Today the Curtis Park Character Advocates are releasing the findings of a neighborhood survey conducted in September 2014. The results show preferences for the types of businesses desired by neighbors and strong support for locally owned, independent businesses.
As many of you know, the Advocates formed to explore ways to protect and enhance Curtis Park’s unique character. We focused initially on building support for new limits on formula retail businesses which dilute neighborhood character and eliminate street space available to local entrepreneurs. We began a petition on Change.org, and 347 people (mostly from the neighborhood but also from surrounding areas) signed it. Those supporters, together with the nearly 600 people who signed the petition protesting the replacement of Mercado Loco with a CVS, indicate deep support for restrictions on chains in our neighborhood.
However, after discussions with Councilmember Jay Schenirer, the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association (SCNA) board, the Greater Broadway Partnership (GBP) and the North Franklin District Business Association (NFBDA), we decided to step back and survey neighbors to gauge support for various measures designed to preserve neighborhood character and to ask residents about the types of businesses they want developed in Curtis Park. The survey would provide data that could be used by policymakers, the neighborhood association, and also by developers and entrepreneurs interested in locating businesses in Curtis Park.
Last summer, we began drafting the survey. In order to minimize bias and ensure the survey results would be credible, we recruited CSUS Professors to provide input on the survey design and also to conduct the analysis. We are extremely grateful to California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) sociology professors Carole Barnes (retired), and Rodney Kingsnorth (CSUS faculty) who reviewed the survey and commented on its construction and wording. The survey was distributed last September to 1,800 homes via SCNA’s newspaper and 201 surveys were returned, a statistically significant response rate of 11.1% which is higher than the typical response rate the CSUS-based Institute of Social Research receives for community surveys. Then Sociology students at CSUS analyzed the data under the guidance of sociology Professor Jennifer Murphy, as part of a statistics class.
The Curtis Park Character Advocates attended the class in early December to recieve a report of the student's findings. The students and Professor Murphy will present to Councilmember Jay Schenirer in late January and to the neighborhood on February 17th at Sierra 2. We urge you to join us at this meeting to hear more about the process and the findings. Here is a quick summary:
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY:
- 77.9% of respondents support design controls for future commercial buildings to preserve the neighborhood’s traditional character.
- 91.8% said they don’t want additional fast food restaurants.
- 89.9% asked for new restaurants/bars, coffeehouses and specialty food shops.
- 81.9% oppose additional gas stations.
- More than 63% say they make an effort to shop locally, but usually have to leave the neighborhood to find their most needed items.
- 61% favor curbs on formula businesses (23% more express conditional support)
It is worth noting that the survey didn’t originally contain a question about gas stations. That’s because in the decades of community meetings regarding the Curtis Park Village project, not one neighbor had ever voiced a desire for a new gas station in the neighborhood. The proposal to include a gas station at Curtis Park Village was surfacing just as we were finalizing the survey, so we were able to add a question about it, and now can definitively say that 82% of neighbors oppose additional gas stations. We hope this information helps put the idea of a gas station in CPV to rest.
Another significant finding is that a majority of the respondents approve all the measures suggested to preserve neighborhood character and support local businesses. These include design controls on architectural features of business buildings (78%), incentives for small businesses (70%), preferences for locally owned business in City contracting (66%), a “buy local” campaign (63%), restrictions on formula businesses (61%), and education about locally owned businesses (55%).
There is clear support for the City to begin developing detailed plans and implementing some of these measures to support small, local businesses. We look forward to working with our neighbors and Councilmember Schenirer to do just that.
Hope to see you on February 17th!