Survey: Living in OKC better than OK
High marks for fire, police services; roads take a hit
Respondents to the 2021 Oklahoma City resident survey held the city’s fire, trash and police services in high regard, helping the city rank above the national average as a place to live, while many also acknowledged the need for improvements to city and neighborhood streets.
The annual survey gives a glimpse into residents’ perception of their city and the issues residents feel should be addressed with priority in the next two years.
According to the survey, 85 percent of residents view Oklahoma City as an excellent or good place to
“I’d say there’s a large variation throughout the city, but they’ve been doing a lot of work and it’s making a difference. But there’s also a few roads I drive on consistently with some landmines of potholes.”
Mitch Howard, Mesta Park resident
live with 82 percent of respondents answering that the city is a good place to work. Positive perception of neighborhoods, safety and as a place to raise a child are all contributing factors to the city’s ranking as a good place to live, which is 6 percent ahead of the national average.
Fire, police, ambulance, trash service earn high ranks
City services that hit high approval ratings were fire response at 91 percent, trash collection and ambulance services at 81 percent and police service at 73 percent. Oklahoma City’s police ranking is eight points above the national average.
Additionally, policing in neighborhoods was viewed favorably by 68 percent of respondents, which is 23 percent higher than the average among large U.S. cities, according to the survey conducted by the ETC Institute.
However, residents have made clear there is room for continued improvement as quality of police service is the third-ranking issue respondents feel should receive emphasis over the next two years.
“I think that there needs to be a complete reconstruction of the police department,” said Jasmine Seevers, a resident in the Heritage Hills neighborhood.
Seevers cited responding to the homeless population, police judgement and the conditions of the Oklahoma County jail as rationale to overhaul the system.
“The Oklahoma City Police Department is really like a problem in and of itself,” Seevers said.
The survey’s limited sample size indicates that 51 percent of the 1,283 respondents had contact with a police officer in the last three years and that 90 percent of the residents report being treated fairly.
In respect to future improvements, the Oklahoma City Police Department has recently received recommendations on alternative responses to mental health calls and, according to city managers, the city has already set aside funding for a new program that is still to be created and implemented.
Rough streets get thumbs down
One area of consensus among Oklahoma City residents was on the quality of roads, as only 12 percent of respondents were satisfied with current street conditions.
“I’d say there’s a large variation throughout the city, but they’ve been doing a lot of work and it’s making a difference,” said Mitch Howard, a resident of the Mesta Park neighborhood. “But there’s also a few roads I drive on consistently with some landmines of potholes.”
Improvements to city and neighborhood streets is an ongoing effort and something that 80 percent of resident respondents feel should be a point of emphasis for the city over the next two years, according to the survey.
The survey was mailed to random households in Oklahoma City with the goal of at least 1,200 respondents. 1,238 did respond, resulting in data with a 2.7 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level.
On Monday, the Oklahoma City Bond Advisory Committee approved and recommended to the City Council several street widening projects on Sara Road from SW 29 to SW 44 and on North Kelley Avenue from East Wilshire Boulevard to East Britton Road.
Also on Monday, the Community and Neighborhood Enhancement Advisory Board heard status updates on several street enhancement projects and street resurfacing efforts across the city from the Stockyards to Automobile Alley.
Several projects have been completed, many are ongoing with plans for completion this fall, and other plans are being submitted with work to start after finalized plans are approved.
“There’s been a lot of construction near my office this year on roads, which was inconvenient at the time, but it’s been a pretty great little improvement that they’ve put in new paved roads around,” said Howard.
City residents voted to approve 13 bond measures and two sales tax increases in 2017 to address streets and safety, the initiative is known as better streets, safer city. Funds from the temporary sales tax increase, which is estimated to be $240 million, are earmarked for various street improvement plans.
Working alongside the 2017 sales tax is the project’s general obligation bond package that directs $967 million for street upgrades along with fire, police and park facility improvements.
The package is the successor to a 2007 bond initiative that also focused on similar street and infrastructure improvements.
Additionally, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation added funding for more than 300 highway and infrastructure projects to its eight-year plan on Monday, including completion of the Interstate 240 and Interstate 35 junction in south Oklahoma City along with $20 million in improvements to the Interstate 40 and Interstate 44 junction in 2029 and an estimated $48 million in upgrades to the State Highway 152 junction with I-44 and I-240 in 2029.