Carlsbad residents give city high marks

Carlsbad residents give city high marks
Nearly 73 percent of Carlsbad residents agree that the beaches are one of the main reasons for living in the city. Photo by Ellen Wright

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad residents are generally pleased with the city, according to a report by BW Research Partnership, Inc., a Carlsbad-based consulting firm.

BW President Josh Williams presented his findings to City Council Jan. 20.

After conducting 20-minute phone calls with more than 1,000 residents representing Carlsbad’s demographics, the firm found that 98 percent of residents perceived the city’s quality of life as either excellent or good, according to Williams.

“I keep saying that it can’t get higher, and somehow it does,” Williams said of residents’ rating of perceived quality of life. “Really mathematically, we’re getting to a point where we can’t get much higher.”

Another rating that increased from last year was safety. Ninety-three percent of residents feel safe walking alone in their neighborhoods at night and 63 percent feel very safe, Williams said.

The rating jumped nine points from 2013, which Williams said, is likely due to emergency responders’ handling of the Poinsettia fires in May.

“The Poinsettia fire had a big impact in terms of how people felt about both public safety and local government,” Williams said.

He also said it’s difficult to measure specifically how the Poinsettia fires affected people’s perception.

“When you ask people consciously what drives their decision, it tends to change their decision,” Williams said.

The two-week long study was done in August, about three months after the fires.

The study also revealed that newer residents are more likely to give the city good marks compared to people who have lived in the city 15 years or more.

Of the residents who have been in Carlsbad 14 years or less, 71 percent were very satisfied with the city compared to 59 percent of the residents who’ve lived in Carlsbad more than 15 years.

Williams said that could likely be attributed to newer residents having a baseline city to compare to Carlsbad.

Women were more likely to give Carlsbad good marks as well, with 70 percent saying they are very satisfied with the city compared to 59 percent of men.

Another discrepancy among residents’ ranking stems from what type of home they live in.

Williams said 63 percent of respondents living in apartments rated their quality of life as excellent compared to 72 percent of residents who live in a single detached family home.

The city’s lowest marks were given on traffic congestion and the management of residential growth and development.

About one in four residents said they were “very satisfied” with the management of traffic congestion and 43 percent were satisfied.

Councilman Michael Schumacher wondered if traffic congestion was fundamentally an issue or just a result of recent construction projects throughout the city, including the desalination plant and the widening of El Camino Real.

“Personally, I think I’ve experienced the worst traffic in the last year because of (the desalination plant) but a year from now that won’t be going on,” Schumacher said.

Williams said he can’t quantify the external reason causing frustration with traffic, but he can track the overall happiness with traffic over the years.

The highest-ranking priority for residents was easily finding parking along the coast, with 62 percent ranking it as an essential priority.

One third of residents feel there should be more spending on beach and coastline improvements and walking paths and trails although Williams warned that 80 percent of residents agreed that they like Carlsbad’s coastline areas “just the way they are.”

He said it’d be easier to work on coastline projects incrementally, to continue gaining the public’s trust, rather than do a complete overhaul all at once.

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