Brooklyn Center City Council receives 2017 residential survey results

The Brooklyn Center City Council received and accepted the results of a citywide survey that accrued the opinions of citizens on a wide variety of city-related topics.

During its Feb. 27 work session, the council viewed the results of a study performed by the third-party Morris Leatherman Company, which was commissioned to survey 400 random Brooklyn Center residents via telephone Jan. 12-31. Morris Leatherman cofounder Peter Leatherman presented the results to the council, marking the third time the company surveyed city residents after similar surveys in 2009 and 2012.

“I think one of the most interesting things about your survey is, now with three data points, we have trends that we can see,” said Leatherman. “There’s a stability now within the city that wasn’t there in 2009 … we’re going to see some of the incredible changes from 2009 to this point in people’s attitudes.”

When asked about the quality of life in Brooklyn Center, the percentage of total respondents that chose “excellent” or “good” was 87 percent, compared to 85 percent in 2012.

“It’s stabilized from the 2012 study, and it’s about where we see the metro area now,” said Leatherman. “Most folks don’t live in a city that they only think is fair or poor, so the true differentiation … is the ‘excellent’ or the ‘good.’ You can see that the ‘excellent’ has tripled since 2009.”

The 2017 survey also showed that in terms of what residents liked most about Brooklyn Center, location and neighborhoods ranked the highest, while 22 percent of residents found the most serious city issue to be rising crime, which was a marked decrease from 40 percent in 2009.

Eighty-four percent of respondents found that the direction of Brooklyn Center was going in the right direction, compared to 10 percent finding it going on the wrong track. When asked about their opinion on the number of opportunities to participate in the city, 59 percent said they were somewhat satisfied, and 29 percent said they were very satisfied.

Another glaring difference between the respondents of the 2009 and 2017 surveys was in regards to thoughts on the city’s general redevelopment initiatives. In 2009, only 23 percent thought that redevelopment was “excellent” or “good.” This year, that number was 62 percent. In terms of city code enforcement, residents were largely satisfied with law enforcement response to loose animals, on-street parking and junk cars at residences.

“Any improvement here will have long-term benefits as the city moves forward in the minds of residents,” said Leatherman.

City confidence in property taxes in 2017 saw only 47 percent respond as “very high” or “somewhat high,” compared to 53 percent in 2009.

“You’re still not back to where you were in 2009, but we’re seeing this increase over the last 18 months,” said Leatherman. “A lot of it has to do with last year’s … election and the discussion of taxes. So that’s impacted people’s perceptions a little bit, but you’re still not a hostile tax climate.”

Respondents showed overwhelming support for city services, however, with “excellent/good” responses ranging between 93 and 72 percent for services varying from police protection and park maintenance to snow plowing and property enforcement.

“This time around, it’s much more spread out,” said Leatherman. “You don’t have any concern that’s at 25, 30, 35 percent. Not one issue is singled out in the minds of residents that they think needs to be dealt with immediately.”

Seventy-one percent of respondents said that they felt safe walking alone in neighborhoods at night, a slight dip from 2009’s 75 percent, while 64 percent of respondents said that they did not participate in the city’s Neighborhood Watch program. The greatest safety concerns from respondents were youth crimes, vandalism and drugs.

Positive views on the city’s growing population diversity increased from 2009 numbers, with 41 percent of respondents thinking that growing diversity was a good thing, compared to 32 percent in 2009.

“Five years ago, you had a lot more people seeing both positive and negative in growing diversity,” said Leatherman. “Fifty-two percent in the flat majority said both. This time around, only 10 percent said both, but the uncertainty grew to 29 percent.”

Approval of the Brooklyn Center City Council and the mayor also outperformed results from eight years ago, with 83 percent of 2017 respondents approving or strongly approving the mayor and council’s performance, compared to 65 percent in 2009. Approval of city staff members also grew from 2009’s numbers, with 85 percent approving or strongly approving versus 54 percent in 2009.

And in regards to how well the city does in terms of communication local issues with residents, 83 percent of respondents in the 2017 survey responded with “excellent” or “good.”

“Eight years ago, 62 percent rated it favorably, 32 percent rated it negatively,” said Leatherman. “You are in the enviable position, as people have more information, they are more positive.”

Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]