We love our Edmonds

City gets high marks from its residents in survey
By Brian Soergel | Aug 26, 2016
Photo by: Brian Soergel

The results of a survey on Edmonds’ livability are in, and they confirm what many of us have known intuitively: Residents love living here, even if a growing number of them can’t afford to live or find work in city limits.

According to the National Citizen Survey’s Community Livability Report, almost all residents rated the quality of life in Edmonds as excellent or good. They also rated safety and economy as the two highest priorities over the next two years.

Only one category – affordable, quality housing – ranked lower than national averages.

Even one question almost guaranteed to draw a low percentage – confidence in city government – received a 59 percent positive result, not overwhelming but at least in the majority.

There are plans for an open house in September to share the information with the public, said Economic Development/Community Services Director Patrick Doherty.

You can view the entire report online at bit.ly/2c3orMV.

“This is fantastic feedback from the public about how well our city is serving its community,” Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling said. “While our staff is thrilled at the high marks the community gives its government services in this survey, we are also mindful of the areas we can improve upon and are grateful for the public’s input to help Edmonds become an even greater place for all of us to live, work and play.”

As for the affordable housing issue, Earling said the city has two plans on the agenda.

One is centered on the Westgate neighborhood, where the city wants to offer tax breaks to developers who devote a portion of new multifamily housing (apartments, condos) to affordable housing (see “Development plan at Westgate moves forward”).

The other is what Earling calls a “subarea” plan centered on Highway 99 from 244th Street SW in the south to about 212th Street SW to the north.

Although the survey had the sort of general questions asked of other cities (cleanliness, traffic flow, socal events and activities), Earling said he was particularly pleased with five questions centered on Edmonds.

“There’s good community awareness of our parks, streets and police services,” he said. “I was surprised, very positively, that they were as high as they were. I didn’t think they’d be low, but that’s the level of community involvement we see in our community.”

How will the information be used?

Earling, councilmembers and city staff say the responses will help them zero in on particular issues, and incorporate them into the city’s general plan, its blueprint for the near future.

“It’s a very valuable tool in moving our community forward,” Earling said.

Added Doherty: “This survey provides incredible insight into the many facets of our community, and will be a valuable tool for our city. It helps us gauge community feedback on important issues, prioritize our budget needs, and see how Edmonds measures up to other cities of its size.”

Top results

When asked how they felt their city was doing, the overwhelming majority of residents who responded to the community livability survey, administered by the National Research Center, gave Edmonds a resounding thumbs up.

Among the top findings:

• Edmonds is a great place to live, with 9 in 10 residents positively rating overall image, overall appearance and Edmonds as a great place to raise children, among other attributes. Ninety-six percent of respondents rated Edmonds as an excellent or good place to live, much higher than responses in nationwide surveys and those from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

• Safety is an asset and a priority, with 9 in 10 residents stating they feel safe in Edmonds, and also identifying safety as a priority to focus on in coming years.

• The economy is important to residents and highly rated in Edmonds. About 8 in 10 residents rated the city’s economic health as positive, although it is recognized that more jobs in Edmonds for Edmonds residents would be desirable, as only 3 in 10 work in the city.

• The city supports a culture of diversity and opportunities for citizen engagement. At least three-quarters of residents gave excellent/good ratings to opportunities for cultural/arts/events engagement. Also, up to 6 in 10 felt that the city has high levels of community engagement and is open to people of diverse backgrounds.

Additional findings in the Community Characteristics section of the survey showed Edmonds residents rated many categories well above the national averages, including:

• Ease of walking

• Traffic flow

• Overall natural environment

• Cleanliness

• Air quality

• Public places

• Vibrant downtown area

• Place to visit

• Mental health care

• Preventive health services

• Health care

• Cultural/arts/music activities

• Adult education

• Social events and activities

Here are just a few other results, with the percentage rating positively given:

• Aspects of governance/mobility: street repair – 50 percent

• Aspects of governance/built environment: land use, planning and zoning – 49 percent

• Aspects of participation/safety: stocked supplies for an emergency – 47 percent

• Aspects of participation/mobility: used public transportation instead of driving – 34 percent

• Aspects of participation/education and enrichment: participated in religious or spiritual activities – 36 percent

And although community engagement is often lauded by city officials, survey numbers suggest that engagement is selective:

• Campaigned for an issue, cause or candidate: 25 percent

• Contacted Edmonds officials to express opinion: 18 percent

• Volunteered: 36 percent

• Participated in a club: 25 percent

• Attended a local public meeting: 20 percent

• Watched a local public meeting: 23 percent

The National Citizen Survey was administered by the National Research Center in Edmonds in July 2016, with 2,200 households randomly selected and mailed the survey.

An online version of the survey was also made available to anyone in the community via the city’s website and Facebook page. Responses to the randomized survey totaled 586, or 28 percent, which was well within the 20 percent to 40 percent range of normal response rate experienced by the NRC.

With the addition of 320 online responses, total response to the survey was 906.

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