Pleasanton Weekly

Column - February 7, 2014

Survey shows we like Pleasanton

by Jeb Bing

Whether you're a Realtor, a business seeking to attract top managers or a longtime Pleasanton homeowner trying to persuade Aunt Molly to move here from frigid, snowy Boston, the news this week couldn't be any better. The results of a quality of life survey shows most of us in Pleasanton are ecstatic over our community, its resources, climate, location in the Bay Area and the economy.

Pleasanton residents remain very satisfied with the quality of life here, with the survey conducted last November again producing the highest ratings the survey firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin Metz & Associates (FM3) has seen. The Santa Monica firm has specialized in public policy-oriented opinion research since 1981 and conducts similar surveys throughout the state.

The city of Pleasanton has conducted public opinion surveys four times, starting in 1995, to determine the public's view on a variety of issues, including facilities and services. John Fairbank, president of FM3, told the City Council on Tuesday that the survey is based on telephone interviews with 699 randomly selected Pleasanton voters, including an over-sampling of Latino and Asian voters, using questions and responses from previous surveys as a baseline.

The new survey also included research into where residents obtain their information about the city with 48% of those surveyed saying they get their information about city government and local issues from the Pleasanton Weekly, just under 53% who said they rely on "conversations with family, friends and neighbors" to learn what's going on. The public library came in third at 30% with all other media well below. Those who watch City Council meetings totaled 18% of those surveyed, with only 8% saying they ever actually go to council meetings.

Seven in 10 residents continued to identify Pleasanton as an "excellent" place to live, with 25% using the term "good" and 4% saying it's "fair" or "poor." Another six out of 10 described the quality of life here as excellent, with 73% of those of us who own our homes saying we're glad to be here.

Residents also believe the city is an excellent place to raise children, with 72% using that term and another 22% saying "good." Also, 76% of those residents with children under 19 living at home described Pleasanton as an excellent place to raise a family.

Fairbank said safety is a major concern in the communities his firm surveys and that an impressive 83% of those surveyed in Pleasanton "feel safe" here. Only 1% told FM3 surveyors they find the city "unsafe."

Education and housing emerged as the most serious issues in the FM3 survey, although small in overall survey percentages. A total of 12% of those surveyed have public school concerns, another 10% have concerns over housing costs and the lack of affordable housing, 9% saying there's too much traffic on city streets and 8% complaining about "too much growth and development." Still, concerns about traffic fell dramatically compared to survey results in 2007, down 16%. Surprisingly, only 23% complained about traffic congestion on the freeways around Pleasanton, showing perhaps that only 23% of us drive on I-580 or I-680 during rush hours.

Otherwise, 88% of us think the city is doing a good job of providing local services, giving high marks to fire protection, emergency response services and water quality and safety (93%), police protection (87%) and keeping city facilities such as the library, Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center and Senior Center in good condition (86%). Street maintenance, library services, business retention and providing good recreational programs also generated high marks, with city parks and youth sports receiving favorable responses in the 90%-plus range.

Also interesting in the FM3 report is that those of us who lived in Pleasanton longer have an increasingly positive view about the city. The survey showed 63% of those here less than five years believe this is a good place to live, compared to 67% in the 6- to 10-year group, 74% in the 11- to 20-year range and 75% who have lived here 21 years or longer. That includes me, and I agree.

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