Neighbors have rated Gainesville and city services highly in the most recent findings from the 2021 Neighbor Survey, presented to the Gainesville City Commission last Thursday.
With overall positive perceptions similar to results from the 2020 survey, Gainesville was rated as an “excellent” or “good” place to live by 86 percent of those who shared an opinion – rising three percentage points from last year – and higher than either Florida (76 percent) or the U.S. (73 percent). The 79 percent of respondents who described Gainesville as an “excellent” or “good” place to raise children did not change in the past year.
Satisfaction ratings with city services were higher in Gainesville than in other communities. In fact, Gainesville ranked higher than the U.S. average in 27 of 42 areas. Most neighbors responded with a high opinion of Gainesville in these areas: public safety; recreational facilities and activities; and maintenance of traffic signals, signs and streets. Customer service satisfaction rose by four percentage points compared to 2020 survey results.
“Our neighbors are pleased with the efforts of our first responders and all community builders in helping resolve their questions and concerns,” said Gainesville City Manager Lee Feldman. “As challenging as the past year has been with the pandemic, our neighbors have recognized that our commitment to them, and to our community, has not waivered,” he said.
Now in its second year, respondents ranked the availability of employment opportunities, of mental health care and of the cost of living in Gainesville as the three top quality-of-life priorities for city leaders to consider during the next two years. Also notable were affordable housing, homelessness, east Gainesville, racial equity and police standards as the top five items in the city’s 2021 Action Plan that should receive the highest priority from city leaders. Equitable access to housing and to basic needs topped the list of future priorities.
“The annual survey helps us measure trends, compare our performance with other communities, and essentially hear from our neighbors about the issues that are important to them,” said Feldman.
The annual survey, available in both English and Spanish, is designed to gather input from neighbors to improve city programs and services, and help determine long-term planning and investment decisions. Earlier this year, 9,000 households within the city’s four commission districts were randomly selected to receive the survey by mail. A total of 1,003 neighbors responded by mail or online, including 250 responses from each city commission district, with demographics of respondents reflecting Gainesville’s population.
Neighbors whose households were not selected in the random sample are eligible to complete an open survey until May 15. While these results will not be combined with those of the mailed survey, the open survey enables all city residents to participate and share their views. It also helps staff compare results between the survey’s two different methodologies.