City of Alexandria Announces Findings from 2020 Resident Survey

Page updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 3:11 PM

City of Alexandria Announces Findings from 2020 Resident Survey

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2020

The City of Alexandria has announced the results of its 2020 Resident Survey, which measures residents’ satisfaction with City 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 City conducted similar resident surveys in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“Once again, the results of this survey were generally very positive, showing that government, residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations work together to make Alexandria an excellent place to live, work, visit and learn,” said City Manager Mark Jinks. “We have added interactive dashboards and an equity analysis this year, to further study what we are doing well and where improvements need to be made.”

Of approximately 3,000 households randomly selected to receive the survey by mail or online, 634 responded, allowing for statistically significant and representative results. Respondents had the option of completing the survey in English, Spanish, Amharic or Arabic. Responses were collected in January and February 2020, prior to the COVID-19 emergency. 

The results of the 2020 Resident Survey will be used to guide the City’s budget process, track progress on the City’s Strategic Plan, and provide data for the City’s performance dashboards. New this year, an interactive data dashboard is available to explore the survey results. As part of the City’s growing focus on race and social equity, the dashboard also shows differences in responses by demographic groups. The City will continue to work to identify and reduce potential causes of these gaps.

Survey data yielded the following key findings:

Community and Livability: Most respondents would recommend living in Alexandria (91%) and rated the city as an excellent or good place to live (91%). Respondents in Alexandria gave higher marks than respondents in comparator communities nationwide for being a good place to visit (91%) and overall image and reputation (87%); and similar ratings for openness and acceptance towards people of diverse backgrounds (71%). Respondents were asked what they perceive to be barriers to living in Alexandria. The highest perceived barriers reported were age (12%), race (11%) and national origin (8%). The lowest perceived barriers were sexual orientation (4%), gender identity (4%), gender (5%) and religion (5%). These results were similar to those from 2018.

Economy: Alexandria's economy received some of the highest rankings in the survey, while affordability received some of the lowest. The highest-rated items were residents making purchases in Alexandria (98%); Alexandria as a place to visit (91%); and dining opportunities (88%). Other aspects ranked higher than comparator communities nationwide included Alexandria as a place to work (83%); the vibrancy of Alexandria’s downtown (79%); shopping opportunities (77%); and employment opportunities (64%). Cable television (33%); availability of affordable, quality housing (18%); and cost of living (18%) were all ranked lower than in comparator jurisdictions.

Education and Enrichment: Public libraries (87%) and historic preservation services (86%) were highly rated by respondents, while City-sponsored special events (70%); museums (70%); out-of-school activities for youth (61%); adult educational opportunities (59%); K-12 education (50%); and availability of quality child care/preschool (40%) declined from the last survey. K-12 education and availability of affordable, quality child care and preschool were below national comparisons.

Emergency Preparedness and Public Safety: Respondents reported feeling safe overall, with 96% feeling safe in Old Town during the day, and 95% feeling safe in their neighborhood during the day. Public safety services also were rated highly; notably fire services, with 95% of residents indicating satisfaction. Of the 26% of respondents who reported having contact with a police officer in the last year, 89% rated that experience as good or excellent. Most residents also rated police collaboration (83%), responsiveness (83%) and relationships with the community (79%) positively. In 2020, there was a statistically significant increase (to 69%) in satisfaction with the quality of the City's emergency preparedness services. Areas for improvement include residents with three days of emergency supplies (53%) and residents who have discussed an emergency plan with their households (41%).

Engagement: Respondents were likely to read or watch local news (86%) or vote in local elections (84%). There was a decline from 2018 in the rating of opportunities to volunteer (to 75%). 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: Respondents gave high marks for Alexandria’s historic character (88%); garbage collection (82%); public places where people want to spend time (81%); and cleanliness (79%). Respondents were likely to recycle at home (87%). Areas of decline from the 2018 survey included satisfaction with yard waste pickup (72%); air quality (72%); and stormwater drainage (62%), but these were similar to comparator jurisdictions. Home energy efficiency (64%) and recycling services (63%) were rated lower than comparators.

Focus for the Future: When asked which issues should be prioritized for community focus in the next two years, respondents cited safety (90%); economic health (88%); and ease of getting around (86%). While still considered important, respondents were less likely to prioritize pre-K and child care (72%); sense of community (72%); and health and wellness opportunities (71%).

Government: About 47% of respondents said they had contact with a City employee other than law enforcement in the past 12 months, of which 83% indicated a positive overall impression of the employee. Additionally, 88% said the employee was knowledgeable; 87% said the employee was courteous; and 87% said the employee was responsive. Perception of City service quality (77%); government honesty (59%); acting in the best interest of the community (57%); responsiveness to requests, questions and comments (56%); treating all residents fairly (55%); transparency to the public (52%); and contacting City staff for help or information (41%) all declined in 2020.

Mobility: Respondents reported high satisfaction with street signs (82%); ease of walking (77%); and availability of paths and walking trails (76%). Ease of walking was also rated higher than comparator jurisdictions. Satisfaction with bus and transit services was down from 2018 (to 74%), but ranked higher than in comparator jurisdictions, as did ease of travel by public transportation (61%). Several other survey questions declined from last year, including the overall ease of getting to places usually visited (68%); traffic enforcement (59%); ease of travel by car (48%); traffic flow on major streets (34%); and ease of public parking (31%). These ratings were similar to comparator jurisdictions, except that public parking and ease of travel by car were lower than comparators.

Recreation and Wellness: Respondent satisfaction with public libraries (87%); parks (87%); recreation programs or classes (77%); health services (69%); and affordable, quality mental health services (51%) were in line with comparator communities. Most respondents did not use online public library services (39%) or participate in a recreation program or class (29%) in the last year.

Visit alexandriava.gov/Performance to view the survey report and data dashboard.

For inquiries from the news media only, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at andrea.blackford@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3959.

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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/116232.

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