Most Burien Residents Say City Headed in Right Direction but Safety Is a Concern

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by Ralph Nichols

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.

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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.

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7 Responses to “Most Burien Residents Say City Headed in Right Direction but Safety Is a Concern”
  1. Fred says:

    Opps Ralph,
    You goofed again. The public perception that Burien is heading in the right direction (good or excellent rating) declined by 7%. In the world of stats this is a significant decline on this small of a number of people sampled. This is the lowest rating that citizens have given the city since 2008. Mr. Martin failed to include that fact in his report.

    Also, yours and Mr. Martin’s numbers report on the 2 annexations questions is wrong. Combing the 2 annexation questions, the citizens reported a 9% concern on annexation. But again this is funny stats reporting because they were not stand alone questions. Citizens were supposed to rank the most important concerns in the city to the least important out of 100%. Of Course police protection/crime and economic development are always going to rank higher than annexation. However, annexation was ranked as much of a concern as education. Again another funny math stats by Mike Martin on a survey that was poorly constructed and presented on. The methodology for the survey was missing and the questions were not even shown at the council presentation.

  2. Ghost of Maewild says:

    “Out there in city land it’s just not resonating,” Martin observed.

    “City land” say what????

  3. Skeptical says:

    The city paid a company for this survey, so of course they are going to get positive results. All the banks that collapsed, and had to be rescued by taxpayers, we’re rated AAA until the day they folded. Ratings agencies and pollsters won’t stay in business if they don’t keep their customers satisfied. At any rate, the reported results of this survey don’t match the shoddy performance of local government as it has been reported in the press.

  4. John Poitras says:

    If people understood that the city is currently running a deficit and annexation will bankrupt the city they would have answered the survey a little differently.. As long as Mr Martin was spending my tax money doing a survey why did they NOT ask the most important question of the day.. DO YOU SUPPORT ANNEXATION OR NOT!

    I think the fact that this question was NOT asked is indicative of what this survey did NOT say rather than what it did.

  5. Jerry James says:

    The problem with this survey is that it came out positive for the City of Burien and the same group of people who are always negative hate that. “The Berk Report has to be flawed”. Aren’t you tires of hearing that one. The truth is, these negative people are in the minority and they can’t stand it. When you get north of Seahurst Park and east of Ambaum, most people don’t care about annexation. Burien is in a lot better shape financially than most cities but if you listen to the negative people on this blog, you would not believe it. The right questions were asked and the answers are now public .
    Complain all you want and attack me all you want (bring it on John) but the bottom line is the public has spoken and they like our city.

  6. Fred says:

    To Ralph-
    What I find even stranger about this study/ report that Mike Martin just gave-the subject of this blog article -is that its results don’t match up with the report Martin just gave in April,2012 of this year. In the April survey, only 57% of the citizens felt the city was headed in the right direction. Same survey contractor did the work on both surveys and there is a 9% spread difference. Try to explain that one away. Also annexation scored as one of the top 4 items that citizens were concerned about. Again it was one of those phony scoring/ranking out of 100% structured things. If Mike Martin had the money to run 2 surveys between Jan. and June of this year, why couldn’t he have run a real survey on how citizens felt about annexation? It is clear he didn’t really want to know.
    Shame on the Council for allowing him to get away with this. Martin’s surveys are like a bunch of cooked books.

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