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Survey: Aspen filled with rich guys who like to ski

The perception of Aspen is that it’s dominated by a bunch of old white guys who have been around forever and ski their brains out.

A new survey shows that’s pretty much true.

Results of a survey mailed to a random sample of full-time residents and second-home owners provide a revealing glimpse of the “typical” resident of Pitkin County. The 2003 Mountain Resort Homeowners Survey was conducted by an organization called the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. It was also conducted in Eagle, Summit and Grand counties.

About 50 percent of the respondents in Pitkin County said they reside in a second home while 47 percent said they make their primary residence here. The other 3 percent left no clue as to what they were thinking.

Of the 269 respondents to the survey, 41 percent said they have resided full or part time in Aspen for 21 years or more. Another 35 percent have been here between 11 and 20 years.

About 60 percent of the people who answered the survey were men, and 97 percent were white.

About one-third of the respondents were between ages 55 and 64, the highest percentage for any category. Another 23 percent were between ages 45 and 54 while 20 percent were between ages 65 and 74.

Nearly one of five respondents listed their income as being between $100,000 and $149,000.

When asked their top reasons for living here, an overwhelming 74 percent said because of the recreational opportunities. Nearly as compelling was the scenery, selected by 69 percent. Respondents could select more than one item from a list.

When asked in a separate question to select the single most important factor for living in Pitkin County, 23 percent said recreational opportunities. That topped 21 percent who said the local economy was most important.

So what recreational opportunities do residents take advantage of? Skiing, skiing and more skiing. Downhill skiing was listed by 84 percent, closely followed by 83 percent who said they walk or jog and 80 percent who hike.

Another 47 percent said they ride a mountain bike. Nordic skiing was cited by 39 percent of the respondents while 15 percent said they snowboard.

Golf was taken up by 36 percent of the respondents.

Despite their love of the outdoors, 44 percent of respondents said they weren’t involved in any environmental organizations or movements while only 6 percent said they were “very involved.”

When it comes to spirituality, 52 percent of respondents said they are not involved in a church while 13 percent said they were very involved.

Strong sense of community

More Pitkin County residents than not said they felt a sense of community in the valley. Twenty-two percent said the sense of community was “very good” while another 37 percent said it was “good.”

On the other end of the spectrum, 3 percent said the sense of community is very poor while 10 percent said it was poor. The remaining 28 percent were neutral on the issue.

Opinions on two of the big issues of the region showed residents care about employee housing and public transportation.

When asked if it was important to have housing suitable for the work force in Pitkin County, 24 percent said it was very important and 23 said it was important while 31 said it was somewhat important.

Conversely, 10 percent said is was not very important and 12 percent said it has little importance.

RFTA officials might be interested to learn that 33 percent of respondents felt public transit is very important while 24 percent believe it is important and 26 percent feel it is somewhat important.

Public transit was deemed unimportant by 8 percent and of little importance by 9 percent.

Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, which works on issues of common interest in the region, mailed surveys to 1,346 households in Pitkin County and received 269 back for a response rate of 25 percent. Linda Venturoni, director of special projects, said that was a respectable response rate. The margin of error for Pitkin County was 5.9 percent.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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