The Star announced today that the city has just released its 2008 Citizen Satisfaction Survey. It certainly is interesting timing -- a) right after the election, not before. I'm assuming that this was an effort to not remind everyone how disgruntled they are in hopes of passing the light rail vote and b) right after the election of the first non-white as President in the history o fthis country and the survey could more easily get buried in headlines a bit because there is other stuff going on.
There aren't a ton of surprises in the survey, however the city saw pretty significant drops in satisfaction in 32 areas of city services. Ouch.
Sixteen areas got below a 20% approval rating.
Six of those are directly related to programs and availability of programs that are the responsibility of the parks department (swimming pools, city sponsored athletic programs, ease of registering for programs, etc).
Five are directly related to basic infastructure issues (building, road, sidewalk maintenance and cleanliness).
Two are directly related to codes enforcement including abandoned buildings and overgrown weeds.
Certainly I think the mayor's declarationg of war on weeds and metal plates has raised public awareness of how bad these situations are in the city...but suffice it to say, they have not seemed to show improvement at this point. I certainly think the codes enforcement issues seem to have gotten worse over the past couple of years, and not better.
Two are particularly disturbing as they show a concern for the lack of effectiveness of city boads and commissions and the amount of public involvement in local decision-making. Three other areas just barely made the 20% cutoff with "how ethically the city conducts business", "overall quality of leadership by the city's elected officals" and "effectivenesss of the city manager" all scoring at 23% or below.
I would certainly say that the lack of satisfaction with the administration and the council as a whole certainly came out in the disapproval of the city council and the mayor's Light Rail plan yesterday.
Overall, the city was graded fairly well as a place to live and a place to work -- but horribly as a place to raise children. Concerns over the amount of crime -- particularly in eastern neighborhoods and in public parks at night -- and no doubt the schools (even though they are measured in the study) are playing a role in that.
There's a lot of data in here -- and I'm sure I'll be pulling out nuggets for awhile, but thought it was worth sharing.