Since 2016, the City of Raleigh has conducted a Community Survey every two years. The City completed its most recent survey for 2022. The purpose of the Community Survey is to help the City gather input from the community on a wide range of issues impacting the overall quality of life of residents. The survey looks at multiple areas including the quality of life in the City, satisfaction with core city services, as well as perceptions of safety and value.
The survey is intended to provide statistically-valid insights that City leaders use to strategically plan for the future. The demographics do match the population of Raleigh in race, ethnicity, gender and geographic distribution. There is also a good distribution for the length of being in Raleigh from newer residents to long-term. But, the demographics fall short in two areas. 33% of the respondents are renters compared to 47% of the population. Only 18% of the respondents are in the 18 – 34 age group while 37% of the population falls in that group. We mention this because councilors always downplay the results of surveys they describe as “self-selected” when they don’t like the results. You can read about that in our report Survey Says!
In fact, lack of participation by younger residents and renters are the reasons most often cited by councilors for not trusting what they hear from the public. This was used as justification to eliminate Citizen Advisory Councils (CACs) which had been in place for 50 years and were the official method for communication between the residents and their government. It’s interesting to note that a professional survey intended to be statistically valid was no better able to gather input from younger residents and renters than what the City Council was demanding from its own volunteer CAC organization.
The results of the most recent survey were presented to City Council in a Work Session on June 13, 2023. The results were painted in an overly positive view spending very little time discussing the areas that need improvement which is where the attention needs to be focused and the work needs to be done.
While most residents do give Raleigh good marks for quality of life and as a place to live & work, the areas that need improvment jump off the page. In comparison to other cities Raleigh’s size we fare better in general. But, we scored worse than two years ago and we are dramatically lower than the average of like-sized cities in two important areas. We score 31% in Managing Growth compared to 37% nationally and our score two years ago was 47%. For Effectiveness of Communication we scored 40% compared to 50% nationally.
This survey is in essence a “Report Card” for the previous City Council that served from Dec 2019 thru Nov 2022.
As far as the grades for the previous City Council’s performance go, Raleigh’s scores declined in 71 of the 98 categories from the previous survey.
To illustrate this point, only 31% of respondents approve of the way the city has handled growth compared to 47% in the previous survey 2 years earlier. That’s a decline of over one third.
This chart is a sampling of these declines under the leadership of the previous City Council.
Comparing Survey results from 2020 to 2022
|Category||2020 Approval||2022 Approval||Change||Percent Change|
|Direction of Raleigh||62.2%||52.3%||-9.9||-15.9%|
|Availability of Affordable Housing||23.8%||11.8%||-12||-50.4%|
|New Construction’s Compatibility||35.2%||22.7%||-12.5||-35.5%|
|Quality of New Development||57.9%||42.8%||-15.1||-26%|
|Impact of Changes Made in and around Your Neighborhood||43.8%||34.7%||-9.1||-20.7%|
|Welcoming Community Member Involvement||35.8%||29.9%||-5.9||-16.5%|
|Protecting Natural Resources and the Environment||59.4%||48%||-10.6||-17.8%|
Most Significant Issues Raleigh Will Face Over the Next Five Years Identified by Respondents
Affordable Housing noted by 75% of respondents
Pace of Growth noted by 66% of respondents
Transportation noted by 47% of respondents
Some notes on the change in ratings for the previous Council
The previous council made several dramatic changes that show up negatively in the survey results.
They eliminated Single Family Zoning city-wide increasing density in neighborhoods. They went even further with the implementation of Missing Middle policies which increased density more drastically. While these changes were supposed to increase access to affordable housing, they instead incentivize replacing Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing (NOAH) with market rate and luxury housing and exacerbate gentrification.
They defunded the Citizen Advisory Councils (CACs), the city’s 50-year-old program for two-way communication between the residents and their government. They did this in secret, with no public notice and no public input. They still haven’t replaced the access that was lost to the residents.
You see the impact of these changes directly in the downward slide in the survey results.
It’s no surprise then that based on the way these changes have been viewed by the public, several members of the previous council lost re-election or chose not to run for another term. And, new candidates who supported the same policies all lost their races. The election put four new members on City Council and broke the stranglehold Mayor Baldwin had with her previous super-majority.
One of the council’s new members, District B Councilor Megan Patton, stated the results of this survey echo what is being heard from the residents in Public Comments noting those who speak up are NOT outsized or wrong-sized voices but rather these are broad reaching opinions held by the public in general.
We also note that these results match the polling results we gathered prior to the start of the 2022 election cycle. You can read those results here: Raleigh Voters Call for Change
Full survey results can be reviewed here: Community Survey
Livable Raleigh Editorial Team
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