By Cecilia Chan
GSN Managing Editor

Gilbert has a lot going for it — including  good schools, safety and a healthy local economy — but it needs better public transportation and traffic flow as well as affordable quality housing, residents told the town in a survey.

Town Council recently heard the results for the 2019 National Community Survey that gauged Gilbert’s livability, from surveys conducted in 600 communities across the nation. The town commissioned the National Research Center to do the survey, which was completed in late June.

“The two most important resident priorities were safety and the economy, so the same as in 2017 and 2019,” said Melissa Cannon, data content strategist. “The overall quality of life rated similarly from 2017 to 2019 with 98 percent rating it excellent or good.”

Cannon said Gilbert’s participation in the survey, both mailed and online, surpassed most other municipalities that have been surveyed.

“They typically receive around 300,” she said of the research center. “In 2017, we had 800 due to online and this year, we had over 2,000, which really eclipse other cities.”

A total of 2,534 residents took the survey. Of that, 72 percent of the respondents were between 25 to 54 and 89 percent identified as white, Cannon said.

Other overall characteristics of respondents included 69 percent worked full time, 80 percent owned a home and 50 percent had children younger than 17 living at home, she added.

The survey gathers opinions about resident satisfaction, community livability and government services, which helps guide elected leaders make decision on their community’s future.

Highlights from Gilbert’s survey include:

8 in 10 said Gilbert has a good or excellent sense of community, which eclipses levels seen in most other cities across the nation. Gilbert ranked 18th among all other municipalities.

Almost all residents exalted the town as a place to raise children and around 9 in 10 lauded the quality of K-12 public education; both of these evaluations eclipsed other communities across the country.

  • About three-quarters of respondents felt the quality of schools and educational opportunities were important factors when deciding to settle in Gilbert.
  • At least 9 in 10 survey respondents applauded the town’s overall economic health, vibrant downtown/commercial area, overall quality of business and service establishments and shopping opportunities.
  • 97 percent of survey respondents indicated they would be very or somewhat likely to recommend Gilbert to someone who might ask — which was higher than the national benchmark.
  • 92 percent reported they would remain in the community for the next five years.
  • More than 9 in 10 respondents gave “excellent” or “good” ratings to the overall services provided by the town, resulting in ratings that were higher than national and peer communities and put Gilbert residents’ satisfaction with their local government at seventh place in the nation.

The survey concluded residents found Gilbert an exceptional place to live and raise a family and that nearly all the survey respondents praised the town as a place to live. That feeling was the fifth strongest in the nation.

Respondents said community affordability — cost of living and housing options  — were the top two factors they would use to determine if they were to relocate somewhere outside of Gilbert.

And, as in 2017, residents identified safety and the economy as priorities for Gilbert to focus on in the next two years.

In 2019, residents’ ratings for ease of travel by public transportation and traffic flow decreased.

In addition, two of the lowest-rated government services were traffic-signal timing and bus or transit services.

Gilbert community members who resided in attached units were more influenced by access to convenient transportation than their counterparts and was an important factor if they were to decide to relocate away from Gilbert, according to the report.

Overall, ratings in Gilbert for 2019 generally remained stable.

Of the 130 items for which comparisons were available, 109 items or 84 percent were rated similarly in 2017 and 2019, 12 items showed a decrease in ratings and nine showed an increase in ratings:

Mayor Jenn Daniels noted elected officials were already aware of the transportation issues.

She directed staff to incorporate the report for the Council’s fall retreat, when members discuss a plan for Gilbert’s future.

For the full report: gilbertaz.gov/residentsurvey