Basic services, environment revealed as priorities in Oberlin surveys


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



KEY QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES

What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the city of Oberlin?

• 11 percent said finances

• 3 percent said racial relations and diversity

• 2.4 percent said town-gown (college and city) relations

• 2.1 percent said social justice issues

How do you feel Oberlin taxes compare to similar cities?

• 61 percent said they are higher

• 24 percent said they are about the same

• 3 percent said they are lower

• 12 percent said they are unsure

How would you rate the quality of city services provided by Oberlin?

• 20 percent said very good

• 52 percent said good

• 18 percent were neutral

• 6 percent said poor

• 1 percent said very poor

• 3 percent were unsure

How would you rate the condition of the city streets?

• 5 percent said very good

• 36 percent said good

• 22 percent were neutral

• 24 percent said poor

• 2 percent said very poor

• 8 percent were unsure

How important to you are the city’s environmental sustainability efforts?

• 43 percent said very important

• 32 percent said somewhat important

• 12 percent were neutral

• 7 percent said not very important

• 4 percent said not important at all

• 2 percent were unsure

What should be Oberlin city government’s top priority?

• 9 percent said environmental sustainability issues

• 18 percent said water, sewer, and electricity

• 3 percent said parks and open spaces

• 4 percent said recreation programming

• 1 percent said refuse and recycling collections

• 36 percent said safety services, including police and fire

• 10 percent said social justice issues

• 12 percent said streets and storm sewers

What should be the city’s second highest priority?

• 11 percent said energy sustainability issues

• 21 percent said water, sewer, and electricity

• 7 percent said parks and open spaces

• 3 percent said recreation programming

• 3 percent said refuse and recycling collections

• 21 percent said safety services, including police and fire

• 10 percent said social justice issues

• 15 percent said streets and storm sewers

• 8 percent were unsure

How would you rank Oberlin’s police services?

• 20 percent said very good

• 48 percent said good

• 19 percent were neutral

• 4 percent said poor

• 3 percent said very poor

• 7 percent said unsure

How would you rate Oberlin’s parks and open spaces?

• 17 percent said very good

• 56 percent said good

• 22 percent were neutral

• 3 percent said poor

• None said very poor

• 3 percent were unsure

How would you rate Oberlin’s recreational programming?

• 10 percent said very good

• 30 percent said good

• 35 percent said neutral

• 6 percent said poor

• 2 percent said very poor

• 17 percent said unsure

Oberlin has been planning to become a climate-positive community by 2050. How important is it to you that the city reach this goal?

• 41 percent said very important

• 29 percent said somewhat important

• 13 percent were neutral

• 7 percent said not very important

• 7 percent said not important at all

• 2 percent were unsure

If Oberlin offers a choice program to allow electric utility customers to donate some or all Renewable Energy Credits to a fund to help to the city become climate positive, would you participate?

• 24 percent said yes

• 18 percent said they are leaning toward donation

• 26 percent were neutral

• 7 percent said they are leaning against donation

• 24 percent said no

What do the people want?

Police and fire coverage, dependable utilities, better streets, and a clean environment top the priorities of Oberlin residents, according to the results of surveys by The Impact Group.

For six months, the consulting firm polled residents by phone, online, and in focus groups and gathered responses from 404 people. Representatives said a baseline 350 responses would provide a “very strong” picture of Oberlin residents’ views.

Who took part? The majority — 59 percent — have lived in the city more than 15 years, while another 10 percent have lived here for six to 10 years.

A little more than half were 55 or older and a third were ages 35 to 54; very few young people took part. Significantly more women answered questions than men.

As Oberlin city councilwoman Sharon Pearson pointed out, The Impact Group did not provide a breakdown of how respondents identified by race. Councilwoman Sharon Soucy added that leaders don’t want to make decisions based on feedback from only “Caucasian, reasonably wealthy, reasonably well-educated, and from a particular geographic area, because I think this is at the heart of our communication challenges.”

Phone surveys and focus groups were controlled to make sure a wide range of backgrounds were represented, consultants said.

Results did not come without criticism.

Pearson said the data shows what is important but does not reveal anything about why. For example, it’s clear that people feel policing is important but the polling does not specify whether residents want a greater police presence or feel policies should be changed.

Councilman Kelley Singleton said he was disappointed that no questions appeared at all about economic development.

And John Elder, spokesman for Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy, said the survey was “seriously flawed” with regard to questions about how Renewable Energy Credits should be used.

Elder has called for a referendum on the November ballot to determine how RECs will be used — and the Lorain County Board of Elections has certified the issue.

Many respondents said they would donate REC money to the city to help it reach its 2020 climate positive goals. Yet Elder said no provision was made on the survey to state a preference for putting the money in Oberlin’s sustainable reserve fund as required by ordinance.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

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Graph data source: The Impact Group

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Graph data source: The Impact Group

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Graph data source: The Impact Group

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Graph data source: The Impact Group

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com

KEY QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES

What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the city of Oberlin?

• 11 percent said finances

• 3 percent said racial relations and diversity

• 2.4 percent said town-gown (college and city) relations

• 2.1 percent said social justice issues

How do you feel Oberlin taxes compare to similar cities?

• 61 percent said they are higher

• 24 percent said they are about the same

• 3 percent said they are lower

• 12 percent said they are unsure

How would you rate the quality of city services provided by Oberlin?

• 20 percent said very good

• 52 percent said good

• 18 percent were neutral

• 6 percent said poor

• 1 percent said very poor

• 3 percent were unsure

How would you rate the condition of the city streets?

• 5 percent said very good

• 36 percent said good

• 22 percent were neutral

• 24 percent said poor

• 2 percent said very poor

• 8 percent were unsure

How important to you are the city’s environmental sustainability efforts?

• 43 percent said very important

• 32 percent said somewhat important

• 12 percent were neutral

• 7 percent said not very important

• 4 percent said not important at all

• 2 percent were unsure

What should be Oberlin city government’s top priority?

• 9 percent said environmental sustainability issues

• 18 percent said water, sewer, and electricity

• 3 percent said parks and open spaces

• 4 percent said recreation programming

• 1 percent said refuse and recycling collections

• 36 percent said safety services, including police and fire

• 10 percent said social justice issues

• 12 percent said streets and storm sewers

What should be the city’s second highest priority?

• 11 percent said energy sustainability issues

• 21 percent said water, sewer, and electricity

• 7 percent said parks and open spaces

• 3 percent said recreation programming

• 3 percent said refuse and recycling collections

• 21 percent said safety services, including police and fire

• 10 percent said social justice issues

• 15 percent said streets and storm sewers

• 8 percent were unsure

How would you rank Oberlin’s police services?

• 20 percent said very good

• 48 percent said good

• 19 percent were neutral

• 4 percent said poor

• 3 percent said very poor

• 7 percent said unsure

How would you rate Oberlin’s parks and open spaces?

• 17 percent said very good

• 56 percent said good

• 22 percent were neutral

• 3 percent said poor

• None said very poor

• 3 percent were unsure

How would you rate Oberlin’s recreational programming?

• 10 percent said very good

• 30 percent said good

• 35 percent said neutral

• 6 percent said poor

• 2 percent said very poor

• 17 percent said unsure

Oberlin has been planning to become a climate-positive community by 2050. How important is it to you that the city reach this goal?

• 41 percent said very important

• 29 percent said somewhat important

• 13 percent were neutral

• 7 percent said not very important

• 7 percent said not important at all

• 2 percent were unsure

If Oberlin offers a choice program to allow electric utility customers to donate some or all Renewable Energy Credits to a fund to help to the city become climate positive, would you participate?

• 24 percent said yes

• 18 percent said they are leaning toward donation

• 26 percent were neutral

• 7 percent said they are leaning against donation

• 24 percent said no

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