City wonders: Do you like me?

Eighteen years after Federal Way’s incorporation, residents will be asked for the first time to collectively provide feedback this summer on what they like and dislike about their city.

The city council gave its go-ahead Tuesday on a comprehensive, random survey of up to 3,400 citizens.

The survey is a way for the city to increase its communication with residents and evaluate the services it offers, city spokeswoman Linda Farmer said. The National Citizen Survey will be conducted and provided by the National Research Center.

“Our first task is to figure out where we stand,” Farmer said.

Now, the city has no measurable means to evaluate residents’ satisfaction or how well policies and procedures are working. It has no way of regularly comparing the city to itself as years pass. Nor does staff have a means to compare Federal Way to other cities, she said.

“We don’t have anything to compare it to,” Farmer said. “This (survey) is our baseline, essentially.”

The questionnaire will be randomly sent to 3,000 households. The National Research Center guarantees 400 completed phone surveys between July 14 and Aug. 18. The approximately 150-question evaluation will ask residents to weigh in on topics such as public transportation, sensitivity toward diverse populations, sense of community, rate of growth, quality of life, public services and safety in Federal Way.

Questions will be asked in English, Korean, Spanish and Russian to better serve the community. The city will pay $2,100 for Korean translation and $1,450 for Spanish, both provided by the National Research Center. A school district volunteer will translate the survey into Russian for $900. A total of approximately $29,100 will be spent to gather the public’s thoughts.

Once the initial results are collected, anyone who would like to participate in the evaluation will be able to do so by filling out the survey online at the city’s Web site, These answers will then be integrated into the results, Farmer said.

The city considered paying for a customized survey, as well as decreasing the length of the National Citizen Survey, but ultimately decided to adopt a questionnaire that will make it easier to evaluate the city’s efforts against those of other cities.

“I’d rather go with the long survey and get all the information,” mayor Jack Dovey said.

The city hopes to receive a minimum of 1,000 returned mailings and hopes to get more feedback from its Web site, Farmer said. Statistically, the city could get a general measure of how occupants feel about their city from as little as 300 completed surveys, but would like to include as many residents as possible, Farmer said.

“To raise the internal comfort level, we would love to do a mailing to the entire citizenry, but we don’t have the money to,” Farmer said.

Contact Jacinda Howard:

Survey questions will ask Federal Way citizens to rate topics such as the following:

Federal Way as a place to live

Openness and acceptance of the community toward people of diverse backgrounds

Ease of automobile travel

Ease of bus travel

Availability of affordable health care

Rate of population growth

Violent crime

Recreational centers or facilities

Services to low-income residents

Public library services

Garbage collection

Emergency preparedness

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