2024-07-19 1:50 PM

F.C. ‘Bucks National Trend’ as Survey Shows Citizens Happy

A comprehensive opinion survey commissioned by the F.C. City Council has found the City of Falls Church is appreciated by its residents in virtually every aspect of its life. 

The president of a Newport Beach, Calif., firm that has done similar surveys for hundreds of communities across the U.S., presented the summary results of over 1,400 pages of data it compiled in its study of attitudes among Falls Church’s 14,300 residents in the last year. Adam Probolsky, president of the company that bears his name, made his findings known to the City Council as a highlight of Monday’s Council meeting.

Approval levels were extraordinarily high in many important categories of community amenities and services, he showed, based on 20 minute phone or online interviews in English, Spanish or Vietnamese with 400 City residents distributed evenly, in terms of location, over the City’s 2.1 square miles.

In fact, Probolsky said he found that in many ways, Falls Church is “bucking the national trend” by enjoying such high levels of support from its citizens, he told the Council. In recent years, he noted, citizen dissatisfaction with government has been at historically very high levels, something he said was true all  across the U.S. It was uncommon to find a community with a level of satisfaction among its residents as high as in Falls Church, he said.

Probolsky’s firm does scientifically valid surveys in jurisdictions of all sizes, some much bigger and some smaller than Falls Church, all across the country.

Although, even as the project manager for this survey and report, Probolsky had not been physically in the City himself, before coming Monday to present to the City Council and some City staff at City Hall, he told the News-Press in an interview Tuesday that he found Falls Church “a very pretty place,” underscoring the fact that the survey found citizens “feel their community is both a comfortable and comforting place.”

“There is satisfaction here across the board, and a lot of it has to do with superior knowledge of what’s going on,” he said. The survey report included data showing that most people get their information about goings on in the City from the News-Press, which is also a source of a lot of what gets passed around and classified as “word of mouth” sources. Those two sources each came in at double the level of government information sources (website, social media, etc.). 56.3 percent of those surveyed cited the News-Press as their “top source for news and information about Falls Church” along with 51 percent who cited friends, neighbors or “word of mouth.” By contrast, between 21.5 percent and 28.8 percent cited the City’s website, social media or digital Focus newsletter as their primary sources, with another 21 percent citing local TV news, 10 percent radio and 6 percent broadcast online meetings. 

Overall, Probolsky said, Falls Church “is doing just fine.”

The level of perceived “walkability” of the City stands out in evaluations of the survey results. The current City Council has been focused on that issue in recent years, making “wayfinding” signage, crosswalks, bump outs at intersections and other relatively minor, cost effective, but meaningful changes.

Overall, the key findings of the report were that 89 to 90 percent of surveyed citizens find the overall quality of life and services provided as “good,” and the respondents “satisfied.”

72 percent rate the City as “good” on its performance in building a strong community, 63 percent rate it as “good” on delivering services to its residents in a fair and equitable way, 81 percent rate it as “good” or “fair” on its efforts to solicit public input and engage residents in policy and program issues, and the report notes that “when asked to identify the three most serious challenges facing the City, residents identified the amount of taxes, congestion and street conditions.”

Managing growth and development issues is the most important issue facing the City, followed closely by housing affordability, traffic and taxes. 

But as far as rating the “overall quality of life,” a whopping 97 percent said it is “good” or “fair,” with only 2.3 percent as “poor.” Of those who said it is “good,” 53.4 percent said “excellent,” and 46.6 percent said “good.”

The results do not vary significantly, either, based on the age, gender, ethnicity, household income, education level or location of those surveyed.

Nor do they by years of residency, home type, children in home, and children in public school.

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