Any Boisean who has ever complained about our traffic congestion in the presence of someone from cities like Seattle, Portland or Los Angeles knows that our gridlock is usually viewed as laughable. However, according to a new survey of Boise residents, we aren't willing to let go of our commuting self-pity.
The survey of 507 heads of local households was commissioned by the City of Boise and conducted by the Northwest Research Group between March 29 and April 17. In telephone interviews, residents from five regions of the city were asked to rate the city's overall quality of life, what issues are important to residents, and how well the city is addressing those issues.
More than 90 percent of Boiseans, the poll showed, rate the city's overall quality of life as either "good" or "excellent." And while growth management and the availability of well-paying jobs were not surprisingly seen as major concerns, more Boiseans cited traffic congestion as a "major issue" than cited the quality of public schools-and many felt traffic was being handled "poorly." Other major issues which received "poor" ratings included public transportation (in which our city received ratings far below those in other cities nationwide) and the availability of alcohol and drug treament programs.
Regionally, citizens from the Bench area were the most likely to be satisfied with city services like police, fire, garbage and animal control-and not surprisingly, they overwhelmingly want to keep taxes and services "where they are." Residents of Northwest Boise were the least satisfied, particularly with the availability of parks and recreation and library services. To address those library concerns, 40 percent of residents would be willing to pay more taxes, while 20 percent would "not at all" be willing to pay.
And in a pair of final bizarre contradictions, the same county which recently refused to vote for an emergency levy for emergency medical services overwhelmingly said that public safety should be the most important budget concern for the next two years. Likwise, while nearly half of Boiseans polled said that neighborhood police officers were "the one thing they couldn't live without," very few residents said they were willing to pay for those services. Make up your minds, people!
To view both the 37-page executive summary, and the epic 215-page full report, visit www.cityofboise.org/mayor/index.aspx?id=strategic_plan.