For Immediate Release
County survey finds most residents are content with quality of life, divided on direction
SANTA ROSA, CA | May 23, 2023
Sonoma County residents are divided about the direction the county is headed, but a majority is content with their quality of life, particularly within their own neighborhoods, according to the results of a community survey presented today to the Board of Supervisors.
The survey found 51 percent of residents believe the county is headed in the right direction, up 2 percentage points from 2021. Most residents say Sonoma County is a welcoming place to live and are excited about the future of the county. A majority also believes county government services are convenient and easy to access. Nevertheless, 47 percent say the county is on the wrong track, up 1 percentage point from 2021. Most residents are worried that homelessness, the cost of living and a housing shortage threaten the quality of life in the region.
“We conducted this survey to take the pulse of the community,” said Supervisor Chris Coursey, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “While we still have some big issues to deal with, the results show the people of Sonoma County are seeing the same problems we are, and we are determined to address those concerns.”
The telephone and online survey of 1,019 adult residents, conducted March 28 to April 7 in English and Spanish, was developed by EMC Research in partnership with county staff. The results were demographically and geographically representative of the county’s adult residents and have a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1 percent.
The most pressing issues in the community are homelessness and affordability, followed by mental health and addiction. When asked to identify “serious” and “very serious” problems facing Sonoma County, residents listed homelessness (95 percent), the cost of living (92 percent), mental health and addiction (89 percent), the danger of wildfires (87 percent), a lack of available housing for all income levels (84 percent), and the economy (79 percent) most frequently.
Most residents think the county is doing an excellent or good job on fire services (88 percent), emergency and disaster response (79 percent), parks, playgrounds and recreational areas (70 percent), preservation of natural areas (68 percent), public safety services (59 percent) and programs for seniors (52 percent). A majority of residents think the county is doing only a fair or poor job on road maintenance (82 percent), services for people experiencing a mental health crisis (78 percent) or homelessness (74 percent), and maintenance of sidewalks and walking paths (58 percent).
Other key results include:
- 85 percent are concerned about family and friends being able to find an affordable place to live in Sonoma County.
- 62 percent are concerned about finding an affordable place for themselves to live in Sonoma County.
- 68 percent are unhappy or worried about changes in Sonoma County.
- 75 percent believe the county is a place that is welcoming to people of all backgrounds.
- 56 percent are excited about the future of Sonoma County.
- 55 percent believe government services provided by the County of Sonoma are convenient and easy to use.
Results were generally consistent across demographics, with a few exceptions. White residents were more likely to say that homelessness worsened in recent years, while Hispanic or Latino residents were more likely to express concerns about affordable housing, according to a racial equity analysis of the survey. About 78 percent of Hispanic or Latino residents agreed with the statement “I am concerned about finding an affordable place to live in Sonoma County for myself,” compared to 60 percent of white residents and 64 percent of residents who are Black, Indigenous and people of color. Income inequality was a “very serious” issue for 54 percent of Hispanic or Latino residents, compared to 36 percent of their counterparts.
A PDF of the survey results can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3WxeQQE
The county plans to conduct a similar survey every two years to evaluate trends in community satisfaction and priorities. Improving community engagement and outreach is an objective in the Organizational Excellence pillar of the county’s five-year Strategic Plan, which seeks to make the county government an innovative, effective, engaged and transparent organization focused on quality programs and services.
Paul Gullixson, Communications Manager
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403