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Citizen survey: Federal Way has some work to do
The city council and management staff reviewed results of Federal Way’s Citizen Survey on Nov. 5 at a special meeting.
The council ordered the survey to gauge how satisfied residents are with the services, experiences, policies and appearance of Federal Way.
The survey revealed work is needed to improve the city’s image and public perception, city manager Neal Beets said. Positive highlights include highly-ranked public utilities, health services, library services and a wide range of affordable housing, according to survey results.
In all, 934 statistically valid responses were gathered through the survey, which asked questions about residents’ degree of satisfaction with the quality of the community, community design, public safety, recreation, community inclusiveness, civic engagement, cultural opportunities and public trust.
The data was used to compare Federal Way with 100 other cities nationwide whose residents completed the same survey. Results were provided to the council in a way that reflected the percentage of residents who ranked police services as good or excellent, for example. The council was also told whether the other cities had seen a similar, lesser or greater percentage of satisfaction in specific areas.
Though the majority of respondents were satisfied with the city’s overall appearance, 64 percent said Federal Way’s population is growing too rapidly. Eighty-eight percent said rundown buildings, weeds and junk vehicles were, at the least, a minor problem.
Residents ranked the city’s public safety below the benchmark set by other cities, according to the survey. For instance, only 33 percent of respondents said they felt safe downtown after dark. Twenty-one percent reported being a victim of a crime within the last year.
“Public safety is the area of greatest concern as to public perception,” Beets said.
Additionally, only one-fifth of residents reported attending a public meeting and only 33 percent ranked the city’s environment as welcoming.
“I do think it is the case on the public information front that we have a lot of work to do,” Beets said.
The availability of affordable housing was ranked favorably, Beets said. Residents also appear to appreciate the city’s variety of health care services, he said. The city will continue to maintain close working relationships with the utilities providers as a way to ensure customer satisfaction, he said.
The city council asked staff to provide further information about the survey so that it may determine how far below the benchmark Federal Way places in categories where residents showed dissatisfaction. The benchmark was established by looking at other cities that partook in the survey.
Mayor Jack Dovey said he would like to compare Federal Way’s results with those of similarly populated cities as well as other Washington cities. City council member Dini Duclos told the council and audience she has lived in Federal Way for several years and has seen positive changes. She urged the council and staff not to be discouraged with the survey’s findings.
“I think we are on the right road,” Duclos said. “Sometimes it’s hard to change perceptions.”
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Federal Way expects to post complete survey results online soon at www.cityoffederalway.com/.