We like it here

SW residents give high marks to neighborhood in citywide survey

Residents of the Southwest and Calhoun Isles planning districts view their neighborhoods and neighbors very well, generally feel safe and plan to stick around a while.

Those were some of the results of a city of Minneapolis citizen survey conducted late last year and released the last week of February.

The survey, which was designed to give city officials information for strategic planning, asked residents about myriad topics ranging from perceptions of downtown and priorities for future city services to how snow emergency information was received and quality of city governance.

Neighborhood perceptions Southwest and Calhoun Isles residents were significantly more likely to view their neighborhood more favorably than citizens citywide.

In the survey, 73 percent of Southwest residents viewed their neighborhood as a very good place to live; another 23 percent viewed it as a good place to live. In Calhoun Isles, 58 percent said their neighborhood was a very good place; 39 percent said good.

The citywide average was 39 percent viewing their neighborhood as very good; 40 percent as good; and, 16 percent as only fair. The remaining respondents identified their neighborhood as poor.

Craig Bishop, a Tangletown resident with a wife and 10-year-old son, counts himself among the Southwest residents who view their part of the city as a very good place to live.

"We've been in the neighborhood going on 13 years now," Bishop, a bond trader said. "It's accessible to virtually anything in the cities. We're close to the lakes. Personally I like the older mature neighborhoods with the mature trees and the older homes with character."

Southwest contrasted with Phillips, where a majority of residents were more likely to view their neighborhood less favorably. In Phillips, 20 percent of those surveyed said their neighborhood was poor; 45 percent said only fair.

The survey revealed Southwest residents rated their own neighborhoods more favorably as good places to live than they rated the city in general. Only 91 percent of Southwest residents rated the city as a whole as a very good or good place to live compared to 97 percent giving those ratings to their own neighborhood.

Length of residency Southwest, Nokomis and Camden had the highest percentage of residents -- more than a third -- that have lived in the city for 30 or more years. These three neighborhoods also had the highest number of respondents who anticipated living in Minneapolis 5 years from now. In Southwest, 74 percent of those surveyed said they would be here in 5 years. The citywide average was 66 percent, which was also the percentage of Calhoun Isles residents who anticipated city residency in 5 years.

Fulton resident Mari McCabe, who has a 13-year-old son, plans to stick around -- "At least through his high school years," she said.

McCabe, who is a daycare provider, has lived in her home for 10 years and lived in Linden Hills before that. "Pretty much the neighborhood people have been here since we've been here," she said.

McCabe said there is a strong neighborhood connection -- something that was born out in survey results. Southwest and Nokomis residents were statistically more likely to feel connected to neighbors and their community than residents citywide.

Perceived change Southwest residents, more than any other community's residents, said the city of Minneapolis had stayed about the same as a place to live over the past three years. A total of 66 percent of Southwest residents said things stayed the same; 21 percent said things had gotten better and 13 percent said things had gotten worse.

Perceived change for the better was highest in the same communities that offered the worse negative reviews -- Powderhorn, Phillips and Near North, according to the survey analysis.

Safety Southwest and Calhoun Isles were statistically more likely to view their neighborhoods as "safe" than other city residents as a group, according to the survey. In Southwest, 97 percent of residents said they strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, "My neighborhood is a safe place to live." In Calhoun Isles, 96 percent of the residents strongly agreed or agreed.

This contrasted with Phillips and Near North, where residents were statistically less likely to view their neighborhoods as safe. In Phillips, for example, 54 percent of residents said they disagreed or strongly disagreed that their neighborhood was

a safe place to live.

For Dave Delvoye, the chair of the Fulton Safety Committee, safety issues have been a key concern for the past decade. The committee has worked on issues such as graffiti and speeding traffic. Delvoye said the city survey confirmed what a recent neighborhood-specific survey said about strong perceptions of safety.

"It's that combination of being connected to your neighbors both on your block and within the neighborhood, and knowing what's happening in the neighborhood that makes it especially strong," Delvoye said. "I believe that helps keep it safe."

Future challenges The affordability, availability and condition of housing was the top concern cited citywide. In Southwest, education was a slightly greater concern than housing -- 39 percent cited education issues and 36 percent cited housing.

In Calhoun-Isles, the top concern was transportation issues -- particularly public transportation -- followed by housing and education; 43 percent were concerned with transportation, 41 percent with housing and 37 percent with education. But with such a large margin of error, these results were not statistically significant.

The results did indicate a willingness among many city residents to raise taxes to fund affordable housing initiatives.

"For the community to remain vibrant, there's got to be a place where everybody can live," said Bishop, who said he supported increased taxes to fund affordable housing initiatives. "It's a crucial part of building a strong, diversified community."