Vail community survey shows parking complaints, out-of-town housing support

Vail's bi-annual community survey has long listed parking availability and pricing among the top concerns. The 2018 version of the survey again listed parking pricing among residents' least-liked town services.
Justin Q. McCarty | Daily file photo

Survey says

Here’s a look at a few results from the recent Vail Community Survey. You can find full results on the town’s website.

46 percent: Are very supportive of the town identifying and financially supporting partnerships to build deed-restricted housing outside of town.

87 percent: Are aware of the town’s new short-term housing regulations.

15 percent: Have short-term rented their homes in the past 12 months.

19 percent: Say the loss of long-term housing in favor of short-term rentals is a “critical” problem.

Source: Vail Community Survey

VAIL — Every two years, Vail conducts a community survey. The 2018 edition showed the town is doing a lot right. But there may be more enthusiasm for town housing efforts outside the city limits.

The survey is conducted by RRC Associates, a Boulder-based research and consulting firm.

This year’s survey showed strong support — 46 percent strongly support and 30 percent somewhat support — for town involvement in cooperative, deed-restricted housing projects outside of town. A total of 70 percent support allowing developers to meet their obligations for deed-restricted housing outside the town boundaries.

Vail has since its founding gone its own way much of the time — the town has its own bus system, library and fire department. But Vail Town Council member Greg Moffet said that could indicate a willingness to look for opportunities west of Dowd Junction.

“I think there’s going to be opportunities to participate (in housing efforts) outside of, but close to, town. I hope we’re up for it,” Moffet said.

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The town has a goal of putting 30 percent of its workforce into deed-restricted housing in town. That means 70 percent of the town’s workforce has to live elsewhere.

Moffet added that participating in projects outside of Vail isn’t unprecedented. In the 1990s, the town was a $1 million participant in the purchase of the Miller Ranch property in Edwards. The town eventually gave up its stake, but the property over the years became home to both deed-restricted housing and recreation at Freedom Park.

“It seems that people are acknowledging the answers lie beyond (the town limits),” council member Jenn Bruno said.

Parking pricing a sore spot

Parking is another perennial issue for Vail. As in the past, residents expressed worries about parking, both in availability and price.

Bruno noted that residents tend to favor lower pricing, and the survey reflects that. In all, 38 percent of respondents said they were either “not at all satisfied” or “not satisfied” with overall fees and pricing.

Bruno said the town’s parking task force — a volunteer group of town officials and local business owners and representatives — will be taking another look at pricing, and the free-parking period, at its August meeting.

That task force will also be looking at demand-based pricing, which would adjust rates based on how busy the town is.

“If we have the spots, we want people to use them,” Bruno said.

Moffet has a different opinion and has long advocated using parking rates as a way to influence behavior, not generate revenue.

“We’re not an airline,” which adjusts pricing to get people to fill seats, he said.

Moffet also noted that parking supply and demand will change in the coming ski season, when a 160-space structure opens at Red Sandstone Elementary School. The town has yet to set pricing for that new structure.

Sustainability a big deal

Another evergreen issue in town is the environment. This year’s survey posed a hypothetical question, asking residents to allocate $100 to different town priorities.

That hypothetical $100 was spread among items ranging from transportation to address county needs — $10 — to creating an indoor events and programs facility. At the top of the list was environmental sustainability, on which residents would spend $25.63 of that hypothetical $100.

Bruno said that focus isn’t particularly surprising, saying, “that’s why we moved here.”

In fact, Moffet said, the town spends more money on environmental efforts — from recycling to Gore Creek restoration efforts — than it does on housing.

While survey answers change slightly every other year, Bruno said the effort gives residents a chance to weigh in on issues that are important to them. And, she added, there’s a good bit of enthusiasm for the survey.

“There are people who have done the survey four or five times, and really take it to heart.”

The survey also influences town policy, Bruno said.

“We learn a lot and act upon a lot of information we receive,” she said.

In fact, she added, much of the council’s current action plan reflects current and past survey results.

“We were continuously citing the survey as we developed that plan,” she said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at and 970-748-2930.

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