County of Marin - News Releases - Resident Survey

For Immediate Release
March 13, 2019

Results Are In for County’s Resident Survey

Responses will help inform County priorities

San Rafael, CA – Marin County residents identified the need to invest in infrastructure – like roads, fire stations and libraries – and disaster preparedness as the top two Board of Supervisors priorities in an anonymous survey conducted by the County of Marin this winter.

Poppies on a hillside overlooking NovatoNot surprisingly, residents said they hold Marin's natural beauty in high regard.
Assistant County Administrator Dan Eilerman said a central aim of the survey effort was to assess whether the County’s top priorities were consistent with those of the community it serves, as well as to compare Marin’s results to other counties, cities and towns nationwide.

“There appears to be strong alignment with our top priorities,” Eilerman said. “There is a wealth of data to review, and County staff will drill down on the results in the months ahead.”

Overall, Marin residents said they enjoy a positive and healthy quality of life, feel safe, and hold Marin’s natural environment in high regard. While automobile traffic is a challenge, pedestrian and bicycle travel shine in comparison to other communities. Quality affordable housing, cost of living, and automobile congestion were the largest areas of overall concern, scoring generally lower than many benchmark communities. 

An open-ended question asking participants to name the “single biggest priority” resulted in 27 percent citing affordability/cost of living/housing; 25 percent citing traffic and transportation improvements; and 22 percent saying environmental issues and disaster preparedness were most important. Four of the top five Board priority areas were among the highest priorities expressed in the open-ended question.

When asked to rate the Board’s five current budget priorities by importance, about 91 percent of respondents prioritized investment in County infrastructure as an essential or a very important priority. Next was disaster preparedness (87 percent of respondents), followed by preserving affordable housing (77 percent), addressing climate change (76 percent), and eliminating inequities in County policies and programs (74 percent).

The survey, conducted through the National Research Center (NRC) for $38,610, was initiated in November 2018 and concluded at the end of January 2019. It was the County’s first resident survey since 2009. All the results are online at, and residents are invited to review the results. Staff provided a summary presentation to the Board of Supervisors during its March 12 regular meeting.

“The survey results are in, and they are fascinating,” said Board President, Kate Sears. “Inputs from residents help us understand what they value and what concerns them most. This information is invaluable in helping us develop policy and budget priorities consistent with those values and concerns. Results suggest sharpening our focus on top-level concerns such as safeguarding housing affordability, enhancing fire safety and climate readiness, and investing in infrastructure. I hope people will explore the data and stay engaged, as this is just the beginning to help shape an even better community.”

Damema Mann, Senior Research Associate for NRC, said 3,200 Marin households were randomly sampled and received a five-page survey in the mail, with 695 responding – resulting in a 4 percent overall margin of error. NRC randomly selected residents to assure responses from different locations, age groups, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The 126-question survey, available in English and Spanish, took about 15-20 minutes to complete.

Some 3,068 Marin residents also utilized a supplementary online “opt-in” survey. That was an opportunity for all other Marin residents to participate in the same survey, marketed with a “Your Voice Matters” campaign with outreach to local community-based organization partners to work with clients and residents to help assure any who may have feared participating in the anonymous survey. The results will help inform the random sample survey results, and staff is reviewing responses to discern where there may be any differences. 

Questions ranged from the general quality of life, local policies, demographics, a rating of local government services, and if the resident’s needs were being met. The survey revealed that most Marin residents are feeling upbeat about their quality of life, a strong economy (despite high costs), a highly regarded natural environment, and suitable human-powered transportation alternatives. Compared with other towns, cities and counties nationally, Marin received generally higher or similar ratings from its residents than in other municipalities. 


Daniel Eilerman
Assistant County Administrator
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7364
Email: Daniel Eilerman
County Administrator website