Burien residents happy with city--just not as happy as before

Two-thirds of Burien residents think the city is headed in the right direction, according to the results of a community assessment survey presented at the Aug. 27 City Council meeting.

However, that is a slight decrease from 2010 when 72 percent said Burien was on the right path. The figure was 74 percent in 2008.

According to the survey-takers, the slight downtick may be a spillover from dissatisfaction with national and state events, according to City Manager Mike Martin. He noted that 2012 is a presidential election year.

The Burien survey is taken every two years to gauge how residents feel about the general quality of life in Burien and city services. Four hundred scientifically selected residents were surveyed on the phone.

The survey indicated that a majority of people feel safe in downtown Burien and in their neighborhoods, especially during the day. More women felt unsafe in the 2012 survey, compared with 2010 and 2008.

Surprisingly the top reason (25 percent) survey participants gave for living in Burien is they have lived here their whole life or since childhood. Affordable living was cited by 15 percent.

Two other often cited advantages were further down on the list. Only four percent mentioned proximity to Seattle and three percent said closeness to Sea-Tac Airport.

Public safety is a high priority for residents with 44 percent of the respondents saying it is the top issue the city should address, even over the economy.

Thirty percent said reducing crime is the most important issue facing Burien and another 14 percent said lack of police presence or enforcement. Lack of economic or commercial growth was cited by 19 percent, 11 percent named maintaining roads and 9 percent said improving education and schools.

When given a chance to allocate money among five areas, participants chose to give 33 percent of the city budget to police. Martin noted the city allocates 56 percent of its funds for public safety.

Sixty-two percent of residents are satisfied with Burien police and 81 percent viewed then as courteous.

Seventy-six percent are satisfied overall with the quality of city services. That was similar to the results from the past two surveys.

The survey noted that almost all residents have visited a park with 72 percent satisfied with Burien’s parks, facilities and recreation programs. However, many participants did not know enough about specific programs to rate them. Seventy-six percent are satisfied with the maintenance of the parks.

Burien staffers were happy with the survey results concerning the quality of Burien roads. Fifty-one percent were satisfied with the roads, a large improvement over the 31 percent who expressed satisfaction in 2008.

The majority still felt the city does not have enough sidewalks or walking paths, Martin reported.

A majority still believes Burien officials are doing enough to encourage economic growth but those who strongly believe it is down to 17 percent from 35 percent in 2008.

Although the Burien CARES animal control program has sparked controversy, 38 percent of the survey respondents said they are neutral on the subject. Animal control services had been used by 27 percent.

In what Martin termed “an emerging issue for Burien” the survey said residents are more likely to think relationships between different races and cultures in the city are good. About 30 percent said relationships are lukewarm.

Fifty-seven percent cited “everyone gets along” as the top reason for good relationships between races.

However, “lack of unity between groups” was the reason most cited for those who were negative about the relationships. Martin reported that feeling was particularly strong among Hispanic residents who participated in the survey.

“By far and away” the top source for Burien information is the local newspaper/Highline Times, Martin reported. Thirty-one percent identified the local newspaper/Highline Times as their information source.

The Burien City Newsletter was the second biggest source at 25 percent. That was down from 50 percent in 2008.

Blogs were named by 10 percent.

Sixty percent said they receive enough information about Burien but 35 percent said they do not get enough information.

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