The City of Alexandria announced results of the 2018 Resident Survey, which measures residents’ satisfaction with City programs and services, and other key indicators. The survey, developed in conjunction with the National Research Center and the International City/County Management Association, included questions specific to Alexandria as well as standardized questions to allow comparison to national benchmarks.
“The results of this survey were generally very positive, with high livability, economy and safety scores, and positive overall views of government services,” said City Manager Mark Jinks. “The City uses this survey as an accountability tool to see where we are doing well and where improvements need to be made. City staff and community members have worked hard to achieve such favorable results.”
Out of the 3,000 households randomly selected to receive the survey by mail, nearly 700 returned responses, allowing for statistically significant and representative results. The City conducted similar resident surveys in 2016 and 2017 to measure resident satisfaction.
Survey data yielded the following key findings:
Livability and Inclusivity: Alexandria continues to be a place residents want to live. Most respondents would recommend living in Alexandria (94%) and rated the city as an “excellent” or “good” place to live (92%). Respondents in Alexandria gave higher marks than respondents in comparator communities nationwide for being a good place to visit, overall image and reputation, and openness and acceptance towards people of diverse backgrounds. However, housing affordability and cost of living remain challenges for many residents. Satisfaction ratings for both categories were below 24%, which is lower than the average of comparator communities.
As part of the survey, respondents were asked what they perceive to be barriers to living in Alexandria. The highest perceived barriers reported were age (13%), race (10%), and color (9%). The lowest perceived barriers were religion (3%), gender identity (4%), and sexual orientation (5%).
Safety: Overall, respondents reported feeling safe in their communities, with 96% feeling safe in their neighborhood and 96% feeling safe in Old Town. Public safety services were rated highly, most notably with 96% of respondents indicating satisfaction with fire services. Most (84%) residents who had recent contact with a police officer rated that experience as good or excellent, and more than 84% of residents rated police collaboration, responsiveness, and relationships with the community positively. In surveys of this type, this 84% positive rating is considered a very high score.
City Government: The survey included questions regarding contact with City employees other than law enforcement. About 42% of respondents said they had contact with a City employee in the past 12 months, of which 85% indicated a positive overall impression of the employee. Additionally, 88% said the employee was knowledgeable, 87% said the employee was courteous, and 84% said the employee was responsive. Similar to comparator communities, fewer than 20% of respondents said they had either contacted their elected officials, watched a local public meeting online or on television, or attended a local public meeting in person over the last year.
Environment and Transportation: Environment and transportation received generally positive results, with some indications of areas for improvement. The highest-ranked items were respondents who recycle at home (86%), satisfaction with garbage collection (83%), and satisfaction with street signs (83%). Satisfaction with snow removal has increased significantly, from 56% in 2017 to 71% in 2018. Although similar to ratings in comparator communities, respondent satisfaction was lower for street repairs (42%), traffic flow on major streets (40%), and ease of public parking (39%). Multi-modal transportation was rated above Alexandria’s comparator communities, including bus or transit services (79%), ease of walking (79%), travel by bike (68%), and travel by public transportation (64%).
Economy and Affordability: Alexandria’s economy and affordability earned mixed results, with the economy receiving some of the highest rankings in the survey, and affordability receiving some of the lowest. The highest-rated items were residents making purchases in Alexandria (98%) and dining opportunities (87%). Many aspects of Alexandria were ranked higher than comparator communities, including shopping opportunities (82%) and the vibrancy of Alexandria’s downtown (80%). Additionally, an area of improvement has been residents’ perception that the economy will have an overall positive impact on their income in the next six months, from 31% in 2017 to 40% in 2018. While the economy is strong, respondents indicated there are several opportunities for improvement in the areas of employment and affordability. Cable television (37%), residents working in Alexandria (30%), availability of affordable housing (24%), and cost of living (23%) were all ranked lower than comparator jurisdictions.
Recreation and Libraries: Respondent satisfaction with public libraries and parks were both above 87%, in line with ratings from comparison communities. Access to and use of services was lower, including availability of affordable quality child care or preschool (45%), use of online public library services in the last year (39%), and participation in a recreation program or class in the last year (28%).
The results of this survey will be used to guide the City’s budget process, track progress on the City’s Strategic Plan, and provide data for performance reports. To view the survey report, visit alexandriava.gov/Performance.