Survey shows high quality of life, satisfaction with most City services

Results highlight priorities, valued services and areas needing attention

Feb 07, 2014 - by Janice Keller

I am happy to report that a recent survey verifies what we all know:
Bellingham is a wonderful place to live, and residents are extremely
satisfied with the quality of life here. They particularly value our strong
sense of community and casual small-town feel, our care for each other and
the environment, and our beautiful parks and trails along with our many
other public amenities and services.

This is just a taste of the extensive feedback we received from
Bellingham residents in our recent scientifically conducted survey. Six
hundred randomly selected Bellingham residents completed the 48-question
survey last November, and my office recently received a

report of the results
. Most of the questions were repeated from similar
surveys so that we can compare the results over time, as the City has
conducted similar research approximately every-other-year since 2004. The
results are considered scientifically valid, with a margin of error of
plus-or-minus 4%.

Highlights of this survey’s results will be presented to the Bellingham
City Council at its Feb. 10 meeting. A detailed report of this research can
be viewed on the
opinion
surveying page
of the City website. The City website also provides
visual comparisons to previous years’ data for certain questions, as part of
our overall performance measures
program
.

The purpose of the survey is to help identify Bellingham residents’
priorities, concerns and satisfaction with City services. The results are
used for many purposes, including informing budget and policy decisions,
improving customer service, and reporting City government progress on

meeting community needs and priorities.

Survey highlights

The survey found continued high satisfaction with quality of life in
Bellingham, as well as support for the job the City is doing meeting most
community priorities. A few highlights of the results include:

  • Quality of life: The majority (94%) rated the
    overall quality of life in Bellingham as “good” or “excellent.” This
    rating is similar to responses to this question in 2010.
  • Clean, safe drinking water: The majority (91%) said
    preventing further development in the Lake Whatcom watershed to protect
    our drinking water is “somewhat”, “very” or “extremely” important. This
    rating is similar to responses to this question in 2010.
  • Parks and trails: The majority (90%) rated the job
    the City is doing maintaining parks and trails as “good” or “excellent.”
    This rating is similar to responses to this question in 2010.
  • Healthy environment: The majority (80%) rated the
    job the City is doing protecting the environment as “good” or
    “excellent.” This response is slightly improved from 2010.
  • Culture and arts: The majority (84%) rated the job
    the City is doing creating opportunities for education in culture and
    the arts as “good” or “excellent.” This response is slightly improved
    from 2010.
  • Library services: The majority (87%) rated the job
    the City is doing providing library services as “good” or “excellent.”
    This rating has improved since 2010.
  • Public safety services: The majority (88%) rated
    the job the City is doing providing public safety services (Police,
    Fire, EMS) as “good” or “excellent.” Ratings for this question are
    similar to those from 2010.
  • Preventing crime: The majority (75%) rated the job
    the City is doing preventing crime and protecting the community as
    “good” or “excellent.” This rating has improved since 2010.
  • Neighborhood & downtown safety: Respondents were
    asked a series of questions about their sense of safety in their
    neighborhood and downtown at different times of day. Most (88%)
    respondents feel extremely or very safe in their neighborhoods during
    the day, and most (71%) feel extremely or very safe downtown during the
    day. People felt least safe downtown at night, with 19% saying they feel
    extremely or very safe downtown at night, while 60% feel extremely or
    very safe in their own neighborhoods at night.
  • Using tax dollars responsibly: Just over half (56%)
    rated the job the City is doing using tax dollars responsibly as “good”
    or “excellent.” This rating has improved since 2010.
  • Most important issues: When asked to name the most
    important problem facing Bellingham that City leaders can do something
    about, the most frequent responses had to do with growth, including
    comments about sprawl, over-development and traffic congestion. Other
    problems noted by many respondents include insufficient employment and
    need for more economic and business development, and the potential
    impacts of increased coal train traffic.

Thank you to survey participants

The survey was conducted by Applied Research Northwest in November 2013.
Randomly selected Bellingham residents were invited to take the survey by
telephone or online. I’d like to give special thanks to those people who
took the time to participate. The report of survey results is rich with
valuable information about topics Bellingham residents deeply care about.
I’m looking forward to presenting this information to City Council and the
community on Feb. 10, and using it to continue to shape City government
programs and services. If you have any questions about the 2014 Residential
Survey, please contact my office at 360-778-8100.

More information:

Public
Opinion Research

Performance Measures

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