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Despite COVID-19, survey shows majority is generally happy with quality of life, services

A majority of Clackamas County residents have a positive view of the direction the county is headed according to a biennial survey conducted in June by DHM Research on the county's behalf. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS COUNTY - Survey results

The results of the 2020 community survey were reported to Clackamas County's Board of Commissioners last week and included several highlights that provided the county with a brief snapshot of how well it's functioning in the eyes of local residents.

Four hundred Clackamas County residents were interviewed by phone and online in June. The interviews lasted approximately 15 minutes each. According to DHM, the margin of error for the survey is 4.9%. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS COUNTY - A breakdown of the demographics of the survey conducted by DHM Research on behalf of Clackamas County.

According to the survey, positivity about the direction Clackamas County is headed is akin to previous years, despite the COVID-19 crisis. A total of 52% of respondents said they have a favorable view of the county's future — down 2% from 2018 — while 24% said they believe it's on the wrong track.

Accordingly, a majority of county residents said they believe quality of life is staying the same at 53%, but pessimism slightly outweighs optimism with 25% of respondents saying that quality of life is going down and just 17% saying they think it's getting better.

The survey also found that residents of Clackamas County love where they live because of its natural beauty and proximity to outdoor recreation. Respondents also said they value the county's sense of community, its lack of crime and safety.

"The results reiterate that county commissioners' strategic priories outlined in the Performance Clackamas plan are on point," said Dylan Blaylock, county public and goverment affairs specialsit. "Residents value the environment and outdoors, as well a sense of community and their neighbors. Those match up and honor, utilize, promote and onvest in our natural resources, and ensure safe, healthy and secure communities."

Performance Clackamas is the county's strategic plan. It features five overarching strategic priorities that county departments develop short and long-term plans around and base their budgets on. Twelve strategic goals encompassed by the priorities guide the efforts of the county's elected officials, administration and staff. The full plan can be found at www.clackamas.us/performance.

In terms of issues facing the county, 24% of respondents said they're most worried about the COVID-19 pandemic and getting back to normal. An additional 20% said that economic issues such as unemployment are most pressing, while 15% said that homelessness and poverty were key topics for the county to be focusing on.

Just 11% said road maintenance, fixing potholes and traffic congestion were priorities. Emergency services (81% responding "very valuable"), law enforcement (75%), assistance for domestic violence survivors (69%), and road maintenance (66%) are considered the most essential county services, according to the survey.

The survey also found that county residents were extremely likely to recommend living in Clackamas County to their friends or family with 90% agreeing. Another 63% said that their children are likely to enjoy at least the same standard of living as their parents, while 62% said that everyone in Clackamas County who works hard and plays by the rules has the same opportunity regardless of their race or ethnicity. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS COUNTY - Survey results

According to the survey, the largest increase in value ratings between 2018 and 2020 was in the maintenance of county parks. Just 19% of respondents said maintaining county parks was "very valuable" in 2018, whereas 52% respondents said it's "very valuable" in 2020. COURTESY PHOTO: CLACKAMAS COUNTY - Survey results

Just under half (46%) of respondents say they are at least somewhat engaged with their county government, which is up 9 percentage points from 2016. Only 8% of respondents replied "very" to their involvement in county affairs. Accordingly, one-third of residents experience barriers to attending public meetings, though some groups are more likely to experience barriers than others:

— 58% of those with incomes less than $25,000

— 55% of people of color

— 51% of those who have lived in Clackamas County for less than six years

— 47% of renters

— 44% of women

— 42% of those 18–34 years old

"The results show that more residents are getting engaged with their county government. That's what commissioners and county staff want – engaged and informed residents. We need the public to inform us about the issues they face," Blaylock said. "They also show the groups of individuals that regularly face barriers to attending public meetings, and what the reasons are. Clackamas County is dedicated to breaking down these barriers to the greatest extent possible, so that people from all walks of life, all over the county can give their opinions and feedback."

According to the survey, the county's website and social media accounts were deemed by 77% of respondents to be trustworthy. Community newspapers such as the Clackamas Review and others were rated 75% trustworthy, while radio and television news were given 68% and 58% trustworthiness ratings, respectively.


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