.
  • When asked how to fund improvements to Steamboat’s transportation system, 53% of residents favored enacting a ski area access fee like a lift ticket tax, 25% supported instituting parking fees, 13% supported a new sales tax and 8% a new property tax.
  • About 27% of residents surveyed own an electric bike and another 9% say they plan to buy one.
  • Nearly 80% of residents say they are already composting or would be interested in doing so in the future. Still, significant barriers like a lack of knowledge of available services locally and a fear of attracting bears exist, with 40% or more for each of those.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.