The 2012 resident survey results conducted by National Research Center, are available online and were presented at the City Council’s Feb. 20 Committee of the Whole meeting.
The survey helps me understand the concerns and opinions of residents, in general, and also identify potential needs and priorities for the future. I read through the report carefully and look at trends and changes over years, how respondents from different areas respond and also how we compare with other cities across the nation. I also always look especially carefully at the areas I serve as Council Member.
Generally the survey results mesh well with what I hear in my day to day work. The survey indicated, for example, that the people generally like the direction the city is going and that snow plowing and park and rec services are of high priority.
I was struck, although perhaps not too surprised, by how different views were between different parts of the City. The survey divided respondents into 11 basic "community planning districts" and it was striking (although perhaps not surprising) that certain parts of the City reported being less satisfied or happy with the city than others. The Camden area, for example, rated their neighborhoods as a place to live lower (60% saying it was good or very good) that those from the Longfellow area (93%).
In general, a majority of the respondents, 91%, rate the city as a very good (57%) or good (34%) place to live. Additionally, nearly all residents (96 percent) said they were satisfied (79%) or very satisfied (17%) with the overall quality of City services. Among City services, residents gave their highest satisfaction ratings to fire protection and emergency services (98% were either satisfied or very satisfied), sewer services (96%), 311 for City services and information (96%), park and recreation services (95%), and Animal Control programs (92%).
Although a majority of residents were satisfied or very satisfied with all City services, the services that received the lowest ratings were repairing streets (70%, up from 40% in 2011), affordable housing development (70%) and mortgage foreclosure assistance (60%). Because this is the 6th resident survey we can also see trends in some areas, and it appears that in most areas there is improvement. In 2012, for example, more respondents than in previous survey years reported that Minneapolis has gotten better as a place to live.
The survey might also indicates some areas of concern when Minneapolis results are compared with results from other cities. As the report says, “Certain kinds of services tend to be thought better of by residents in many communities across the country…Where possible, the better comparison is not from one service to another in Minneapolis, but from Minneapolis services to services like them provided in other jurisdictions.” Using a national benchmarking system shows that, for example, the overall direction that the City is taking ranked above the national comparison, providing value for tax dollars was below and providing opportunities for citizens to give input was similar. Additionally, using this measure, of 13 services that could be compared to other communities only two were above the national benchmark, 4 were similar and 7 were rated much below the national norms. As a City Council Member working hard to make sure we are offering the best services possible, it was disappointing to see this comparison of our rankings with national averages:
Maintaining safe and accessible sidewalks - Much above
Affordable housing development - Above
Providing quality drinking water - Similar
Animal control services - Similar
Keeping streets clean - Similar
Repairing streets - Similar
Snow removal - Much below
Police services - Much below
Fire protection and emergency medical response - Much below
Providing sewer services - Much below
Providing park and recreation services Much below
Garbage collection and recycling programs Much below
Traffic signals, signage and pavement markings for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles Much below
Cleaning up graffiti Not available
311 for City services and information - Not available
The report calls out two particular areas of focus based on services ranked of very high importance but that were below the national benchmarks: snow removal and providing park and recreation services. Additionally, discrimination continues to be a problem for a percentage of residents. As in previous years (2001 -2011), about one in 6 respondents reported experiencing discrimination in Minneapolis. Most was identified as discrimination based on race or economic status. It was discouraging to learn that more than last year (14% vs 7%) reported experiencing discrimination in dealing with the City enterprise itself.
While one must be cautious using and interpreting data from a survey of only 1,378 residents, this does offer us a rare opportunity to get specific data about how resident view our city and city services that we can compare with other years and other communities. Used properly, and with other measures it can inform our planning and priorities for the future. To find the full report and do you own analysis visit here and let me know what you learn.