In January 2007, the Richmond City Council approved enrolling in the National Research Center’s (NRC) National Citizen Survey program in order to conduct a resident survey to help the City Council set spending priorities for the 2007/08 fiscal year and to set a benchmark of City service delivery.
The NRC is a public research firm focusing on the information needs of the public sector. NRC provided core questions that, when combined with the City’s customized questions, became the City of Richmond’s 2007 Community Survey. The survey recorded a randomly selected group of residents’ opinions about the quality of community life, measured government performance, assessed support for local policies, benchmarked ratings for services provided by the City, and gathered information on residents’ use of services.
The survey was mailed out to 3,000 randomly selected Richmond households. Of the 3,000 surveys mailed out, 141 were undeliverable due to vacant or “not found” addresses. A total of 610 residents completed the survey (594 written surveys and 16 on-line surveys) for a 21% response rate with a +/- 4% margin of error. The margin of error quantifies how closely the surveyed sampled reflects the opinions of Richmond residents 18 years and older if the entire over 18 year old population had been surveyed. The results were statistically weighted to reflect the proper demographic composition of the entire community based on the 2000 census data in order to make the sample representative of the Richmond population as a whole.
The survey results are contained in four separate reports:
1) Report of Results - a comprehensive report of local results that includes the survey background, methods, and analysis of local responses presented in tables and graphs;
2) Report of Demographic Subgroup Comparisons - a report analyzing responses based on demographic questions relating to number of years living in Richmond, ethnicity, race and age;
3) Report of Geographic Subgroup Comparisons - a report analyzing survey responses based on geographic areas; and
4) Report of Normative Comparisons - a comparison report of local results to other jurisdictions of similar size nationwide, as well as to all jurisdictions in the database.
Elected officials and City staff can use the survey results as a tool to:
· Assess the quality of services provided to residents;
· Track resident perceptions of services, amenities, safety, etc.;
· Help make informed decisions about where to direct resources;
· Develop follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of the issues so that the City is better able to solve problems;
· Look to other jurisdictions for information about best practices; and
· Set a benchmark from which to measure changes over time.
Key findings identified by City staff
The survey confirms that Richmond residents are mainly concerned about crime, drugs, lack of opportunities for youth, the overall appearance and reputation of the City, and the quality of public school education. It also confirms that the City is focusing on the community’s top concerns. With the implementation of a new code enforcement task force, hiring of a new Crime Prevention Manager, establishment of a new Office of Neighborhood Safety, renewed partnership with the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and an increase in resources dedicated to street paving the City is demonstrating that it is moving in the right direction.
The survey results also show that:
· Respondents generally rated their neighborhood as a better place to live than they rated Richmond as a whole as a place to live.
· Openness and acceptance were community characteristics rated the highest of any other general community characteristics surveyed.
· Increased police staffing, improved road conditions, expanding after-school programs, increased street lighting, and expanding job training and development programs were viewed as the top five essential conditions the City should address.
· The 18-24 year old population is the most dissatisfied group on most issues which possibly suggests that more attention and/or resources should be focused on this segment of the population.
· Respondents who have lived here less than 2 years have a more positive view of the City’s land use, code enforcement and economic development policies than those living in Richmond for longer periods of time.
· The quality of fire service was ranked the highest of all City-employee provided services while the quality of crime prevention, street repair, and code enforcement services were the lowest. The quality of schools also ranked among the lowest.
· A large percentage of respondents admitted that they did not know about and had never used the City’s library services or recreational centers and programs.
· Similarly, respondents were less familiar with the City’s services to the senior, youth, and low-income population than other City services. More than half of the respondents did not have knowledge of the City-sponsored job training programs.
· Respondents were least likely to get information about the City and its services from the City itself (e.g., its website, City-produced weekly “Green Sheet”, City Council meetings, etc.). Instead, the majority of people received news about Richmond from the television, the West County Times and word of mouth.
· Fifty-two percent of respondents rated their overall impression of City employees as either good or excellent.
· The majority of respondents feel that both job and retail growth are moving too slow.
· Residents leave the City daily most often to dine, shop, and for their children’s schooling than they do for entertainment, food shopping, and outdoor recreation.
· The City needs to inspire more volunteerism to involve people in the betterment of the Richmond community.
The survey results allow the City to establish City service benchmarks and help the City identify major resident concerns with the goal of increasing the overall reputation of Richmond and overall quality of life for Richmond residents.