CONCORD -- While residents are generally satisfied with the quality of life in Concord and city services, they remain deeply concerned about public safety, according to a recent survey.
Sixty-four percent of respondents rated the quality of life as "good" and 15 percent said it's "excellent." More than a quarter of those surveyed are very satisfied with city services and nearly 57 percent are somewhat satisfied.
City Manager Valerie Barone said the positive survey results reflect the City Council's leadership and direction and the hard work of city employees.
Councilman Dan Helix praised the staff.
"When we have good ratings I think it reflects most favorably on the staff and I think they deserve the credit," Helix said.
The February poll of 504 residents has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
In a presentation to the council Tuesday, Bryan Godbe of polling firm Godbe Research presented the results of the 2014 Community Priorities Survey alongside residents' responses to the same set of questions in 2010.
Although some of the results were virtually unchanged from four years ago, Godbe noted that the percentage of respondents who expect the quality of life in Concord to worsen in the next five years dropped from 25 percent in 2010 -- when the country was still mired in the recession -- to about 13 percent this year. This "dramatic" finding, he said, demonstrates that residents are feeling more optimistic about the economy and their own prospects.
Public safety issues were among the highest ranked in terms of importance. Respondents want Concord to improve gang prevention efforts, crime investigation services and police patrols in neighborhoods at night.
But Councilman Edi Birsan wondered whether fear is creating a false perception of gang activity that doesn't match reality.
"I would like to know what people have in terms of gang awareness," Birsan said, adding that Concord isn't West Oakland.
By ranking city services by importance and the level of satisfaction residents feel with the city's efforts in providing those services, council members can determine how to allocate limited funds to "get the biggest bang for your buck," Godbe said.
Residents strongly support programs that attract new businesses to the city and help existing ones expand. They also said after-school, preschool and summer programs and youth sports are very important.
A third of respondents believe Concord's finances are in good shape, despite the fact that the city is underfunding retiree benefits and has a backlog of maintenance projects with an estimated price tag of more than $6 million.
Residents ranked streetlights, street maintenance and pothole repair, traffic signal maintenance and repair and storm drains and sewer services as the most important general city services.
But they also gave the city's streets the lowest satisfaction ranking of any service -- including public safety -- perhaps reflecting the fact that Concord needs to spend $5.8 million more per year to maintain the current conditions of its roadways, according to city engineer Robert Ovadia.
Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.
Complete survey results are posted on the Concord website at www.ci.concord.ca.us