Actual and imagined questions from a phone survey about the City of Oakland

15 Jul

A few weeks I got a call from the ETC Institute, and the woman on the phone asked if she could ask me a few questions about Oakland. Obviously I said yes but I wanted to know who the survey was being conducted for. At first she had mentioned that the study was for the state, which I thought was odd, but I probed more and she said it was for the City of Oakland. I couldn’t get anymore information out of her about what the data was being used for, so we started the survey.

None of the questions surprised me, though it was fascinating listening to and thinking about these questions during the heat of the budget negotiations. I wondered how councilmembers would answer these questions.

Here is the full list of questions I was asked. They’re of course paraphrased, though I was frenetically typing throughout the call so I think I captured the meaning of all of the questions. I’ve grouped them for easier digestion (I know, not all of the groupings are perfect), but they were not grouped for me on the phone. All of the questions were asked in succession.

Streets & Sidewalks

  • How would you rate the cleanliness of the sidewalks?
  • Cleanliness of the streets?
  • Quality of the pavement?
  • Quality of the lighting?
  • Quality of the signs/signals?
  • How safe do you feel walking in your neighborhood? In other neighborhoods?
Parks & Recreation
  • How many times have you visited parks in the past year?
  • How would you rate the quality of the grounds?
  • Quality of athletic fields?
  • Quality of golf courses?
  • Availability of walking/biking trails?
  • How would you rate the collection of books and tapes?
  • Online library services?
  • Assistance of library staff?
  • Condition of main library?
  • Condition of your neighborhood branch?
  • Overall rating of libraries?
  • How often do you ride transit?
  • How would you rate the timeliness?
  • Cleanliness?
  • Fares?
  • Safety?
  • Communication to passengers from the agency?
  • Courtesy of drivers?
Computers & Internet
  • Do you have a household computer?
  • Access internet?
  • What kind of internet?
  • How often do you use the internet?
  • Do you use social networking?
  • Do you share or download videos?
City Staff
  • How likely are you to move out of Oakland in the next three years?
  • How good is the service from Oakland?
  • Did you contact City Hall employees in the past year?
  • How easy it is to contact city employees?
  • How would you rate their courtesy?
  • How well were your questions answered?
  • How would you rate the overall quality of city employees?

Many of these questions were easy to answer, but some were very difficult, particularly the questions about city staff. Some staff I’ve interacted with have been truly incredible and have gone out of their way to be helpful. Other city staff have been entirely unresponsive. So it seemed unfair to group them all together in one rating.

The question that was easiest for me to answer was the question about how likely I am to move out of Oakland in the next three years. I said I absolutely, definitely would not move. The woman on the phone responded, “So very unlikely?”

“No,” I said. “Definitely not moving, as in there’s no chance I would move out of Oakland.”

Sadly, that wasn’t an option.

The survey got me thinking about what questions I would ask if I was designing a survey to inform the City of Oakland. I would add a question about the main mode of transportation people use to get around Oakland. I’d also ask some questions about Oakland businesses.

If you got to design a survey for the City of Oakland, what would you ask?


4 Responses to “Actual and imagined questions from a phone survey about the City of Oakland”

  1. Camille July 15, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Crime? Jobs? City hall transparency and accountability?

  2. Navigator July 17, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    After returning from a trip to Austin and San Antonio in Texas I can tell you that Oakland is a jewel and great place to live compared to these cities. Oakland has the best climate in the nation, beautiful and interesting topography, walkable neighborhoods with interesting shopping areas, great restaurants, wonderful theaters along with so many other advantages. These Texas cities maybe popular for businesses because of lower taxes but the quality of life and the suburban layouts with virtually no public transportation along with the oppressive heat make the quality of life in these cities unbearable. Oakland should be a boom town based on its beauty and natural advantages. Lower taxes down make up for the disadvantages these suburban, sprawling, and uninteresting dry places face compared to Oakland. Based on the reality I experienced these towns in Texas must have the best marketing in the world to draw businesses and residents to these foresaken environments.

  3. Casey July 19, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Good to know the City is getting quality feedback on its golf courses.

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) July 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

      Hah! My hope was maybe that question was there to inform their consideration of selling one of the golf courses.

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