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Thread: Comp plan image preference survey

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Comp plan image preference survey

    I am working on creating an image preference survey to compliment efforts to update a county's comprehensive plan. I have accumulated many local examples of the following topic areas. Does anyone have any others suggestions to offer that will help to make sure it is inclusive of various development types/scenarios? Each of the topic areas will have numerous pictures with a range of response from -3 (hate it) to +3 (love it).

    Residential
    Traditional suburban
    Conservation subdivision
    Traditional neighborhood development
    New urbanism syle single-family
    Medium density (modern & traditional neighborhood)
    High density (modern & traditional neighborhood)
    Mixed-use

    Commercial
    Town center
    Mall
    Suburban highway (with and without varying levels of amenities)
    Regional activity center
    Neighborhood shoping node
    Mixed-use

    Office
    Regional activity center
    Town center
    Mixed-use
    Office park

    Streetscape
    Rural/Suburban/Urban street types
    Residential (numerous examples and scenarios)
    Commercial (numerous examples and scenarios)
    Town center
    Streets with a lack of amenities

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian chasqui's avatar
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    Outside examples

    Quote Originally posted by Plan-it
    I am working on creating an image preference survey ...suggestions to offer that will help to make sure it is inclusive of various development types/scenarios?
    I would also include examples of development that you currently do not have (or much of) in the area. Using examples from outside may open up the discussion as to why (or why not) that type of development is suitable/desirable or not.

    Also, you might want to include public/semi-public areas which can occur within your commercial / office headings or in the public/institutional arena. These areas include plazas, fountains, etc, where people can congregate.

    Personally I like visual preference surveys because of the level of participation and "warm and fuzzy" feeling they generate. They get people thinking about the development they like, and different possibilities for their community. A VPS lets people feel they have contributed to the comprehensive planning process (and the plan gets adopted!). I would be careful, however with how much stock you place in the results.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Thanks for the input. I agree with your comments. You are right that we are using this process more for the public participation/relations aspect of this more than the cold hard number crunching. There will be some analysis of the data collected, but I am sure that we will not be able to get the 60,000 people needed to make this a statistically significant sample.

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    That sounds like a LOT of territory to cover. As a part of a corridor plan I'm writing, I conducted an image preference survey, but limited it suburban-style commercial development. I displayed 64 images total -- 16 slides with four images -- giving participants a minute to score the images. Many of the images came from the Cyburbia Gallery - that's what it's there for!

    Try to avoid the words "visual preference survey". The term is trademarked.

    (Disclaimer: the images are very compressed on the attached .pdf.)
    Attached Files Attached Files

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Looks good, but may be long depending on your audience. We also tend to cover:

    -Parking
    -Buffering
    -Signs

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    I would caution you against using local examples. By using local examples, you may risk offending property owners and also may end up with results that reflect opinions on particular businesses or property owners rather than more general opinions on development patterns.

    I agree with you that this should be more of an exercise in public participation than a scientific study. Of course the sample size will be small, but also the results won't show much other than that people like pretty development and don't like big expanses of pavement and ugly signs!

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    I displayed 64 images total -- 16 slides with four images -- giving participants a minute to score the images. Many of the images came from the Cyburbia Gallery - that's what it's there for!
    Very interesting to see how some of my NH examples scored.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssc
    I would caution you against using local examples. By using local examples, you may risk offending property owners and also may end up with results that reflect opinions on particular businesses or property owners rather than more general opinions on development patterns.
    I thought about this when I started putting it together. I decided to use both local and national examples. The reason is so that people can see the good and bad within the community and get ideas from outside the region. People can go, hey you are right there, there are no sidewalks on Cherrypicker Lane and it intersects with the neighborhood node not 1/4 mile down the street, etc.

    Thanks for your input!

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    The guy who trademarked the Visual Preference Survey is a Rutgers urban planning professor. His name is Anton Nelessen. I did an internship at his consulting firm and took his urban design class.

    My main task during the internship was sorting through thousands of photographs in slide format and organizing them by design element. I would put a photo of, say, a door in a file called "door" then put a photo of a sidewalk in the sidewalk file. Each photo had a number on it, like 3.72, that reflected the photo's average score from all the Visual Preference Surveys.

    During the urban design classes, we watched slide shows of design elements and tried to guess the survey results generated by the photographs.

    Anyway, the results were always so obvious: a picket fence in front of a Victorian mansion would score higher than a guard rail in front of a housing project.

    The problem with these surveys is the results are hard to write into binding regulations. More importantly, things that score highly are not financially feasible very often, while the uglier things are more cost effective. Simple financial feasibility is why ugly things like Wal-mart shopping centers get built but traditional downtowns don't.

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ssc
    I would caution you against using local examples. By using local examples, you may risk offending property owners and also may end up with results that reflect opinions on particular businesses or property owners rather than more general opinions on development patterns.
    I used local examples, and considered the risk of offending property owners. However, most owners of commercial property in the municipality lived outside of it. Using local examples also helped to serve as a bit of a wake-up call, that it is piossible to have higher quality development. I included examples of poor quality development in other communities, though, so it didn't look like the intent of the image preference survey was to criticize the town.

    We also conducted a wrritten survey, and did a separate tally of responses from businesspeople and residents so we could see how opinions vaiied between the two groups. Some interesting findings:

    * Businesspeople were receptive of low-end vehicle-related "town next door" uses, while residents were strongly opposed to them.
    * Businesspeople saw remaining agricultural land as undesired, while residents saw it as very desirable.
    * Businesspeople preferred strip development, while residents preferred to see development concentrated in clusters at a few major intersections.
    * Businesspeople preferred typical suburban commercial site planning (parking in front, building in the rear), while residents preferred a hybrid form (some parking in front, most on the side).

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Do any of you calculate the standard deviation for each image? It can be helpful to determine the concensus on the image.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Do any of you calculate the standard deviation for each image? It can be helpful to determine the concensus on the image.
    I was planning on doing that. It provides you with an idea of the range of the responses as much as the central tendency of the responses. Good point Chet!

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