In a 2021 community survey, Rochester residents shared they would like to see a wider variety of housing options in the city, which currently includes mainly single-family homes.

In a 2021 community survey, Rochester residents shared they would like to see a wider variety of housing options in the city, which currently includes mainly single-family homes.

Photo by Mary Beth Almond


Rochester residents share input via 2021 community survey

Housing stock mix tops survey results

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 27, 2021

ROCHESTER — City officials are in the process of analyzing the results of the city’s 2021 community survey.

Distributed to city residents in January, the community survey was designed to find out what’s being done right in Rochester and what needs improvement.

City officials sent out just over 5,000 surveys asking about 18 areas — topics ranging from safety and economics to education and engagement.

Approximately 1,231 completed surveys came back. Of those, 50% of respondents are younger than 60 and 60% have lived in the city for over 11 years.

“We’re glad that we, again, had a statistically significant response, with about 24% of residents responding,” Rochester City Manager Blaine Wing said. “It’s valuable information.”

The last time the city of Rochester performed a community survey was back in 2017, and, similar to this year’s survey, it was mailed to every city residence. In 2017, approximately 1,162 surveys were returned.

This year’s survey results were compared to the responses from 2017 to see how the city is doing, which Wing said will be used to help city officials measure progress from previous years, as well as to help guide decision-making processes in the city for years to come.

“Staff will be analyzing this information and using it for our upcoming strategic planning process, which staff will be preparing for this summer and into the fall, once we have completed the elections in November,” he said. “Once the council is elected, or re-elected, in November, we will be meeting with that council that’s sworn in and we’ll start working on our next round of our strategic plan for the city.”

Lauren Dedvukaj, the city’s management intern, said Rochester received good or excellent marks in numerous categories — including safety, image and reputation, quality of life, quality of parks, walkability, appearance of the downtown and more.

“We calculated our positive rankings based on the categories excellent and good. All of these sections received tremendous support from the constituents, as well as many other areas of the survey,” said Dedvukaj, who coordinated the project.

Areas that residents felt the city had room to improve included providing more public information and better communication, historic preservation, the variety of housing options, and more.

A “future funding possibilities” question — which allowed constituents to choose three approaches to balance potential budget concerns — was one new feature of the 2021 survey. The top three selections, according to the survey results, included: maintaining city services with a small tax or fee increase, which had 64.1% support; enhancing city services with a small tax or fee increase, with 49.6% support; and combining city services with other local governments, with 40.5% support. The bottom four choices included privatizing some services if taxes were to be kept the same; privatizing some services if taxes could be decreased; reducing city services to maintain the current tax and fee levels; and eliminating city services to maintain the current tax and fee levels.

The 2021 survey also allowed respondents to expand on their rating selections through written comments.

“There’s a little bit more context when people are writing — sometimes a sentence, sometimes a full paragraph — on why they think this or that, so staff is actually getting a little more into that now,” Wing said. “We’ve learned, from our last survey to this one, how that information can actually help us — from our strategic plan to our master plan to our parks master plan to some of the initiatives that our staff are working on, and also with the City Council. ”

The most consistent comments, Dedvukaj said, involve the overall feeling of safety and security in the city; the prioritization of diversity; improving city communication; improving the housing stock mix, and adding more parks and green spaces.

“Out of the thousands of comments that the city received, these five were definitely expressed often. The additional comments will be further analyzed by city departments,” she said.

Dedvukaj said the 2021 survey has a 3% margin of error, with a 95% confidence level, so based on the number of responses received, officials are 95% confident that this sample represents the entire community.

The 2021 survey cost the city approximately $1,921 for mail services and postage, $1,327 for print services and $300 for the survey hosting site.

A complete copy of the survey results is available online at www.ci.rochester.mi.us/survey.

People with questions or concerns can contact the city’s management intern, Lauren Dedvukaj, at ldedvukaj@rochestermi.org or (248) 733-3700, ext. 364.