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Cottonwood Heights Journal

What’s on residents’ minds? Housing affordability, water usage and growth

Oct 01, 2022 06:15PM ● By Cassie Goff

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Over 767 residents shared their opinions about Cottonwood Heights when they responded to a general survey over the summer. The City of Cottonwood Heights contracted with Y2 Analytics to draft the survey questions and collect resident data. City leaders will use the results of the survey to help guide their decisions. Since Y2 Analytics began surveying Cottonwood Heights residents in 2016, researchers can now compare resident responses and attitudes over time.

On Sept. 6, Y2 Analytics Partner and Vice President of Research Kyrene Gibb presented the key findings from the 2022 general survey with the city council. The primary concerns residents identified revolved around growth, housing affordability and water conservation.

“Housing affordability and availability is the high-level topic on everyone’s minds along the Wasatch Front,” Gibb said.

Cottonwood Heights residents identified a strong preference for single-family homes and mixed-use development. There was also an evenly distributed appetite for a small shopping center or town center amenity. Even though residents would like to see more of these types of developments within the city, they specified that they do not want those developments in their backyard.

“Twenty-seven percent of residents would like to see more mixed-use (development). A comparable percentage would like to see townhomes with large yards,” Gibb reported. However, “an overwhelming majority was in favor of preserving the skyline and neighborhood views.”

From previous years, there was a slight decline in approval ratings for the city’s planning, zoning and building services. “Those services tend to take the bad rap for growth,” Gibb said.

The 2022 survey asked residents to consider if the city needed their own senior center. The result was nearly equally divided.

“A city-sponsored senior center was not seen as a high priority area next to small shopping centers and missing middle housing developments,” Gibb said.

Residents were asked to allocate money from a hypothetical budget to various city investments or improvement areas. The biggest allocation (42% to 48%) was to parks and recreation along with preservation of open spaces and trail development. Residents also allocated a significant portion of their hypothetical budget (34% to 38%) to the improvement and maintenance of city streets, along with police services. 

The overall perception of the city’s street maintenance and public attitudes toward the conditions of those city streets had improved relative to previous years. However, residents reported problems with traffic congestion and the way in which city streets are utilized.

“On average, more residents think city streets are in good condition,” Gibb said.

Residents did indicate that they are interested in seeing improvements in sidewalk availability and walkability throughout the community. In addition to pedestrian-friendly city streets, residents identified storm water, snow removal, and animal control as areas where there is room for improvement.

Even though residents were polarized in their attitudes regarding the Cottonwood Heights Police Department (CHPD), attitudes related to public safety within the city had slightly declined. Gibb reported that this is consistent with the statewide trends.

Responding to open-ended questions, residents commented that they would like to see police officers making more of an effort to be a part of the community instead of sitting in their cars. In addition, residents believe ordinance enforcement is too assertive. However, 60% of residents believe CHPD officers are professional and responsive.

In addition to city services, residents were asked to rate a variety of contracted services. All contracted services, including fire and emergency services, garbage collection, drinking water, recreation programs, city parks and open spaces, and emergency preparedness, received high ratings of satisfaction. 

Residents noted specific appreciation for the responsiveness of the emergency preparedness services.

Communication preferences were also surveyed. Residents were asked about their communication preferences in regards to city-related events and news. Forty percent of residents prefer to receive city communication through the Cottonwood Heights Journal. The survey concluded that communication from the city’s newsletter and Journal are meeting residents needs relatively well.

However, residents expressed a desire for city emails to be utilized more as they wished to receive more communication directly from the city. In addition, one out of every four residents would like to participate in more open houses and city meetings.

“It’s clear residents continue to be satisfied with how the city is being run and their overall quality of life in the city,” Gibb said.