In late 2015, the City of San Diego mailed out 9,000 comprehensive surveys to a random sample of citizens to determine how satisfied residents are with city services, to learn where they thought the city could improve, and see whether they believe the city has improved already.
And the results are in. Lots of them.
At a press conference March 2 at Villa La Jolla Park, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Council President Sherri Lightner, Councilmember Scott Sherman and Almis Udrys, director of the Performance & Analytics Department, announced the findings and how they will guide council policy going forward. Although the department that oversaw the survey effort was expecting less than 1,800 responses, they got 2,478.
“This survey quantifies constituent feedback as opposed to looking at complaints and how they fit in the overall scheme of how the city does business. To have a broad-based survey is very helpful to putting things in perspective,” Lightner told La Jolla Light. “It shows us where resources should be allocated and how to streamline the process to deliver on these things. Because infrastructure is a critical issue, for example, let’s streamline that process and deliver on that.”
The results have not been broken down by council district, but they will be, she assured.
Following the press conference, Mayor Faulconer told La Jolla Light, “We’ve never done a survey as thorough and as comprehensive as this, but this is the type of tool we should be using and we’re going to use every year to measure how we’re doing and measure satisfaction with the changes that we’re making. From my perspective, it was great to see people think things are getting better. But we also know there’s a lot of work to do, particularly in the areas of street repair and infrastructure. Survey results will help the council and myself continue to invest those dollars in infrastructure.”
Of the results, Udrys said there were some things that were “very positive,” such as 43 percent of residents thinking the city “is doing better than we were a few years ago.” Specific services, like public safety and libraries, were very highly rated (upwards of 70 percent). Poorly rated services, such as infrastructure (24 percent satisfaction), did not shock surveyors. “Infrastructure did not do well, but that was not a surprise to us … we’ve been talking a lot about it and doing a lot about it,” he said.
Added Lightner, “Based upon the combined percentages of ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfied,’ 66 percent of residents noted the effectiveness of local police protection, and 59 percent were satisfied police visibility in the city. How quickly police respond was also highly ranked at over 50 percent. And 78 percent of respondents were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with fire and rescue services, with a 72 percent satisfaction for our lifeguards.”
Within that category, there was 73 percent satisfactory for beach maintenance, she noted. Library services also came in high with 77 percent of respondents indicating they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the availability of library facilities and the quality of services.
Noting La Jolla’s Riford Library has had a 3D printing lab and a biotech lab open to the public for almost a year, she said she would like to take that model and open up other labs at other libraries. “As a proponent of STEM education for our youth, I propose that at least two libraries in every district have a Fab Lab for students. Fab Labs are a great way to provide hands-on learning and get students excited about science and engineering. My City Council colleagues are enthusiastic about this proposal.”
Full survey results: sandiego.gov