Most Burien Residents Say City Headed in Right Direction but Safety Is a Concern
A majority of Burien residents like living here and think the city is moving in the right direction.
These are among the results of the biennial Community Benchmark Survey (download PDF here, see p. 31–84), conducted by DHM Research of Portland.
The survey was submitted to city council members during their Aug. 27 study session.
Key findings of the survey include:
- Two-thirds (66 percent) think Burien is headed in the right direction, a slight decrease from 2010 (72 percent) and 2008 (74 percent).
- Residents of the western part of Burien were more likely to view their neighborhood positively than residents of eastern Burien, as are women compared to men.
- Majorities of people feel safe in downtown Burien and in their neighborhoods. Most people, particularly women, feel much safer during the day.
- Public safety is a high priority for residents, with 44 percent who said that it is the top issue for the City to address, over the economy.
- Seventy-six percent (76 percent) are satisfied with the overall quality of City services, similar to 2010 and 2008.
- About six in 10 residents (62 percent) are satisfied with the Burien Police Department. About eight in 10 residents (81 percent) view the Burien Police as courteous.
- Almost all residents have visited a park, and strong majorities are satisfied with Burien’s parks, facilities, and recreation programs (72 percent) and park maintenance (76 percent). Residents are less connected to recreation programs, particularly for kids.
- More than five in 10 residents (51percent) are satisfied with the quality of Burien’s roads, a large improvement over 2008 (31 percent). A majority do not feel there are enough sidewalks and walking paths.
However, while 61 percent said they are satisfied with the job Burien City government is doing, this is a 15 decrease from 2010.
And although 76 percent agree that the city provides quality services, the percentage of residents who said they are satisfied with city services for their tax dollars paid declined from 70 percent in 2010 to 57 percent this year.
City Manager Mike Martin said he thinks the 18-month controversy over adopting a new Burien Shoreline Management Program [SMP] may have created divisions that affected public perceptions of city government, “likewise the ongoing controversy with animal control.”
When questioned about issues facing Burien, reducing crime (30 percent) and a lack of police presence/enforcement (14 percent) made public safety the most important concern for residents, topping even concern over the local economy.
Other major issues cited are a lack of economic/commercial growth (19 percent), maintaining roads (11 percent), and improving education/schools (9 percent) as the most important issues facing Burien.
No more than 6 percent of respondents rated as important other issues noted in the survey.
Of particular interest, given the vocal opposition by some to annexation, is that only 3 percent said annexation of the White Center/North Highline area is an important issue. “Out there in city land it’s just not resonating,” Martin observed.
Twenty-two percent of those surveyed agree completely that Burien is moving in the right direction, and another 44 percent agree somewhat; 16 percent said Burien is an excellent place to live, and another 55 percent agree somewhat.
The number of women who rated the city as an excellent place to live dropped from 26 percent in 2010 to 11 percent this year – a result that Martin said he can find no explanation for.
More than three in four residents feel safe in downtown Burien, although there was an increase (18 percent compared to 11 percent in 2010) of those who feel unsafe there – more of them women.
And a majority of residents feel safe in their neighborhoods at all hours, but much safer during the day than at night.
Four hundred city residents were questioned in the scientific survey conducted July 14-18. It has a margin of error range of plus or minus 2.8 percent to 4.9 percent for each question.