NOTES TO MEMBERS: STRONG SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY GARDENS BUT OTHER SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES SOFTEN IN NEW CITIZEN SURVEY
December 10, 2011
by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
The new 2011 Arvada Citizen Survey is out and some results may affect how the Triangle and Ralston Road are developed in the coming years.
The City does the survey every two years. The last one was in 2009. This year 844 people responded to the August survey — about a third of those who were asked to fill out the lengthy forms.
Most of the time there is little change in the biennial survey results. Bread-and-butter items such as street maintenance, police, snow removal, water and sewer services consistently rate high in importance with the public. Citizens also seem pretty happy with Arvada as a place to live and how well the City is managed. But this year’s report was different in some areas, and seems to show the effects of the prolonged recession and the slow recovery.
Also, two new community sustainability questions were asked that could affect developments along Ralston Road. The first asked whether or not the City should be spending tax monies to encourage the development of community gardens — even if it meant higher costs to the taxpayer. A whopping 89% of the respondents said we should. Only 11% were opposed.
The fate of the Arvada Community Garden, located at the southeast corner of the Triangle shopping district, was a hot item for the City Council this year. A grass-roots effort to prevent the existing garden site from being used for multi-story residences failed on a split vote by the Council. However, the Council did vote to move the gardens to a nearby location if a developer wanted to use the existing site for new housing. Still, that’s not a hard guarantee. But the strong survey results look like they will make it harder for any future City Council to back away from that promise. And the results add support to the City’s current efforts to establish community gardens in other parts of the City.
The second new sustainability question didn’t do as well. It asked if the City should encourage mixed-use development (such as residential housing and businesses combined into one building) — again, even if it meant higher costs to the taxpayer. Sixty-six percent supported that view and 34% were opposed. This was the lowest rating of all the 12 sustainability items on the survey. Mixed-use development is a key element in the plans for both the Triangle and for the connecting corridor along Ralston Road into Olde Town.
The other ten sustainability initiatives on the survey trended down sharply, but they still seem to have high levels of citizen support. All took substantial hits from their 2009 levels of support, falling from 5% to 11% each. The downward trend should be a troubling indicator for advocates of sustainability. It’s unusual to see such large percentage change in the biennial surveys.
Here is an extract of survey’s report on sustainability items:
“One question on the survey asked residents whether they supported or opposed a number of community sustainability initiatives. Overall, at least two-thirds of respondents supported the 12 sustainability actions, and between 21% and 44% ‘strongly’ supported each.”
“Nine in 10 respondents supported the City encouraging community gardening or farming, which was a new item on the 2011 survey. Four out of five respondents supported the City taking the following actions: creating incentives for homeowners to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy in their own homes (86%), increasing recycling options for residents (84%), creating incentives for increased water conservation (84%), creating incentives for builders to build using environmentally friendly (“green”) construction methods (81%), and increasing alternative transit options throughout the City (79%). The least amount of support was for encouraging mixed-use development in the City (66%), also a new question in 2011.”
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
The Arvada City Council will have a study session on the survey in Council Chambers on Monday, December 12th at 5:30 pm. The session is open to the public. You can probably pick up the session on cable at KATV-8 or a through a live link on the Arvada.org homepage.
You can also read the draft survey itself in this week’s Council packet. The parts on a Sustainable Community are on pages 64 and 65. There is also an interesting scatter chart on page 37. The link to do that is
Download the file now if you are interested. These packet links usually change a week after they are posted.
And, as always, the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community will post more notes online on its website at http://www.ralstoncommunity.org/ as information becomes available.