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City Commission discussed findings at special meeting

During a special meeting of the City Commission on Thursday, May 2, Commissioners had their first opportunity to review and discuss results of the 2019 Citizen’s Survey.

In general, the survey showed that residents consider St. Augustine a good place to live and work, but that mobility remains the top priority of issues to be addressed. The survey is an important first step as the city reviews its strategic goals and begins to build next year’s budget.

The meeting may be viewed on-demand at www.CityStAugTV.com. To view the full 2019 St. Augustine Citizen Report by section, follow the links below.

  • Staff presentation for May 2 Commission special meeting.
  • Community Livability Report: overall summary of specific findings.
  • Demographic Crosstabs: discusses differences in opinion of survey respondents by age and length of residency in St. Augustine.
  • Geographic Crosstabs: discusses differences in opinion of survey respondents by five areas of the city - downtown, Anastasia Island, west of Ponce de Leon Blvd., Uptown/ Nelmar/Fullerwood, and the area north of Fullerwood.
  • Supplemental Online Results: results of on-line survey not weighted to current population estimates of St. Augustine.
  • Trends over Time: comparing the 2019 ratings with survey results in 2017 and 2016.
  • Dashboard: summarizing resident ratings across the eight facets and three pillars of a livable community.

The survey was conducted during January and February of this year by the National Citizen Survey (NCS) of Boulder, CO, a leading provider of public sector research and evaluation.

Surveys were mailed to 2,775 residents in randomly selected households of which 888 were returned and included in the calculations. Calculated separately were 221 responses submitted through an online survey available on the city’s website.

The survey captured opinions within three “pillars of a community”: community characteristics, governance, and participation. Each of those pillars are measured across eight central facets: safety, mobility, natural environment, built environment, economy, recreation and wellness, education and enrichment, and community engagement. The last such survey was conducted in 2017.

Meredith Breidenstein, Director of Budget and Performance Management, will share with the Commission an overview of the survey and its findings.

That presentation will point out five items that 75% or more respondents deemed “essential” or “very important” issues that should be addressed in the coming budget year all related to what might be termed as mobility issues:

  • Improvements to traffic flow,
  • Improvements to parking,
  • Improvements to pedestrian mobility and safety,
  • Street repairs and paving, and
  • Improvements to bicycle mobility and safety.

In addition to the standard questions used by the NSC to measure residents’ opinions in all communities, the city added some custom questions that relate specifically to the topic of mobility in St. Augustine. Ms. Breidenstein’s presentation will highlight those responses as well including:

  • 94% support traffic flow adjustments during peak hours & events.
  • 90% support increasing the use of shuttles to reduce congestion downtown.
  • 81% support the implementation of residential parking programs.
  • 78% support regulation of commercial delivery vehicle access to downtown.
  • 69% support the temporary closing of streets in high-tourist areas.
  • 45% support increasing the hours when parking is regulated.

Another topic of recent discussion in the city has been the rising popularity of vacation rentals by owners of properties. On that topic:

  • 56% do not believe vacation rentals have impacted their neighborhood.
  • 26% have seen a negative impact.
  • 17% have seen a positive impact.