Results are in from a Marin County community survey conducted earlier this year. The County is now evaluating residents’ perceptions of the quality of public services and aspects of community livability.
The County Administrator’s Office presented an overview[PDF] of the 2023 Community Survey to the Board of Supervisors on November 7. The survey also helps the Board determine the community’s most important priorities.
The survey was completed in spring 2023 and results were presented to the Board of Supervisors at the November 7 meeting.
Top priorities cited by the anonymous respondents focused most on preservation of nature, emergency preparedness, affordable housing and solutions to homelessness, and enhancing equity in public policy.
The County of Marin contracted with a consulting firm to assess whether the county government’s services were consistent with what the community says it wants and needs. The survey had 120 questions about general quality of life, local policies, demographics, and rating of government services. In April, 4,500 randomly selected households throughout Marin, including residents from our cities, towns, and unincorporated Marin County, received the survey in the mail. It was offered online and in print in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 803 surveys were completed, resulting in a 3.5% margin of error.
The key findings were:
- The community highly values, and highly prioritizes Marin’s natural environment.
- While the community’s opinion of Marin’s emergency preparedness efforts has improved since 2018, beating benchmarks, residents continue to see natural disasters as a key concern.
- Housing availability and affordability remain among the highest priorities for most residents, and solutions for homelessness has grown as a focus since 2018.
- Some aspects of Mobility present opportunities for growth.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) remain high priorities.
“It’s important to regularly seek our community’s opinion about what’s important to them and how they feel about the services they’re receiving,” said Board President Stephanie Moulton-Peters. “While the results show there are many things for which we can be proud, they also show there’s much work to do in key areas like housing, emergency preparedness, and sea level rise, for example, that will require community-wide effort.”
The survey was conducted by Polco/National Research Center using the same survey distributed in 2018, called the National Community Survey (NCS). The format consistency allows the County to benchmark shifts in community priorities or perceptions and also compare results to those from other counties across the country. During the November 7 Board session, staff compared Marin results alongside national benchmarks and a subset of other county governments nationwide.
Assistant County Administrator Dan Eilerman said the County is eager to evaluate the results in more detail with subject matter experts in all 22 county departments.
“We rely on these surveys to help us evaluate services, understand resident needs, and plan for the future,” Eilerman said. “While the results largely validate the Board’s highest priorities, we need to regularly ask questions and test assumptions to continuously improve as an organization.”
Three subject-focused teams from the County Administrator’s Office – budget, strategic projects, and equity – plan to meet with County departmental leaders from December 2023 through March 2024 to discuss how the survey and other recently developed tools can inform and enhance their department workplan development for the next two years.
The County will continue to engage the community through initiatives such as Participatory Budgeting, the Race Equity Action Plan, and other initiatives aimed at amplifying the voices of Marin’s communities of color, immigrant communities, unhoused communities, and others often underrepresented in traditional data collection methods.
“While the data collection methods employed in the NCS are sound, we know that many communities are undercounted through traditional survey methods,” said Gary Besser, Project Manager with the County’s Office of Equity. “Programs such as the Participatory Budget and the Race Equity Action plan provide a valuable data collection strategy to amplify the voices of Marin’s communities of color and immigrant communities.”
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