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City government rating falls in latest survey

Results don't show reason for decline

Although most Portlanders feel good about their town and neighborhoods, they give lower ratings to city government and many services than in the past, according to the 21st Annual Community Survey released Tuesday.

Among other things, the survey found that 78 percent of Portland residents feel positively about city livability and 86 percent feel positive about their neighborhood's livability.

However, only 49 percent of Portlanders rated city government's overall job as very good or good, compared to 55 percent just five years ago.

The survey did not ask the reasons for the decline.

"Portlanders have opinions about City government services from police and fire to community development, parks, water, and streets. These opinions, and changes in these opinions over time, can be studied by City managers and reviewed by elected officials to find areas for improvement as well as to identify programs with high public satisfaction," the survey says.


• Click here to read the city report.


Ratings of the city's job making downtown a good place for living, working, shopping and recreation also declined, dropping to 58 percent from 69 percent in 2008.

Street maintenance ratings also declined over the past five years, dropping from 40 percent positive in 2007 to 35 percent positive in 2011.

According to the survey, satisfaction with city parks and recreation services was high, with 85 percent of residents rating parks as very good or good, and 77 percent rating recreation services highly.

Ratings of the police dropped, however. The survey found that 59 percent of residents felt positively about police in 2011, compared with 65 percent in 2007.

Feelings about police services varied by neighborhood coalition areas, from a high of 67 percent in the East Portland to a low of 53 percent in North Portland.

Other public safety serves rated higher, however. According to the survey, 87 percent of residents gave fire and emergency services positive ratings, while 76 percent felt positive about 9-1-1 services.

The survey found that 71 percent of residents rated water service quality positive, compared to 46 percent for sewer service and 41 percent for storm drainage service.

The survey was conducted before the city switched its garbage collection service to once a week and increased its composting and yard debris pick ups to once a week. Before the change, 78 percent of residents felt positively about garbage and recycling service quality. When evaluating the cost of the service, however, only about half of residents felt positively.

When it comes to transportation the survey found that 63 percent of residents drove to work alone in 2011, while 12 percent took public transit, seven percent rode bicycles, six percent carpooled, six percent walked and six percent reported some other form of transportation.

Portlanders do not believe rush hour congestion changed much since last year, with 48 percent rating it good or very good and 51 percent rating it bad or very bad.

The survey was conducted by the Office of the City Auditor. It mailed 10,150 introductory postcards and questionnaires to households in each of the city's seven neighborhood coalition offices in July. A reminder postcard was mailed out two weeks after that. There were 334 postcards or surveys returned as undeliverable, leaving 9,816 usable addresses. A total of 3,731 surveys were returned, a 38 percent response rate. The auditor's office says the results are roughly 95 percent accurate.