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Residents say they're happier with transportation system, but still stressed over housing

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Wilsonville Public Library, which has many programs like storytime, was one of the highest rated aspects of the Wilsonville community.

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilsonville residents continue to feel content with the city they call home, according to recent survey results.

The National Research Center conducts a scientific research study to document Wilsonville citizens' assessment of various aspects of their town every two years. This year's survey was mailed to 1,700 residents and had 471 respondents. The organization also collected an additional 149 responses through social media outreach.

As in the previous four iterations of the study, Wilsonville residents gave their city high marks.

In terms of the overall quality of life in Wilsonville, 91% of respondents rated the city as either excellent or good and that number jumped to 95% in terms of Wilsonville as a place to live.

The survey was conducted at the beginning of the pandemic (April and May), yet 85% of respondents said the overall health of the Wilsonville economy was either excellent or good. That number is the highest the city has received since the question was first posed to residents in 2014.

In comparing survey results with 2018, residents provided higher ratings in 18 categories, similar ratings for 86 categories and lower ratings in just eight fields. Notably, while citizens have been generally dissatisfied with the city's transportation network — at least in comparison to other aspects — due to traffic concerns, results were more favorable this year.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents said the transportation system locally was either excellent or good, the rating for ease-of-travel by car went up from 57% to 70%, and traffic flow on major streets jumped from 38% to 49%. Also, 31% of respondents said addressing traffic and transportation should be the city's biggest priority moving forward compared to 41% in 2018.

"That's encouraging that some people are seeing the progress in one area and turning their attention to other areas," said Communications and Marketing Manager Bill Evans during a Wilsonville City Council meeting Monday, July 20.

On the negative end, just 13% of respondents said the local economy will have a positive impact on income (down from 35% in 2018) and only half of residents said they aren't experiencing housing cost stress (down from 59% in 2018).

"It seems to me it's very likely that both of those were significantly affected by the COVID environment we're in," Mayor Tim Knapp said during the meeting.

Wilsonville residents also were generally satisfied with the overall appearance of the town, though the percentage dropped from 92% to 85% from 2018.

Despite the positive survey results, Wilsonville City Councilor Joann Linville noted possible flaws in the survey during the meeting. She said that responses weren't proportional across different socioeconomic groups in town. For instance, higher income homeowners were overrepresented.

"It doesn't negate the responses," she said. "We just need to understand that that's the context."

However, the National Research Center gives the responses of underrepresented groups like renters more weight.

Also, according to survey results, Wilsonville citizens continue to be less confident in their government than they were in the middle of the decade. The excellent or good ratings in this category amounted to 70% in 2014, 61% in 2016, 64% in 2018 and 61% in 2020. Meanwhile, just 35% of residents were happy with the quality of services provided by the federal government

On the other hand, the city's parks, libraries and schools received near universal satisfaction, earning percentages of 90%, 94% and 90% respectively.

To view the results in their entirety, visit ci.wilsonville.or.us/residents/page/2020-community-survey.


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