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Aspen voters and residents gave the City of Aspen high marks in the 2019 Citizen Survey, particularly in comparison to nationwide trends. Respondents in Aspen were much more satisfied with their quality of life here – 93% satisfaction – compared to 65% nationally. Also, 83% of residents were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with City Services compared to only 45% nationwide. “Each year since 1997 the City of Aspen has asked its citizens how things are going with a resident survey,” said Karen Harrington, Director of the Quality Office. “What we were excited about this year was that with a change of vendors (to Elevated Insights) and new survey content, the data dug deeper into our community’s values to ascertain the alignment between our residents’ expectations, the services we provide, and the policies the City implements.” This year’s survey was written with a more balanced blend of questions than in the past. The new question set reflected more than customer service satisfaction, digging into questions about the general state of the City and present and future planning and policy needs. This allows for the City to be nimble and more responsive to its residents.In contrast to previous surveys, this year’s Citizen Survey organized questions under the City’s stated five strategic focus areas, which include economic vitality and fiscal health, safe and lived-in community of choice, smart customer focused government, protecting the environment, and community engagement. Most respondents were satisfied with the job the City is doing ensuring safety (88%), environmental protection (77%), and community engagement (67%). Less than half were satisfied with making Aspen a livable community of choice (45%), being customer focused (42%), and fostering economic vitality (41%).Some overall conclusions include:• City service ratings are most closely tied to perceptions of customer focus, with residents wanting earlier opportunities for feedback on projects and initiatives.• When asked for ideas for improvements, residents focused many comments on affordable housing; controlling development; promoting and retaining local, affordable businesses; addressing traffic/congestion; and better enforcement of certain laws and ordinances. Among parents, increasing the affordability and available of childcare was also key.Some other survey findings include:• 62% indicated the City provides value overall for the taxes paid• More than ¾ feel arts and culture are important to the community• More than 80% support requiring composting at restaurants and City facilities• More than 50% agree it is important to expand infant and childcare spaces• Most want APCHA to focus on workforce housing, followed by community housing• Less than half feel their needs for information from the City are being met• Less than 1/3 felt the City handles development pressures well• Only 15% agree that community needs are sufficiently met by local businesses• Less than 10% agree that young families can afford to live and work hereIn its ideas for potential next steps, Elevated Insights suggests the City can have the most impact by focusing on actions that increase economic vitality for residents. Among their suggestions are:• Increase affordable housing, especially rentals and larger units• Provide a transition for seniors from APCHA housing• Increase affordable childcare and infant care spaces• Provide incentives and supports to enable affordable local shops, restaurants and service providers to thrive• Increase affordability overall for workers and senior“The fact that this survey offers tangible ways that the City can take action to improve its performance and is increasingly focused on community needs is impressive,” said Alissa Farrell, Interim Assistant City Manager/HR Director. “We are already identifying topic areas we can workshop for further changes, ways we can communicate better, and how we can formulate future workplans with the survey results in mind.”This year the survey was administered electronically as opposed to previous years where it was mail only. All registered voters, APCHA residents living with the City limits, and people living in City-owned housing were offered an opportunity to participate in the formal poll. In addition, an informal poll for those residing outside the geography of the formal sample were also invited to complete a survey. On Monday, December 9, representatives from Elevated Insights, along with City staff, will present the survey results to Council in a work session. For a copy of the survey results, visit: https://www.cityofaspen.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/638