Engaging the Boulder Community

The community survey asks a broad range of questions, including quality of life, priorities for city government, ratings of city services, communication and outreach, use of city facilities and programs and demographics.

Project Overview

The survey asked community members about their priorities for the city, quality of life and their overall satisfaction with government services.

The survey results will help inform City Council decisions and planning priorities and will provide crucial information to help the City of Boulder provide the best services possible.

This year’s survey combined a shortened-version of a template survey that has been used previously in Boulder called the National Community Survey with several new Boulder-specific questions that focus on racial equity and engagement. This blend will allow the city to analyze trend data for questions asked over the past decade while recognizing emerging issues of importance and attention in our community.

Survey Results

While many city services were rated lower than in 2018, satisfaction levels for nearly all services were similar or higher than in comparable cities

For questions asked in both 2018 – the last time the survey was conducted – and this fall, scores declined in 44 of 78 areas measured. Thirteen of the areas received more positive ratings, and 21 stayed about the same.

Polco, the firm that conducted the survey on Boulder’s behalf, noticed this year over year decline has been experienced across the country. They believe the pandemic, which resulted in cuts in programs and the emergence of stark economic and emotional health issues, is the primary reason for the downward trend.

Key Findings

  • Quality of life is high in Boulder
    • Over 9 in 10 residents positively rated the quality of natural environments, health and wellness opportunities, and quality of parks and recreation opportunities.
    • More than half of community members rated Boulder as a place to retire and the sense of community as either excellent or good.

  • Residents feel positive about economic aspects of Boulder, except for cost of living
    • Overall quality and variety of business and service establishments and employment opportunities were ranked higher than the Front Range and national benchmarks.
    • Vibrancy of downtown/commercial area and shopping opportunities were ranked much higher than the Front Range and national benchmarks.

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion are important to residents, and most feel welcome and accepted in the Boulder community
    • Nearly 7 in 10 survey participants indicated that it is either essential or very important for local government to focus on creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive city.

  • Homelessness is a significant problem in the city, and residents are supportive of funding community-based solutions
    • More than 8 in 10 residents indicated that it is either essential or very important to contribute funding for mental health programs, shelter during severe weather (including severe temperatures), and substance abuse programs.
    • Over 7 in 10 respondents indicated that it is essential or very important to contribute funding for supportive housing (which combines housing with services such as job training and substance abuse treatment) and housing/rental assistance programs.

Survey Methodology

The survey was the 11th of its kind conducted for Boulder by Polco since 1987. In 2014, the city established the practice of using a consistent data tool to survey the community every two years. That cadence was interrupted by COVID-19, but the city plans to get back on a cycle of regularity with the 2023 effort.

Between Sept. 5 and Oct. 17, 2023, 6,000 randomly selected households were invited to take the five-page survey, either online or on paper. The online survey was available in English, Spanish and Nepali.

Polco received 895 responses, which represents a 15% response rate and yields a 95% confidence interval with a +/- 3% margin of error.

In addition, an identical survey was made available through the city’s BeHeardBoulder site to allow individuals who were interested in providing feedback but not invited through random selection to participate. An additional 324 responses were collected in this way.

Results were then statistically weighted to reflect Boulder overall.