Community Survey Results

In late February 2022, New Bridge Strategy was asked to conduct a scientific survey among 300 diverse residents of Park County.   The primary goal of the survey was to understand shared values, to better understand how locals think about the pace of new growth and development, and to discuss whether it should be addressed in any proactive manner.   The survey was preceded by 15 in-depth interviews with a diverse range of community residents.

Key results and the survey methodology are listed below:

Residents Love Park County

Residents of the County share a love for the outdoors, natural beauty and clean water in the County. In the in-depth interviews, it is clear that people love this area and want to maintain their good quality of life.

In the in-depth interviews, we generally heard that the quality of life in the county is still viewed very positively, with little concern about crowding or ability to access the outdoors. There are a host of things they love about living in Park County. Below are some examples of what we heard:

We tested and ranked some of the themes we heard in the survey. Many aspects of life are seen as significant factors in the attractiveness of Park County as a place to live, including the natural beauty, access to rivers, and the ability to recreate outdoors and enjoy nature.

Support for Planning Rules

A majority of Park County residents support more enforceable rules over where new development and uses can take place. By a 21-point margin (51 percent, yes there is a need / 20 percent, no there is not a need), residents say there is a need for enforceable rules over where new development and uses can take place.

“As you may know, currently, there are not enforceable rules for what kind of development or economic activities can take place on land in particular areas of the county. Knowing that, would you say there is a need for these types of rules or not?”

 

This is true throughout the County as those in the City of Livingston and those in the rest of the County are far more likely to see a need for enforceable rules (49 percent of those in the City and 55 percent of those in the rest of the County), than to reject it. Long-term residents who have lived in the county more than ten years are one of the most likely sub-groups to say there is a need for enforceable rules to guide development and economic activities.

There is also majority support in Park County for new local guidelines that seek to resolve ongoing land use conflicts, a tool that Park County is considering implementing. Over three-fifths of County residents are supportive of stronger requirements to guide industrial activities and commercial developments.

“Would you support or oppose creating stronger requirements for where industrial activities can be located in the county? Would you support or oppose creating stronger requirements for where new commercial developments such as gas stations, wedding and music venues, and other tourism-related businesses can be located in the county?”

 

Concern with housing affordability

Residents express grave concern about the availability of affordable housing in Park County. In an open-ended question in which residents were allowed to name the top problem facing Park County, more residents point to housing (26 percent) as the top problem, followed by pocketbook/economic issues (19 percent) and traffic/growth concerns (17 percent.

When asked to instead rate a number of different potential problems as to how serious a problem they are in the County, almost all respondents say that the availability of affordable housing is a serious problem, with four-in-five saying it is an extremely or very serious problem.

Affordable housing tops all other issues as being an extremely or very serious problem, regardless of how long one has lived in Park County or where in the County one lives. A number of related concerns are not far behind, as three-in-five say that issues related to outsiders purchasing property and fewer workers being able to live and work in the County are issues.  Notably, some respondents in the in-depth interviews worried that they may not be able to stay in the County if costs continue to rise.

Additionally, four-in-five say they don’t have confidence that their children will be able to afford to live in Park County when they grow up, as seen in the following graph:

“How confident are you that children growing up in Park County today will be able to afford to live here when they grow up?”

 

This sentiment transcends gender and age with over 78 percent of men ages 18-54, 82 percent of men ages 55+, 77 percent of women ages 18-54 and 80 percent of women ages 55+ not confident that their children will be able to afford to live in Park County when they grow up. Those who reside outside of Livingston are less likely to feel confident that children growing up in Park County today will be able to afford to live here in the future (88 percent not confident) versus those who reside in Livingston (77 percent not confident).

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Methodology: New Bridge Strategy, a Colorado-based opinion research firm, conducted a statistically valid survey among N=300 residents throughout Park County. Interviews were collected February 16-24 and were conducted on both landlines and cell phone as well as online via email invitation. They were distributed proportionally throughout the County. Quotas were also set for key demographic sub-groups, such as gender and age.  The margin of error is +5.66% for the overall sample. The margin of error will vary for sub-groups.