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'People are really happy in West Linn'

Survey finds residents content with city services


People like living in West Linn; they really do.

Though it comes as no surprise, the city’s most recent community survey found that 82 percent of those asked think West Linn is a “great” place. Another 15 percent regard it as a “good” place and a meager 1 percent think it is only “fair.”

The online survey was conducted between Nov. 14 and 25 and had 324 respondents. Though the survey is not statistically valid, the results are in line with previous surveys and city staff believes the results are reliable.

The survey was conducted to help guide staff and the city council in deciding next year’s projects and goals.

“It’s important to understand what the community is looking for so we can align our priorities,” City Manager Chris Jordan said. “This will give us a really good sense of what the community is looking for.”by:  VERN UYETAKE - West Linn parks rank high with residents, according to a recently conducted online survey.

Since 2008, the general satisfaction in livability in the city has grown from 78 to 82 percent with those living in the Bolton and Robinwood neighborhoods the least satisfied at 71 percent. The most content residents live in the central south part of the city, including Parker Crest, Savanna Oaks, Barrington Heights and Sunset neighborhoods.

“Basically, people are really happy in West Linn,” said Tom Eiland, a consultant with CFM Strategic Communications, who administered the survey.

The four top-ranking values of West Linn residents are education (67 percent), safety (63 percent), family-friendly (47 percent) and parks (41 percent).

City services residents think the most highly of are parks (81 percent), library services (79 percent), police and public safety (70 percent) and recreation programs (52 percent). Economic development received the worst rating at 12 percent with financial management coming in at 23 percent and street maintenance at 37 percent.

Two services saw a large reduction in the perception of quality: sewer services dropped from 65 to 51 percent and water services dropped from 69 to 43 percent.

The top four priorities residents want the city to work on in 2013 were financial management, economic development, growth management and trails, bike and pedestrian connections.

Eiland told city staff during a review of the survey Dec. 4 that growth management may be something the city should “delve into a little more deeply” to determine what residents mean by the term.

According to the survey, perceptions for environmental protection, keeping promises and financial management have improved since 2010 and 90 percent of respondents agreed the city should encourage economic development in existing commercial areas.

The survey also tested the Stafford waters, asking residents if the area should be developed and who should manage that growth. By more than a three-to-one margin, respondents agreed West Linn should be responsible for planning and regulating the development of Stafford if it is incorporated into the urban growth boundary. However, coming with that statement were a lot of questions as to whether it would remain open and rural, how traffic would be dealt with and who would pay for development.

“They want to know what it is going to look like and who’s going to pay for it,” Eiland said.

The survey also asked residents were they get information about the city. Sixty-three percent cited the West Linn Tidings as their main source with the city’s West Linn Update coming in second with 41 percent.

West Linn residents are more social media savvy on average than other cities, with 75 percent using a mix of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, WordPress and other social media outlets. Eiland recommended the city explore the use of QR codes, which are scanned by smartphones, as 37 percent of the respondents reported using them.

But the results were not all rosy. There were also a slate of problems cited, with 21 percent thinking water issues are the city’s worst problem. The next closest problem at 11 percent was economic development. The jump of water to the top of the list may be in part because of the city’s recent education campaign to inform residents about the city’s aging water infrastructure.

Other problems making the list were financial management, roads, recreation facilities, safety, growth management, the Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant project, taxes, listening to the community, bike and pedestrian lane access, traffic issues, sewer needs, protecting Stafford and environmental issues.



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