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April 28, 2017
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Jud Snyder
Community Survey–a few answers but lots of questions
April 14, 2017

NOBODY ASKED ME BUT…if you’re wired into the Internet you know the City of Rohnert Park did a Community Survey and printed the results. City Manager, Darrin Jenkins picked out one of the topics and used it as a focal point to get residents in line for his survey: “Would you say that things in the City of Rohnert Park are generally headed in the right direction or are they on the wrong track?” Jenkins then said, “respondents who responded overwhelmingly feel the city is going in the right direction for he got 2,190 responses with 70 percent saying it’s going in the right direction. This is eight percent points higher than last year.”

There’s nothing wrong with picking out one topic and making a sales point as Jenkins did. After all, it’s part of his job to sell the city to curious Internet visitors. In fact, 82 percent of the responses came from RP’s face book or e-mail outlets. So the city’s wired in so tight that newspapers like The Community Voice and possibly the Press Democrat got only seven percent of the sources for credit. That’s cool. At least we know who the enemy is we’re up against and we can shape our feature stories and op-ed columns to counter them.

 

I’M SURE QUITE A FEW people are asking whatever happened to that community survey they asked me a while back? So as a service to the community, let’s summarize some of the major items. The city’s shaped into sections and the biggest section is M with 14 units followed by C, D, G, B and H with about 10 units each. A section has only 7 units. How many years have you lived in Rohnert Park? Zero to 10 years is the biggest at 30 units closely followed by 11 to 28, 21 to 38 and more than 28 units with each about 25 points.

When asked how they wanted to receive information about the city, e-mail and face book were tops. When it came to newspapers, the Community Voice News got a 29 percent count while Press Democrat got only a 22 percent tally. Interesting note came from “Please describe your voting pattern.” Seventy-five percent said they voted in every election and 17 percent said they voted in most elections. When asked how many children are living with them, 61 percent said no children and 39 percent said some children. Repeating the figures Jenkins used, they were 79 percent somewhat favorable and 30 percent somewhat unfavorable. 

A question was asked, “Do you feel a sense of community in RP?” This received a mixed response for 62 percent voted yes and 38 percent voted no. This is a percentage that should come under the attention of the city council.  It was divided evenly with the question, “How do you describe your rating of the traffic flow on major streets?”  drew a 39 percent good and 37 percent fair along with a 21 percent poor. This ties in with “Describe your rating of the overall pavement condition of city streets.” 32 percent said good, 40 percent said fair and 25 percent said poor. Both of these facts are no doubt well  known to John MacArthur, Public Works Director.

People were asked “In your neighborhood are rundown buildings, weeds or junk vehicles a problem? Sixty-nine percent said not much of a problem, 24 percent said yes, but it’s a minor problem and seven percent said yes, it’s a major problem. Then, Do you feel safe in your neighborhood came out overwhelmingly yes during the day but a bit less at night. Safety along creek paths at night had the worst marks with 56 percent feeling very unsafe on creek paths. 

 

SURVEY QUESTIONS THEN turned to the Dept. of Public Safety, asking “overall impression” of police with 92 percent giving very or somewhat favorable responses. This is expected because when asked if they’ve interacted with local police, 45 percent yes and 55 percent said no. This is a pretty high interaction rate and you can’t credit it alone to the police and fire department combination. 

Rohnert Park’s DPS gets the majority of the city budget every year and city council members are well aware of this and all other decisions have to await their turn at the municipal tax spigot. It’s not a unique situation for many other California cities are the same. Only now they have the added load of legal marijuana growing added to their daily memos.

City parks and both the Community and Callinan Sports centers got high marks. What surprised me were figures on Spreckels Performing Arts Center. Asked about attending Spreckels Theater in the last 12 months 77 percent said no and only 23 percent said yes. This can be blamed, once again, on the Internet that has created its own upside down, inside out and loosely connected worlds except for Facebook and google. This city has the best public theater from the Golden Gate bridge to the Oregon border but at home it’s practically ignored. Perhaps the world of live stage performances has outlived its glory days and nostalgia’s not selling any more.

 

OF COURSE, ANY COMMUNITY Survey asks, “OK. So what does it prove?” Well, no one’s asking for proof of anything, but it does provide an opening to ask what’s the difference between 1957 when the first family moved into their A section home and the year 2017?” 

Today, the city’s neatly divided north and south by the 101 freeway, Stony Point Road and Petaluma Blvd. It’s not so neatly divided east and west by maybe Gravenstein Highway (mainly it belongs to Cotati), Rohnert Park Expressway east and west, Golf Course Drive West and East and Millbrae Ave.

After many years of column writing under publishers like Paul Golis, Lyle Amlin, many others and now the Shah family I can say the RP of 1957 has the same descriptive adjectives like bedroom town linked to the freeway and let me and the family do what we want to do with our chunk of the city. Very little has changed. Hand me that shovel and let me and try to penetrate this stubborn adobe turf.