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Renton earns high marks in survey

February 2, 2012

For more information contact:
Preeti Shridhar,
Communications Director 425-430-6569

2011 City of Renton Survey Results Online

Renton WA: A random survey of Renton residents and businesses gave the city positive feedback in various areas, continuing the tradition of a several-year trend. Renton residents say they continue to enjoy a high quality of life, businesses are optimistic about the future of the economy, and City of Renton employees received very high marks for the quality of the service they provide.

“The City of Renton conducts a survey of our community about every four years to give us important feedback and help us get a better understanding of our community’s experience with city services,” said Mayor Denis Law. “The Renton Community Survey serves as a consumer report card for our city by providing residents and businesses the opportunity to rate their satisfaction with the quality of life, business climate and services, as well as satisfaction with local government.”

In 2011, two different surveys were conducted–a residential survey for homeowners and renters within the city of Renton, and a business survey for businesses and non-profit organizations.

Residential Survey – Methodology:
A scientifically valid telephone survey of Renton residents was fielded in October 2011 using a random sample of telephone and cell phones, and weighting the date to ensure equitable representation of the non-white population and for age.

Key Findings:
In the areas of quality of life and safety, most respondents gave positive feedback. More than half the respondents reported that the overall direction the city is taking is excellent or good. Thirteen percent reported that they did not know. Seventy-six percent rated Renton as a good or excellent place to live, and a majority gave the city high marks as a place to raise children, work and retire.

A majority of those surveyed indicated that their neighborhoods were safe – 68% felt very safe in their neighborhoods in 2011, compared to only 48% in 2004. Fewer considered the downtown area safe.

“This feedback indicates that our efforts to make our community feel safe are paying off,” said Mayor Law. “Public safety continues to be our priority and we will continue to use proactive approaches to target crime.”

Most people reported they were prepared for a disaster, with enough food and water for three days. A majority reported they had helped a friend or neighbor, read the Renton newsletter, viewed the Renton website, or had contact with a city employee. Seventy-four percent rated interaction with City of Renton employees as either good or excellent and rated them high for their courtesy, knowledge, responsiveness and overall impression.

Ninety-three percent reported they would support additional taxes to pay for maintaining existing parks, and a large majority supported additional taxes for expanding transit service, new sidewalks and streets, and new parks.

One of the areas where residents expressed concerns was safety in downtown Renton. A high number of people still perceive downtown Renton to be unsafe, particularly in the evening. Other areas for improvement include travelling in and through the city, court services, street repair and maintenance, police response to traffic problems, and taste and cleanliness of drinking water. The city will continue to focus on downtown safety and the other issues identified and take the necessary steps to address these.

Business Survey – Methodology and sample characteristics:
For the first time, the city also conducted a survey of local businesses and non-profit organizations. The survey was fielded in September 2011 to a random sample of businesses and non-profit organizations within the city.

Key Findings:
Generally, most surveyed organizations believe that economic conditions are either flat or improving. Eighty-eight percent reported being satisfied with Renton as a place to do business. Many respondents think their business prospects will improve or stay the same in the next 12 months. Some of the challenges they reported included fewer customers, financing and regulations. A majority expect the number of employees in their organizations to stay the same in the coming year, while 26% said they’d be hiring.

A majority reported positive experiences working with the City of Renton. In general those who worked directly with the city indicated that they received accurate and timely information, and felt that staff was professional and courteous, and helped them find solutions to problems.

The respondents suggested that the city can best support businesses and non-profit organizations by providing problem-solving and relationship-building assistance, lowering taxes, attracting businesses, and having predictable regulations.

A few organizations expressed challenges such as sign restrictions, timeliness of response, and lack of organization and communication.

“Efforts to attract new employers and encourage others to start new businesses are very important; however, the retention and expansion of established businesses is the foundation of our city’s economic development,” said Mayor Law. “It is very gratifying to know that 96% of our businesses and non-profit organizations are not planning to relocate from Renton.”

"Overall, the survey results represent very good news," said Law. "It reinforces our belief that city employees are dedicated to providing first class services to the community. As we look to the future, we need to use these results to see where improvements can be made, and continue to build on our track record.”

For full copies of the surveys, visit rentonwa.gov