This year the City of Port St. Lucie joined hundreds of cities across the country in conducting a survey which measures the quality of life for residents. The 2018 National Citizen Survey™ is a snapshot in time showing how Port St. Lucie residents from across geographical areas, ethnicities, and ages feel about their city. The survey captured opinions within three primary pillars of a community: community characteristics, governance, and participation. Eight central facets are observed within these pillars: safety, mobility, natural environment, economy, recreation and wellness, education and enrichment, and community engagement.
As part of its participation in The National Citizen Survey™, the City of Port St. Lucie conducted a mail survey of 1,500 randomly selected households and a web-based survey to its residents through a link on the City’s website. Visitors to the site could complete the survey during mid- to late-February and 5,432 surveys were received.
The Citizen Survey was conducted by the National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) a leading survey research and evaluation firm focusing on the information requirements of the public sector. The City of Port St. Lucie also conducted a citizen’s survey through NRC in 2009, which provided valuable comparative data along with baseline data that will provide citizen feedback to aid in the strategic plan update and provide valuable information that can potentially enhance all City services.
Major findings included:
- Residents’ ratings for the quality of life and services provided by the City have improved since 2009. Across the entire 2018 survey, there were 28 increases for aspects of the community and 17 increases for services provided by the City. Respondents’ evaluations for the overall quality of life; neighborhoods; the City as a place to retire, raise children and live; and the overall appearance and image have each improved considerably since the baseline survey in 2009.
- Getting around the City is easier, but residents would like to see further improvements in
Mobility. Nine years ago, Port St. Lucie residents expressed some dissatisfaction with travel and transportation within the community. The City listened and residents noticed. Many Mobility-related services increased since the last administration: respondents’ assessments of ease of travel by all modes (car, bicycle and walking); the availability of paths and walking trails; sidewalk maintenance; and bus or transit services are all more positive in 2018 than in 2009.While the City has made progress, survey participants identified areas in need of further improvement. Specifically, ratings for travel by car, bicycle and public transportation; paths and walking trails; street lighting; and bus or transit were lower than national averages. Moreover, when residents identified additional services for the City to provide, nearly half of all responses cited Mobility improvements (e.g., new or more sidewalks, road repair and construction and public transportation). In response to a question gauging respondent support for two different sales tax increases, at least three-quarters indicated they would support installing sidewalks city-wide, improving traffic flow along St. Lucie West Boulevard and repaving roadways, regardless of the sales tax terms.
- As Economy ratings rise, successes and challenges emerge. The economic downturn of 2009 may still be in residents’ minds; they identified Economy as a key community focus area for the future. Scores for the overall economic health of the community, vibrancy of the commercial area and the community as a place to work or visit lagged behind U.S. averages. Ratings for the quality of business and service establishments and shopping opportunities increased between 2009 and 2018, yet remained on par with peer communities. Other measures also increased since 2009, including employment opportunities, the City as a place to work and economic development. Additionally, Port St. Lucie residents reported greater optimism about the economy’s impact on their future income today than they did nine years ago, which was higher than levels reported elsewhere. Residents cited economic development and employment as a top service for the City to provide and a majority of residents supported a tax increase to develop the Riverfront park.
- Survey participants reveal greater need for Education and Enrichment activities. The overall education and enrichment opportunities provided the City of Port St. Lucie received ratings lower than the national average. Similarly, residents’ views on the opportunities to attend cultural/arts/music activities and scores for K-12 education lagged behind comparison communities. In the next two years, about 8 in 10 respondents emphasized the importance of overall education and enrichment as a focus area. A similar proportion felt it was important for the City to create a vocational/technical high school to prepare students for the workforce.
While education was not cited as a top service for the City to provide, a significant number of responses reflected things for residents to do in their free time, such as public amenities, activities and recreation, are a priority.
Continuously working towards becoming a high performing government organization is a key strategic goal of the City Council. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has identified conducting surveys for data-driven decisions as a leading practice for local governments to pursue in evaluating their performance, enhancing their communications with the community, and helping with decision making. The results of the Citizen Survey will help inform and guide city operations as we continue to improve.
More information on the survey is available below: