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Thread: Community Quality of Life Surveys

  1. #1
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Community Quality of Life Surveys

    One of the communities in my service area wants a quality of life survey performed as a pre cursor to a revamp of their comp plan. I provided them a draft/sample survey based on some of my limited experience working in other communities. They liked the product, but wanted to see other examples. So would I.

    So far in my searching I have found a few posted on the net. I have been very impressed with the work of planners in Australia and New Zeeland. They must have a legal mandate to conduct a survey periodically.

    What I am asking is; could you post an example of some community surveys you have worked on?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Hey El Guapo! Maybe this will help. Thanks El Guapo.

    I was overwhelmed by the huge rush of assistance to be found here.

    Perhaps I asked a question that had been asked too many times before?

    Perhaps people don’t like to post their work product? Are they afraid of the needlepointers on the board?

    Perhaps it was my large and handsome sombrero that offended so many? It would not be the first time!

    Alas, don't fret my fine citizens of Santa Poco - I have found a few example surveys in my quest despite the response found here. Some of them are actually quite good. And seeing as this is now a bartering society due to the dot com bust - I'll show you mine if you show me yours! So if you are also looking for fine quality example citizen satisfaction surveys - send me an email and we will swap.

    P.S. Can anyone tell me what improvements were made to the original publication that are now found in the Second Edition of ICMA’s Special Report – Citizen Surveys – How to do them, How to use them, What they mean. By Thomas I. and Michelle A. Miller, ISBN 0-87326-920-9? I’d be curious to know before shelling out $65.00.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    El Guapo why are you talking to your self?

    Citizens of Santa Poco a nice lady has recommended the following:

    "I would recommend a rather expensive book.”The Total Design Method: Telephone and Mail Surveys" by Don Dillman. It's a wonderful little book that tells you how to write letters to get a better response. How many questions and pages you can use before it seems overwhelming to people and if you have enough time to do multiple mailings how to get responses of 75% and better. I've used it with great success."

    And yes, citizens, I am slowly receiving responses from other planners that I am quite willing to share once I get a chance to collate the results. All authors will receive due credit.

    I thank you once again, kind planner lady.

    El Guapo


    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...926495-2084639

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Hey El Guapo, any luck????

    I am now in the same boat and am looking for pre-planning strategy review surveys. Did you come up with any really good/interesting ones? Do you have URLs for any?

    How did your survey go?

    Jane

  5. #5
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    A cautionary tale!

    First a note. A municipality in our service area directly requested our assistance on the project. This was my first survey on my own as the head planner dude. I had helped with a few others in this past. This is what I did and how it turned out:

    1. I got a copy of the book Total Design Method (second edition) through inter-library loan because we couldn't afford it.

    2. I read the damn thing cover to cover. Not my cup o' tea - but it was very informative none the less.

    3. The internet was strangely useless. I did find that the Aussies must require them because they referenced similar surveys all the time. I called quite a few cities that were our size and in the Midwest to find what their planners had done in similar situations. All were gracious – Especially Springfield, MO. Thanks! Then, I prepared a list of recommended questions and a proposed schedule to follow.

    4. I presented this to the governing body. I explained why I was proposing to ask the kinds of questions I had placed on the survey.

    5. Here is where I messed up. I thought that the governing body would use some judgment. I let them meet and re-work the survey with out my assistance thinking that they would flesh out the "Local Character and Perspective" component that I as an outsider wouldn't be able to offer in more relaxed atmosphere.

    That was a mistake. The secretary, janitor, street sweeper or somebody, got the survey and threw out questions that would determine characteristics of the respondents as being too “nosy” and introduced questions loaded with bias and some that were outright hostile.

    6. So the lesson is attending all development meetings and keep the drafts and all electronic copies to yourself and under your control. It is much harder to fight a retrograde operation to remove a question once “Shirelene” has typed it in. Also they can get pissy when you edit for clarity and grammar.

    7. Check, Check & Check for errors. Have someone really retentive go over the survey. Give out a pre-test to picky people. They will spot the errors.

    Have the community game plan how they will distribute the survey. It is amazing the number of details that never occurred to them as you force them to assign responsibility for every aspect from printing, distributing, collecting, tabulating, analysis, and finally implementation of the knowledge gained from the exercise. We had a mock distribution exercise. It paid off handsomely on the day of actual distribution.

    I enjoyed the process and felt my city was well served. I think I would do many things different and I’ll be better able to explain it to the next city or this one again in ten years.

    I hope this helps. I can also email you copies of the survey and game plan.

  6. #6
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Re: A cautionary tale!

    El Guapo wrote:
    I hope this helps. I can also email you copies of the survey and game plan.


    Hey, El Guapo... Could you send me that stuff to planning@fairfieldcityhall.com? We will probably be doing something like that sometime soon.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Great advice! While I've had some experience with surveys, it was in a different community a few years ago. No files to send.

    We sent our survey out with the quarterly water billing to 1) save costs, and 2) give people a reason to open the envelope. It must have worked. We reached an almost 60% response rate. They could mail it back in a stamped return envelope, or drop it off at any public building.

    I also found it helpful to encourage people to write comments on the survey or a separate piece of paper. Some were good.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Giff Baby?

    We are talking near two megs. You Ok with that? That will choke a 56k modem.

  9. #9
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Re: Giff Baby?

    El Guapo wrote:
    We are talking near two megs. You Ok with that? That will choke a 56k modem.
    My 384k DSL laughs at 2megs Ha!

  10. #10
          Downtown's avatar
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    We're also gearing up for our first comp plan, thanks Jefe for some direction on reading material. However, I do believe that our plan will be elected official driven, instead of the unwashed masses, I mean, public citizenry, driven.

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