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July 30, 2007

Charlottesville Tomorrow releases results of public opinion research project

20070730surveycoverCharlottesville Tomorrow has completed a major non-partisan public opinion research project which included focus groups and a telephone survey to assess the views of voters related to Albemarle County’s rural countryside, community infrastructure, and satisfaction with local government leadership on these issues.

Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Survey 2007 indicates that voters in Albemarle County strongly believe the rural countryside is important to their quality of life.  Furthermore, there is strong agreement about many statements that describe how people feel about the rural countryside.

KEY FINDINGS
With respect to policy issues related to land use, infrastructure, taxation, transportation, and leadership, the survey results indicate:

  • There is strong public support for policies, like phasing or time based zoning, that would set a schedule for the rate of new development in Albemarle County’s rural areas.  77.8% of respondents indicated they would be likely or very likely to support such a policy.
  • 86.1% of respondents think the rate of new home construction in Albemarle’s rural countryside should be slower.
  • 81.4% of respondents indicated they support the use of tax dollars to purchase rural development rights if it would permanently protect the land with conservation easements.
  • 32.8% of respondents felt like local government was doing a very good or good job ensuring infrastructure was in place to support new development.  When asked about government’s efforts to have developers pay their fair share for infrastructure, 42.2% of respondents were satisfied.
  • 58.4% of respondents indicated they strongly or somewhat supported the land use taxation program.
  • 56.2% of respondents supported a modest increase in local taxes to support priority transportation projects.  When asked which tax they preferred, 54.8% of respondents offered support for either a gasoline tax or a sales tax.
  • 40% of respondents think citizens get an appropriate amount or a great deal of attention when they raise legitimate concerns about county growth, development, and transportation issues.
  • 57.2% of respondents indicated they were satisfied local government was making decisions that benefit the community as a whole.
  • 48.9% of respondents indicated satisfaction with government’s efforts to make decisions to protect the rural countryside.

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METHODOLOGY

20070730wheeler
      Charlottesville Tomorrow's Executive Director, Brian Wheeler, at the July 30, 2007 press conference

Charlottesville Tomorrow commissioned Interviewing Service of America (ISA) to conduct a telephone survey of registered voters in Albemarle County, Virginia.  Albemarle County voters were called by ISA during June 20-28, 2007 and randomly selected from a universe of 45,932 voters whose telephone numbers were identified in a phone match by Blaemire Communications.  The ISA telephone survey has a confidence rate of 95%, and a sampling error rate of ±3%.  A total of 1,045 interviews were completed with a participation rate of 27% and an incidence rate of 100%.  Respondents were asked twenty topical questions and nine demographic/qualifying questions in a survey that typically took 11 to 20 minutes to complete.  Additional information on the survey methodology can be found in the complete survey report.

Brian Wheeler

June 08, 2007

Take Albemarle's cash proffer survey

20070608survey_2 Albemarle County has made available an on-line citizen survey related to cash proffer policiesVisit the survey and share your opinion by Friday, June 15th!  The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will be reviewing the results at their June 20th work session.  Voluntary proffers are are typically offered as part of a rezoning request from a developer to the County to mitigate the impact of the development on the community.  Proffers are a very important aspect of the Biscuit Run development currently under review by Albemarle County.

In May, the Supervisors received recommendations from the Fiscal Impact Advisory Committee for the County to change its methodology related to cash proffers. On May 2nd, the Board approved some placeholder proffer amounts for different types of homes.  For example, a single family detached home will now have a cash proffer expectation of $17,500 from the developer. In recent developments, Albemarle has accepted about $3,200 as a cash proffer for each of these homes.  The County is seeking your feedback as it reviews the committee's recommendations on methodology and works them into a formal proffer policy.

For a number of reasons, the methodology developed by the committee does not address water/sewer needs or the costs of capital infrastructure not already in the County's 10-year capital budget.  With new legislation recently passed by the General Assembly, Albemarle may be able to take a broader view of the community's infrastructure needs that could be supported by cash proffers.  That issue is still under review.

Proffers have been an important issue covered in Charlottesville Tomorrow's blogs.  You can read those stories that discuss proffers from Charlottesville Tomorrow and the local mainstream media.

Brian Wheeler

December 08, 2006

Slutzky shares update on online constituent referendums

Slutzky_david_4At the December 6, 2006 meeting of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Rio District Supervisor David Slutzky shared an update on his plans to launch a website for constituent referendums. Under other business by Board members, Mr. Slutzky announced talktoyourgovernment.com would launch in early 2007 and the website allow him to conduct online referendums with Rio district voters.  All registered voters in his  district will be mailed an invitation to participate. 

Mr. Slutzky says his goal is to engage the public in an electronic village where he will share, on 3-4 occasions a year, an issue on which he wants constituent feedback.  Mr. Slutzky says that when he receives an overwhelming level of support for a position, citing an 80% level of support as an example, he suggests he will rely on that sentiment for his vote.  He encouraged his Supervisor colleagues to join as a guest on the website and offered the platform to them should they want to create their own electronic villages in the future.

Of course, you don't have to wait.  You can start talking to your government right now by using the links on our website and by adding a comment to this discussion.  What do you think about online polls by our local politicians?

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20061206-BOS-slutzky.MP3

Brian Wheeler

November 14, 2006

Slutzky to launch online constituent referendums

Slutzky_david_3On WINA's Charlottesville Live radio program this morning, Albemarle County Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio District) announced that he would be launching by January 2007 a constituent website called Talk to Your Government that would allow him to conduct online referendums.  See: http://www.talktoyourgovernment.com/

Mr. Slutzky was finishing a question called in by Crozet Resident Tom Loach about the location decision for the Crozet Library.  Mr. Loach wanted to know why the Board didn't ask for additional public comment from the Crozet residents that attended the meeting at which the decision was made.  Mr. Slutzky said he thought a good point was being raised--"How as an elected official do you accurately read the will of your constituents?"

Mt. Slutzky says the online referendums will be one tool he plans to experiment with in 2007.

"By the first of the year I plan to have the site up and running and every one of my registered voters will be asked to join the website, and when they do, I will conduct online referendum with regard to issues like [the Crozet Library decision] where I am not sure how my constituents want me to vote.  It will be a way that I can get mass feedback in an organized fashion."

Brian Wheeler

October 17, 2006

Lee Catlin reviews County survey results on WINA

On October 16, 2006, Lee Catlin, Albemarle County's Community Relations Manager, was a guest on WINA's Charlottesville Live morning radio program.  In this segment, hosts Jane Foy and Rob Schilling ask Lee Catlin about heating fuel assistance programs and the results from the County's recently published 2006 Citizen Survey.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20061016-WINA-Catlin.MP3

Highlights

  • 00:58 -- Introduction by Rob Schilling and Jane Foy
  • 02:05 -- Lee Catlin addresses heating fuel assistance programs
  • 04:22 -- Lee Catlin addresses Albemarle's 2006 Citizen Survey

In her remarks, Ms. Catlin described the survey results that show the public continues to rate the County highly when it comes to quality of life ( 8.04 on a scale of 1 to 10).  Further, she indicated that while there is some concern about the County's ability to manage growth, the strategy to channel growth into designated growth areas is receiving continued support from residents (72.6% indicating they are in favor of these efforts to direct where growth and development occurs).

Here are the survey's conclusions on growth management:

"Overall, citizens were satisfied with the job the county government is doing in maintaining the quality of life while accommodating growth and development. Approximately three-quarters (73.4%) of residents were somewhat or very satisfied, nearly the same percentage as in 2004 (70.7%)....In regards to the County’s efforts to manage growth, only about half (55.6%) were somewhat or very satisfied with the county government’s efforts. This is not significantly different from the satisfaction levels in 2004 (56.4%) but is the second lowest item in terms of satisfaction....In regards to the coded geographical areas, residents from the development areas expressed more satisfaction than residents from the rural areas."

This last statement indicating that the population in our development areas is more satisfied with the County's efforts to manage growth benefits from further analysis.  In the appendix of the survey (C-17, Page 95 of PDF-"Manage growth in the county"), there is certainly an interesting difference of opinion between rural area and development area residents, however, the geographic area cited in the report's conclusions above excludes Crozet, Hollymead/Piney Mountain, and the Village of Rivanna. Here is the data:

Satisfaction item Rural Areas Dev Areas (1-7) (i.e. urban ring) Other Growth Areas (e.g. Crozet) Overall
Manage growth in the county 50.8% satisfied 61.3% 53.2% 55.6%

Development Areas 1-7 [click for map] are all in the urban ring immediately surrounding the City of Charlottesville.  The survey separated Crozet, Hollymead, etc. into a separate group called "Other Growth Areas."  The "other growth areas" had a level of satisfaction much closer to those in the rural areas.

Charlottesville Tomorrow will continue to examine the results in the County's survey.  For example, I am hoping the County can provide a geographic breakdown of the 72.6% who indicated they are in favor of the designated growth areas.  I have not been able to find that data in the report.  I also welcome the assessments of others and hope readers will leave a comment here on the blog.

Brian Wheeler

October 13, 2006

Development Review Process Task Force survey results

Yesterday, the Albemarle County Development Review Process Task Force received a report on their recent community survey of citizens, members of the development community and County staff to collect input related to possible improvements in the county's rezoning and special use permit processes. [Links: survey questions / task force background]

While not a scientific survey, it did generate a fairly good number of responses for the brief period the survey was administered (351 citizen submissions, 30 developer submissions, and 23 staff submissions).  On the County's website you can download an executive summary as well as the verbatim comments by each constituent group.  You can see some of the themes below.

DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
When asked if the current review process works adequately, the development community's responses included the following themes: Too Time Consuming; Conflicting Goals and Priorities; Lack of Clear/Consistent Guidelines; Inappropriate Citizen Involvement; Too Much Detail Required at Early Stages.

CITIZENS
When asked if the current review process allows for adequate citizen involvement, those citizens that responded "No" offered comments with the following themes: Inadequate Public Comment Opportunities; Intimidating/Complex Process; Developers Appear to Have an Advantage; Insufficient Information on Website; Need Better Visuals/Project Materials; Inadequate Notification.

The task force will meet again in November to continue their review of the survey feedback as they finalize their recommendations for the Board of Supervisors.

Brian Wheeler

Podcast of County's 2006 Citizen Survey Results

Bos20061011aOn October 11, 2006, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors received a report on the results of their 2006 Citizen Survey [agenda item].  The UVA Center for Survey Research conducted the telephone interview of 787 County residents during June and July 2006.  This research follows up on previous surveys conducted in 2004, 2002 and 1994.  The survey goals included assessing opinions about our quality of life, evaluating the importance and satisfaction level of different County services, and evaluating public opinion on the County's growth management efforts.  The complete results of this survey are available on the Albemarle County website.

In this recording by Charlottesville Tomorrow, we begin with Chairman Dennis Rooker calling on Thomas Guterbock, Director of the UVA Center for Survey Research to make the presentation.

Podcast produced by Charlottesville Tomorrow * Player by Odeo

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20061011-BOS-Survey.mp3

Highlights of Survey Results

  • 90.6% of all respondents were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with county services.
  • Quality education for school children was identified as the most important service of the County.  This was followed by public safety and water resources.
  • Emergency rescue services received the highest satisfaction ratings for any service.
  • Residents are concerned about issues related to growth and development.  Efforts to manage growth had one of the lowest satisfaction levels.
  • Citizen input on the development process was identified as a highly important concern with currently only a medium satisfaction rating.
  • Quality of life scored 8.04 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible place to live and 1 the worst.  This is not significantly different from past surveys.
  • There were no significant decreases in satisfaction rankings from 2004 to 2006.

Brian Wheeler