Community Survey

In its recent history, the City of Vallejo had not conducted a broad community survey to assess community perception of quality of life issues and satisfaction with City services and programs. On October 24, 2017, the City Council authorized staff to proceed with contracting with Fairbank Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) to conduct a community survey and directed staff to return to the City Council to review the results, make them available to the community on the City’s website, and use them for consideration in planning and decision making.

While some generic questions regarding public attitudes towards city services were asked in prior polls, the primary focus was to assess a sample of the public, selected as the statistically likely electorate, gauging their support or opposition for a tax measure. In contrast, this community survey, a sample of the demographic representation of the Vallejo community based on census data, was asked about a wide range of topics, including but not limited to understanding of the City's infrastructure challenges, economic development priorities, and public safety needs.  The top-line results are available here, slide presentation to the City Council available here, and presentation to the City Council accessible here

Brief Analysis of Survey Results and Evaluation

As a point of reference, FM3 was retained and conducted polling services for the City in 2009, 2010 and 2016.  Though the results from these polls may be compared to the results of this survey, it is important to note the distinction between sample groups, as noted above, the likely electorate versus a demographically representative sample of the community where age, ethnicity, and highest level of education, are statistically dissimilar. 
However, employing FM3’s services has provided consistency in methodology and afforded the ability to compare results to prior polls taking into account a margin of error.  FM3 prepared a community file, assisted with drafting the survey, conducted the survey, tabulated the data, and assisted the City in analyzing the survey results.  

From February 7-27, 2018, FM3 collected responses from 820 Vallejo residents via an online survey and telephone interviews. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/-4.0 percent at a confidence level of 95 percent. In order to rate the satisfaction of City services, and keep to a 15- to 20-minute survey length, some of the questions were asked of only one-half of the sample.  Participants responded to a list of specific priorities, and satisfaction or importance of each statement. The results indicate that the community priorities are favorable to maintaining police response to crimes, maintaining public infrastructure with primary interest in streets and roads, and continued support for creating jobs through economic development and attracting business to Vallejo.

Local Government

Ultimately, the survey was able to establish a baseline for the City, with 88 percent of respondents rating Vallejo City government as excellent, good, or fair, and quality of services with the same scale as 65 percent.  Even with concerns over crime and safety, streets and infrastructure, and lack of economic development, 68 percent of residents are proud to live in Vallejo, and only 30 percent feel the amount people pay in local taxes is a serious problem.  When asked a list of words that describes Vallejo well, respondents shared the following: 97 percent 'good weather', 91 percent 'diverse', 84 percent 'great location and 'you can be yourself'.

Crimes and Police Response

Respondents were asked about serious problems in Vallejo, of which 76 percent believe crime, gangs, and drugs are a serious problem, with another 28 percent responding to an open, unsolicited question that crime is the most serious problem, nearly triple than that of the next highest problem.  When asked about the level of importance for certain City service, providing police services and enforcing traffic laws to protect safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers ranked at 93 percent and 76 percent respectively as extremely, very or somewhat important.  Additionally, 73 percent of residents agree that maintaining public safety services in Vallejo should be a top priority, even if it means raising taxes, though 60 percent rate Police Department services as fair or poor.  When asked a list of words to describe Vallejo, 59 percent responded that 'unsafe' describes Vallejo well.

Public Infrastructure

Residents had an overwhelming response to questions related to infrastructure, with extra emphasis on streets and roads.  Of respondents, 71 percent are dissatisfied with the City's paving and repair of streets and roads with 62 percent reporting the condition to be poor or extremely poor.  Of City buildings, 22 percent believe the police station is in excellent or good condition, and 29 percent believe the underground water infrastructure is in excellent or good condition. Respondents were asked about the level of important of City services, of which 87 percent believe paving and repairing streets and roads is extremely, very or somewhat important, with a total of 85 percent believing there is great or some need for additional funds to upgrade public infrastructure and facilities.

Economic Development

Survey respondents shared concern about the state of jobs and the local economy, with 60 percent identifying it as an extreme, very or somewhat serious problem.  89 percent of residents went on to rate the attraction of new employers and jobs to the City as extremely, very or somewhat important and 60 percent are dissatisfied with the City's level of service in attracting new employers and jobs.  Furthermore, 86 percent of respondents believe it is important to prevent illegal dumping with 64 percent dissatisfied with the City service in this area.  Finally, 60 percent believe there is too little growth and development and that is it a serious problem.   When asked a list of words to describe Vallejo, 70 percent responded that 'affordable' describes Vallejo well.

Next Steps

Staff recommends a bi-annual community survey be deployed to a representative cross-section of the community to re-calibrate and continue to assess community perception on important City issues.