Geoffrey Weathers is the Town of Superior’s planning and permit technician. Though Superior has a small planning staff, Weathers can get involved with large-scale projects including Marshall fire recovery efforts, the Downtown buildout, and future development proposals for affordable housing and mixed-use infill projects, in addition to his responsibilities for reviewing plans and building permits for code compliance.
Weathers was recently awarded the 2022 American Planning Association Colorado Honor Award for his Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) capstone project, “Multifamily housing Parking Optimization Study.” The MURP capstone is a six-credit, project-oriented, one-semester course that results in a substantial deliverable upon completion.
Weathers’ capstone, which evaluated minimum parking requirements for multifamily housing in Longmont in order to achieve improved parking rates. Following the completion of his project, the City of Longmont will begin implementing Weathers’ recommendations by proposing code changes that could lead to pursuing even bigger goals for the City of Longmont, like providing more affordable housing and reducing the City’s carbon footprint.
Weathers connected with CAP for a Q&A, reflecting on his time at CU Denver and how it paved the way for his career in urban planning.
What inspired you to study planning?
I decided to apply to the MURP program when I discovered the extent to which the built environment impacts people’s decisions, behaviors, and lives. I had been coordinating and teaching for an in-school bicycle education program for the Boulder Valley School District, that aimed to instill skills and confidence using bicycles for transportation in elementary and middle school students. My curiosity about the factors that either motivate or inhibit people to ride their bikes, lead me to discover Janette Sadik-Khan’s book Street Fight. Kahn describes how policy and design choices determine the character of our streets and public spaces and the effects those decisions have on our lives. I immediately knew I wanted to be a planner.
Your MURP capstone project looked at how to optimize parking for multifamily housing in Longmont. What led you to study this for your capstone project?
I chose this capstone project because parking policy reform is one of the most crucial issues at the nexus of land use and transportation. Due to its physical immensity, parking is really the linchpin of the automobile’s dominion over our lives. Until we reduce parking provisions, the automobile will, necessarily, be our primary mode of transportation and will continue to dominate transportation and land use decisions.
What do you hope is an important takeaway from your Capstone project?
I’m going out on a limb here or maybe it’s really obvious (I can’t decide which), but it may suggest that the inverse of induced demand is also true; the smaller the parking provision, the fewer cars there will be to park. In my study, it seems that each reduction in Longmont’s minimum requirement was met with a concomitant decrease in parking utilization. Maybe it’s equivalent to when you remove a highway and the traffic seems to evaporate. It seems to me that this could have implications on the debate about implementing parking maximums, the actual circumstances that cause “spill-over,” and might even suggest ways to reduce the number of automobiles owned per person.
Who was your faculty advisor for your project and were there any other partners you worked with (people and/or organizations)?
I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my advisor Ken Schroeppel. Without his encouragement, kindness, and guidance, I’m not sure I’d have been able to complete my project at all. My client partners at the City of Longmont, Ben Ortiz and Phil Greenwald, were also integral to the project’s success and have unrelentingly championed me and our report since its inception. The support I’ve received throughout the process turned what could have felt like an overwhelmingly daunting task into a thoroughly enriching and enjoyable, albeit prodigious, undertaking.
Describe how it feels not only seeing your project come to life, but also earning the 2022 American Planning Association Merit Award?
I have never felt more gratified in my life than at the moment Ben Ortiz and Phil Greenwald explained to me that my report has been instrumental to the City of Longmont and other Front Range communities in their efforts to reduce and eliminate parking minimums and implement parking maximums. I literally cried from the joy at the sense of accomplishment.
Winning an award or two (my project also won Western Planner 2022 Student Planning Project of the Year) was really nice, too. As a burgeoning professional beginning to feel the pressure of self-doubt, the awards couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m very grateful.
Was there a professor who was a mentor to you? If so, could you share with us how they impacted your experience at CAP or in your career?
Ken Schroeppel, Carrie Makarewicz, Wes Marshall, and Manish Shirgaokar were all tremendous mentors to me while at MURP and continue to inspire me and my work. Not only were they amazing teachers, but they are incredible planners and people. I aspire to achieve their degree of tough-mindedness, indefatigable passion, and steadfast empathy for all people impacted by public policy.
What is something you would tell your younger self before you got started with your studies?
I’m not sure… I just hope my younger self continues to hold my older self’s feet to the fire and never allows me to become comfortable or complacent.
What is your hope for the future of CAP?
I hope that CAP continues to be guided by, and encourages its students to be guided by, idealism. Hopefully my modest success shows that if your purpose is to make the world a better place, your personal aspirations will take care of themselves.