Community Rates County Services

Los Alamos Daily Post

Citizens graded Los Alamos County government in a variety of areas during a recent independent survey conducted by Southwest Planning and Marketing.

Managing partner Chris Cordova said 401 residents were randomly selected to participate in the survey, which began May 9. The survey was conducted by telephone with follow-up email and intercept surveys over the span of two weeks.

A scale of one to four was used to evaluate the County government and respondents gave an average rating of 3.3 for overall quality of life in Los Alamos. This is slightly lower than the 2016 rating of 3.5.

“I didn’t see anything alarming,” Cordova saidof the survey results, adding that the results were fairly level from two years ago with high scores overall.

“If you look at the rating, a three is a good rating on a scale of one to four … anything above a three shows a high level of satisfaction,” Cordova said.

The report states that younger survey participants, those age 18-24, rated County services the lowest. In fact, 16 percent rated services fair and 5 percent rated them poor, according to the report. 

Respondent suggestions for making Los Alamos a better place to live included 15 percent wanting more or better recreation, another 15 percent said fix the permit process, code enforcement and building vacancy and 14 percent said add more businesses.

Cordova said a significant finding was that 73 percent of respondents said they had contact with a County employee in the last two months. This is up from the 52 percent in 2016, he said. County staff got the same rating as in 2016, according to the report.

A few areas got decreased ratings compared to the 2016 community survey including the library system, fire department, recycling services, senior center programs and recreational services. Cordova said this was mainly due to the 18-24 respondents’ evaluations. He explained the 2018 survey got more balanced demographic responses, which included younger generations. Additionally, this particular demographic usually doesn’t use these services as much as other groups and have higher expectations than older participants.

With all the discussions regarding the County’s code enforcement program, the survey revealed that for residential code enforcement, 41 percent felt the current level should be maintained while 30 percent felt it should be decreased. Less than 20 percent felt residential code enforcement should be increased.

What should code enforcement address? Abandoned or inoperable vehicles in front yards, unsafe structures and maintaining residential regulations topped the list. When it comes to commercial properties, 32 percent of respondents felt code enforcement should increase and 49 percent felt it should be maintained in Los Alamos. Similar results were found for White Rock. Overall, respondents felt commercial code enforcement was more important than residential enforcement.

Cordova said his company will prepare a Power Point to present to the Los Alamos County Council. This presentation will allow council to ask questions and make decisions based on the findings.

The community survey is a valuable tool for the County, Cordova said. The survey can identify problems or show what should remain unchanged, he said, adding that he applauds the County for doing the survey.

“It’s commendable that they really want to know how to do a better job for the citizens of Los Alamos,” Cordova said.