Since 1969, the City of Thousand Oaks has conducted a communitywide attitude survey every 5 years to sample city residents' views on planning and other community issues.
The 2009 survey was conducted this summer by True North Research of Escondido. They phone surveyed a "statistically representative" sample of 400 Thousand Oaks residents in area codes 91360, 91361, 91362 and 91320. There are 94,000 adult residents in Thousand Oaks and 129,000 total residents. True North said with this sample they are 95% confident that survey results are within a +/- 4.9% margin of error.
Enough of that statistical mumbo jumbo.
They also did a supplemental web survey, sending postcards to residents in late August/early September - 2,785 people logged in and completed the survey (including me). But this survey was not considered "valid" because people were self-selected, not randomized.
Thousand Oaks residents by a landslide are happy to live here. 97% of residents are happy with the quality of life. This is consistent with previous surveys, where this has ranged from 96% to 98% of residents. In fact, True North indicates in its report that T.O. residents are among the most satisfied residents among over 100 similar studies it has done in California.
There is lot of other information in the 68 page survey report accessible at http://www.toaks.org/survey/ but here are some things I found interesting:
52% of T.O. residents commute outside of the Conejo Valley for their jobs, and 35% of those commute over 60 minutes round trip. In the larger web survey, 54% commute and 48% of those commute over 60 minutes round trip. These numbers indicate anywhere from 18% to 26% of Thousand Oaks workers commute more than an hour a day. That's a lotta driving!!
What We Want More Of
People were asked what they want to see more of in Thousand Oaks. 27% (30% in web survey) want more family restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Lobster. 17% (23% on web) want more discount stores like Costco and Big Lots, 15% (17% on web) want more department stores like Target and ugh, Walmart, and 11% (12% on web) want more speciality goods stores like Dick's Sporting Goods and Babies R Us.
Information Sources for News, Events, Programs
They asked people to list their top 3 information sources used for learning about City news, events and programs. The top 5 sources were The Acorn (41%), Ventura County Star (29%), Internet (general) (26%), City website (22%) and City newsletter (14%). WOW!! The Acorn blew away the VC Star on this question. Maybe because The Acorn is delivered free of charge weekly and it because it focused very specifically on highly localized news.
But even more shocking was that 73% of the 2,785 web survey takers say they use The Acorn compared to 46% for the VC Star. Then the 3rd top choice in the web survey, at 26%, was utility bill inserts. What the?? Only 2% of phone survey takers mentioned utility bill inserts. Ironic that only 5% of the web survey takers listed the internet as a top 3 choice vs 26% in the phone survey.
Something tells me this was a poorly designed question. There is way too much disparity between the 400 person phone survey and the 2,785 person web survey results. But kudos are still in order for The Acorn.
This year's survey cost $30K according to The Acorn. The last survey done in 2004 cost half that I believe because it was done by the City. The 400 person "randomized" approach this year was new. In prior years, the survey was physically mailed to nearly 12,000 households at random with a 27% response rate. Response rates using this approach ranged from 27% to 37% going back to 1979.