About two-thirds of Menlo Park residents support an above-ground parking facility, according to a new city survey by Godbe Research.
The research firm conducted the survey in 2015 online and over the phone, which garnered responses from 744 of Menlo Park's 24,777 residents ages 18 and older, according to Bryan Godbe of Godbe Research, who presented the results at the Jan. 12 City Council meeting. The results are a representative sample of the city's adult population, he said.
Jim Cogan, the city's housing and economic development manager, said he was happy to see the support for a garage. A parking garage, he said, is "the linchpin in development opportunities for some of the things people would like to see" in downtown Menlo Park.
Menlo Park received low marks in the retail category, with only 35 percent of respondents saying Menlo Park is a good or excellent place to shop.
Participants were also fairly lukewarm about downtown Menlo Park, with about 56 percent saying they were somewhat or very satisfied and about 30 percent who were somewhat or very dissatisfied. When asked what they'd like downtown, about 26 percent said they'd like to see more restaurants and bars.
Overall, though, 90 percent of the Menlo Park residents who participated in the survey said Menlo Park is a good or excellent place to live. The approval percentage is down from a 97 percent rating in 2012.
Eighty-five percent of respondents said their Menlo Park neighborhood is a good or excellent place to live, while 84 percent said Menlo Park is a good place to raise children. Seventy-nine percent gave Menlo Park excellent or good marks as a "visually attractive community."
Two-thirds of respondents said the police department was "excellent or good" at addressing neighborhood concerns. Sixty-six percent said Menlo Park has a strong sense of community.
One aspect of Menlo Park life receiving negative ratings, for an overall score of "somewhat dissatisfied," was traffic flow on major streets during commute hours.
The city scored around a "neither satisfied nor dissatisfied" rating on neighborhood traffic flow and on its land use, planning and zoning services.
City Manager Alex McIntyre said the community survey is like a kid's report card. A teacher may tell parents on a regular basis that their child is doing well, but it's not until the report card comes home that weaknesses are revealed, or one is assured that "the kid really was doing great," he said.
Mr. McIntyre was pleased with this report card, though he added: "I'm not suggesting it's all positive. We certainly have work to do."
Generally, the items people expressed dissatisfaction with are things "we were already aware of," he said.
The survey also broke down ratings of different city services. Overall, people were most pleased with police emergency services and library facilities. Parks and Recreation scored highest on overall attractiveness and cleanliness of park facilities (which Mr. Godbe said was rare) and the ease of access to parks, and lowest on organized sports for adults.
In the category of public works, residents were most satisfied with yard waste, recycling and garbage pickup and least satisfied with traffic signal timing.
The libraries scored highest on customer service and lowest on library hours and programs for adults and teens, though people were still "somewhat satisfied." City communications scored highest with its activity guide and lowest on the website, menlopark.org, but still registered "somewhat satisfied" marks.
Mr. Godbe said that Godbe Research is in the process of further organizing the data to show results from different geographic segments of the city, and will share those results with the city when completed.