(BLOOMINGTON) – Results of the second biennial city-wide survey were presented at Wednesday’s meeting of the Bloomington City Council.
As in 2017, the randomized, scientifically valid survey gave residents the opportunity to provide feedback on their general perceptions of the quality of life in Bloomington; to evaluate City programs, services, government performance; and to identify projects or issues facing the City. Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton initiated the effort to conduct the first city-wide survey in 2016 to grow public engagement, increase transparency, establish a baseline of public opinion, and acquire data to inform decisions about resource deployment. A complete report of the 2019 community survey is available here.
“We’re grateful that community members took the time to share their thoughts and feelings about life in Bloomington,” said Hamilton. “The data help us evaluate how well we are delivering basic services and how best we can support the quality of life here. Trends and highlights also help us identify and address our challenges, and the whole package can be a valuable tool for current and prospective residents and employers.”
Access to cultural opportunities and the natural environment and sense of community led the attributes respondents cited as favorite city assets. In most categories, the survey represented opinions that were consistent with those recorded in 2017 (within a four percent margin of error). Ease of public parking and housing affordability were among the least positively ranked aspects of Bloomington life. Job creation was broadly cited as a priority, and homelessness a challenge.
The most resonant theme of the 2019 survey was that parks, recreation, and cultural opportunities contribute to the quality of life in Bloomington.
Bloomington’s 8 out of 10 respondents citing positive overall opportunities for education and enrichment and the natural environment exceeded national averages. Also higher than national benchmarks were the 9 in 10 residents who praised the opportunity to attend cultural, arts and musical activities, and the more than half of the respondents who had recently attended a City-sponsored event. Residents also rated their sense of safety highly, with 8 out of 10 respondents indicating that they felt safe in Bloomington, a ratio on par with the national benchmark.
Residents responded with similar enthusiasm to questions about the sense of community in Bloomington, as well as the city’s diversity and inclusivity. Bloomingtonians reported using active modes of transportation (such as walking or biking, carpooling, or public transportation) at rates higher than the national average and in peer communities. Bloomington’s public transit system was rated highly, exceeding the national average.
The City of Bloomington again contracted with Boulder, Colo.-based National Research Center, Inc. to conduct the 2019 survey, which captured opinions of a representative sample of 3,000 randomly selected resident households starting in February. Of those 3,000 residents mailed invitations to participate in the survey, 610 replied, a response rate of 21 percent. Survey results were weighted in proportion to the City’s distribution of a number of criteria: housing type (rent or own, attached or detached), gender and age. Detailed cross-tabs within the survey allow an analysis of results related to location, age, gender, tenure of residence, and other factors.
Beyond the scientific survey, the City invited residents who were not already participating in completing an open participation survey. The results from this unscientific, opt-in version of the survey have been compiled separately for review.