Gangs, economy worry Redwood residents

March 8, 2009 11:34:54 AM PDT
A new survey shows Redwood City residents are largely satisfied with the quality of life in their hometown, although concerns about the economy and gang presence have increased, city officials said this week.

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The first such survey since 2003, this document reflects a city of 58,400 adult residents who interact frequently with their neighbors and enjoy their redeveloped downtown. Nine out of 10 residents are "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with life in Redwood City.

The survey was conducted by phone during December 2008,spokesman Malcolm Smith said. Pollsters took efforts to ensure the 400 participants were selected at random, and represented a variety of ethnicities and neighborhoods.

No single issue emerged as an overwhelming problem in the city, Smith said. While the economy topped the list of resident concerns, only 11 percent identified it as an important issue. Concerns about gangs received a 9 percent response and 7 percent of residents are concerned about affordable housing.

Smith said these results were "not a surprise, but a confirmation."

Prior surveys indicated concerns about affordable housing, education and traffic congestion.

The city uses this document to gauge where services need improvement, Smith said. Data is cross-tabbed by respondents' location so city employees can detect trends.

If residents from a particular neighborhood express dissatisfaction with sidewalks or street sweeping, for example, the public works department can work to improve these issues.

In tough budget times, Smith said the document will help the city "use our resources where they're needed the most."

Of the eight city services listed in the survey, disaster preparedness and affordable housing received the lowest marks, while the city's efforts to draw people downtown topped the list.

Overall, 86 percent of respondents said their sense of community is "very strong" or "somewhat strong." Nine out of 10 interact with their neighbors. Half the respondents give their time or money to a local organization, although 80 of residents have never seen a city council meeting.

The city aims to conduct surveys every few years, Smith said, but other budget priorities resulted in a five-year gap since the last one. He was not sure whether the program would survive future budget talks.

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