Planning in Gateway and Amenity Communities: Understanding Unique Challenges Associated with Transportation, Mobility, and Access to Opportunity

Danya Rumore, University of Utah

Co-investigator:

Summary:

The GNAR Community Online Toolkit (https://gnar.utah.edu/about/capacity/gnar-toolkit/) is designed to be a resource for planners, public officials, community members, consultants, and all others who are working in communities with access to significant natural amenities and recreation opportunities. This toolkit provides resources, case studies, model ordinances, and other tools to help GNAR communities plan for and respond to the unique planning, transportation, economic, community development, and sustainability challenges and opportunities they face.

Communities outside of major public lands and other natural amenities throughout the western United States face a variety of transportation and planning-related concerns associated with rapid growth and increases in tourism. Surprisingly, while the unique transportation and planning-related challenges of these western gateway and amenity region (GNAR) communities have, to some extent, been documented in recreation and tourism research, these concerns have largely been overlooked in planning scholarship. To begin to address this gap, this report presents key descriptive findings from a study aimed at examining the unique transportation, mobility, and access to opportunity-related challenges being experienced by GNAR communities throughout the western U.S. It draws on findings from in-depth interviews with 31 planners and other key public officials from 25 western GNAR communities, an online survey of planners and other key public officials in GNAR communities throughout the west, and observation of planning efforts in the regions around Zion National Park and Moab, UT, and Sandpoint, ID. Our results provide empirical evidence that many western GNAR communities are experiencing significant increases in growth and visitation pressures along with a number of related “big-city” problems, such as lack of affordable housing, income inequality, and transportation issues. These changes contrast against the fact that these communities value their small town character and related community characteristics. Our data suggest that despite these pressures, most GNAR communities are experiencing improved quality of life and visitor experience. However, some communities report declining quality of life and visitor experience, as well as extreme challenges associated with housing, transportation, and other planning concerns, raising the question of whether GNAR communities reach a tipping point at which visitation and development pressures result in overall impacts on community wellbeing. Our results also show that GNAR communities throughout the west are experimenting with innovative and promising approaches for tackling their housing and transportation issues. Further analysis is needed to better understand what kinds of GNAR communities are experiencing what kinds of challenges, as well as to assess the effectiveness of different kinds of strategies for addressing these challenges; we will explore those topics in future publications. One key takeaway from this study is that housing, transportation, and land use decisions are highly interwoven in GNAR communities throughout the west; further research is needed to better understand this connectivity and what it means for appropriate housing and access solutions.

Impacts:

We anticipate this project will help practitioners, policy makers, and academics better understand the planning, transportation, and land use challenges and opportunities in gateway and natural amenity communities and lead to related improvements in policy and practice. We also are using our research findings to develop tools and resources to assist practitioners, policy makers, and community members in addressing the planning, transportation, and land use challenges and opportunities facing gateway and natural amenity communities.

The GNAR Community Online Toolkit (https://gnar.utah.edu/about/capacity/gnar-toolkit/) is designed to be a resource for planners, public officials, community members, consultants, and all others who are working in communities with access to significant natural amenities and recreation opportunities. This toolkit provides resources, case studies, model ordinances, and other tools to help GNAR communities plan for and respond to the unique planning, transportation, economic, community development, and sustainability challenges and opportunities they face.

Project Details

Project Type:
Research
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
April 15,2019
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 1
UTC Funding:
$94,396

Other Products

  • GNARly Challenges: Planning in Western Gateway and Natural Amenity Regions (PRESENTATION)
  • GNARly Challenges: Planning and Urban Design in Gateway and Natural Amenity Regions (PRESENTATION)
  • Planning across Regional Boundaries (PRESENTATION)
  • Planning and Urban Design in Gateway and Natural Amenity Region Communities (PRESENTATION)
  • Gateway and Natural Amenity Region Planning: Tools and Resources (PRESENTATION)
  • Tools and Techniques for Teaching Collaborative Regional Planning and Enhancing Livability and Sustainable Transportation in Gateway and Natural Amenity Regions (PRESENTATION)
  • GNAR Community Planning (PRESENTATION)
  • GNAR Community Online Toolkit (WEBSITE)