Satisfaction levels drop in City of Vancouver survey
The city of Vancouver released results of a community survey conducted early in 2020, noting that residents are “generally satisfied” with the livability, safety, and public services provided by the city, while noting overall satisfaction levels have dropped compared to a similar study conducted in 2017.
Council member Bart Hansen, though, is not impressed with the city’s response to the survey.
“This is unacceptable,” Hansen said, referring to a specific question on the survey, asking residents to rate how they feel the city is doing in delivering services efficiently, overall, keeping citizens informed, managing the public’s money, and focusing on priorities that matter most to residents.
In all five categories, the city dropped in satisfaction levels.
“What has changed from 2017 to 2020 for our results to be this bad?” Hansen asked, noting this survey is akin to a report card.
The survey was conducted prior to Covid-19.
“This is not a reflection of frontline staff,” Hansen said. “This is a reflection of the people making policy at the city of Vancouver. Responsibility starts at the top.”
In the press release issued Thursday, Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes said the survey also showed a lot of positives.
“The number of residents who feel that Vancouver is a good place to live remains very high, even compared to the 2017 survey results, which is encouraging,” said Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes. “Although we’ve made some gains, there is still work to be done to meet our residents’ expectations in several other key areas as we strive to make Vancouver one of the most welcoming, safe, prosperous and vibrant cities in the state.”
Hansen noted that keeping citizens informed dropped from a 68 to a 55 on the scale.
He is not surprised because he has been frustrated with the communication.
“There is the legal communication you have to send to citizens. Then there is the right communication you should send to citizens,” he said.
He used the messaging regarding new bike lanes on Columbia Street as an example. The city put out marketing with a picture of a woman on a bike next to parked cars, letting citizens know where to go for more information on the proposed project.
“What we didn’t say (in the marketing) is we were going to remove parking,” Hansen said. “Omission of detail.”
Several neighborhood groups along Columbia Street said they were not properly informed about what was being planned, that hundreds of parking spots were on the chopping block, Clark County Today reported in March.
Hansen said that he received the same complaints.
“I’ve never had neighborhood coalitions formed that were concerned over council direction and policy,” said Hansen, who has been on the council for 10 years. “It’s happening now. It’s happened within the time frame of 2017 to 2020.”
City leaders discussed the results of the survey at a retreat last weekend. Hansen said he hopes instead of dismissing the results, city leaders will accept the results and try to turn the numbers around in the coming years.
“It’s time to take responsibility, and it’s time to improve,” Hansen said. “It comes down to addressing the lack of transparency.”
The full survey report is available online at: www.cityofvancouver.us/2020CommunitySurvey.
In the city’s press release, it noted the key findings to be:
- 70 percent of respondents who had an opinion rated the overall livability of Vancouver as excellent or very good
- The things residents said they liked best about living in Vancouver included recreational opportunities, social offerings (events, restaurants, things to do), safety, basic services and education.
- 67 percent of respondents who had an opinion said they believe the city of Vancouver is doing an excellent or good job delivering services efficiently. (That is down from 74 percent in 2017.)
- Residents said the five most important city government services or functions were maintaining streets, fire and emergency medical services, police services, managing traffic flow and protecting our natural environment.
- The five least important city government services or functions were enforcing city codes related to property maintenance, zoning and land use, community events, support for arts and culture, and recreation classes and programs.
- The five city government services or functions that residents were the most satisfied with were fire and emergency medical services, recycling and garbage collection, police services, protecting our natural environment and parks maintenance.
- The five city government services or functions that residents were the least satisfied with were support for neighborhoods, managing traffic flow, maintaining streets, enforcing city codes related to property maintenance and zoning and land use.
The city of Vancouver hired ETC Institute, a market research and public opinion survey company based in Kansas, to administer this year’s survey. The ETC Institute surveyed a random selection of 454 Vancouver residents by mail and online with a 95 percent level of confidence and a precision of at least +/- 4.6 percent.