Executive Summary

In February 2013, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) administered the 14th biennial San Francisco City Survey. The purpose of the survey is to objectively address residents’ use and satisfaction with various City services, and to help determine community priorities as a part of San Francisco’s ongoing planning process. This report reviews the results and key findings of the research. The full dataset of 2013 responses, as well as the results of past surveys, is available at http://www.sfcontroller.org/citysurvey.

Summary of Key Findings

Across most service areas evaluated as a part of the 2013 City Survey, satisfaction levels have increased, with a higher percentage of residents reporting favorable ratings ( grades of “A” for excellent or “B” for good) than in 2011. Highlights include the following.
  • Local Government: On average, residents give City government a “B-” grade for providing services. However, for the first time since the introduction of the City Survey in 1997 a majority of residents (52 percent) say local government is doing a “good” or “excellent” job. This continues a generally upward trend in resident satisfaction with local government that began in 2004. Consistent with prior surveys, respondents’ general comments and suggestions focus on Muni and public transportation.

  • Public Safety: Consistent with perceptions reported in 2011, more than four in five residents report feeling safe walking alone in their neighborhood during the day. In contrast, only two in five residents feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood at night, a seven percent decline since 2011. Residents in the Southeast continue to report feeling less safe relative to San Franciscans living in other parts of the city.

  • Parks and Recreation: Residents continue to express relatively high levels of satisfaction with city parks and services offered by the Recreation and Parks Department. A majority of residents give grades of “A” for excellent or “B” for good across every question related to parks and recreation. In most areas, satisfaction ratings increased from a “B-”average in 2011 to a “B” this year.

  • Libraries: City libraries and library services continue to register the highest levels of resident satisfaction across the range of services assessed in the survey. Satisfaction ratings for assistance from library staff, library collections, online services, Internet access at libraries, and levels of cleanliness and maintenance at the City’s main library and neighborhood branches have all improved since 2011. On average, residents offer a “B” to a “B+” grade in each of these areas.

  • Transportation: Resident satisfaction with Muni has increased slightly across all areas, with most grades rising from a “C” to a “C+” on average. Residents give Muni the highest rating for fares (“B-”) and lowest rating for cleanliness (“C”). Across all other areas, including courtesy of drivers, safety, timeliness and communication to passengers, residents offer a “C+” grade.

  • Infrastructure: Assessments of the City’s infrastructure, including water and sewer infrastructure, street and sidewalk conditions, the adequacy of street lighting and the maintenance of street signs and traffic signals range from favorable (“B+”) to average (“C” to “C+”). With regard to street and sidewalk conditions specifically, residents generally express higher levels of satisfaction with neighborhood conditions relative to conditions citywide. Satisfaction with most aspects of the City’s infrastructure has improved slightly since 2011.

  • Children, Youth, and Families: Nearly three-quarters of parents with children in public schools describe the quality of their children’s school as good (“B”) or excellent (“A”). The proportion of parents who give their children’s school an “A” grade has risen from 18 percent in 2011 to 26 percent this year. Parents of children under age six continue to be the most likely to move out of the city in the next three years, though this number has shown a slight decline since 2011 (from 36 to 35 percent).

  • Senior Services: Among residents age 60 and older, relatively small proportions (fewer than 20 percent) have used select services, such as food/meal programs, personal/home care services or social activity programs offered by local public or private organizations. A majority who have not taken advantage of these services says it is because they do not need them. Among seniors who have used senior services in the past year, twice as many use free programs over paid programs, with close to an equal mix of public and private providers.

  • Internet Access: The percentage of residents with home Internet access remains high (88 percent report having access) but disparities by ethnicity, income, education level and age persist. Older residents, those with lower incomes and less education are among the least likely to have home Internet access relative to other demographic subgroups. These subgroups are also less likely to have Internet access via mobile devices. Just over three in four residents (77 percent) use the Internet to access City services, information and resources, similar to 2011.

  • Emergency Preparedness: Residents report being more prepared for a major emergency now than they were four years ago. Over half of residents report setting aside 72 hours worth of emergency supplies, putting a family communications plan in place or taking CPR or first aid training, while about twelve percent report using City resources for emergency planning, such as subscribing to the City’s emergency notification tools.

  • 311 and Customer Service: Nearly two-thirds of residents (65 percent) have heard of the City’s 311 customer service program, and the number of residents who have called 311 in the past year has risen substantially (from 30 percent in 2011 to 55 percent in 2013). Use of the 311 service via the Internet or a mobile device has also increased, but by a smaller margin. In general, satisfaction with both the online and telephone service has risen since 2011 to a “B” for good. With regard to broader customer service issues, 23 percent of residents who speak a language other than English at home report that a language barrier makes it difficult for them to access City services. Asian Americans and residents of Southeast San Francisco are the most likely to have difficulty in this area.

  • Economic and Social Characteristics: The percentage of residents who report they are likely to move out of the city in the next three years has declined from 32 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in this year’s survey. While a large majority of San Francisco residents are able to cover their basic expenses, a smaller proportion of Latinos, parents and those living in the Southeastern part of the city report being able to do so relative to other demographic subgroups. The percentage of residents reporting that someone in their household, or they them self, have a physical challenge or health condition has also declined since 2011.
Methodology and Report Overview

The 2013 City Survey was administered to 3,628 residents by mail, phone and online in English, Chinese and Spanish. The overall results have a 95 percent level of confidence with a precision of +/-1.6 percent.

Eleven-thousand randomly selected San Francisco residents were initially invited to complete the survey by mail and online. Residents who had not completed the mail or online questionnaire were subsequently invited to participate by phone; 3,628 surveys were completed in total. Responses were weighted in this analysis to reflect a representation of the actual San Francisco population according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

This report provides geographic and demographic analysis for each question – including differences between supervisorial district, age, income, ethnicity – and comparisons to prior survey years. An analysis of open-ended comments is also provided. The appendices provide a detailed breakdown of survey respondent demographics and survey responses.