Temporarily closing off the downtown streets for a more walkable experience, more diverse shopping alternatives and the loitering problem ranked high in a new survey of Nevada City residents.
The survey, led by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, was revealed to citizens during a meeting Monday night. Nevada City has never conducted such a study seeking residents' opinions, and it is vital because of the flagging local and national economy, said Kirk Valentine, head of the chamber's marketing committee and owner of the Nevada City Classic Cafe.
"The most astounding survey result is the numbers favoring closing off the streets," Valentine said.
The survey revealed 89 percent favored closing off the streets for a walkable marketplace.
"In a sense, you're already doing a lot of this," said Glenda Zanone, a former council member and mayor, pointing to the Victorian Christmas and Summer Nights street fairs. Zanone was one of about 20 people who turned out for Monday night's presentation at City Hall.
The study also found that tourists and visitors to Nevada City are not big spenders despite their higher-than-average income.
The four recommendations based on the responses were: solve the loitering problem, express the sentiment to temporarily close the streets, provide a broader range of commercial establishments, and include more choice in music at civic events.
"There was a clear complaint of the lack of basic living need products and establishments in downtown Nevada City," the survey said. "This included higher quality foods and basic products (a farmers market and basic services such as a bakery, pharmacy and related stores), which were lacking but fulfilled by outlying shopping in Grass Valley and other close-by shopping malls."
Respondents also expressed a strong desire to limit offices of professional services, including real estate, home loans and title companies. Others complained about too many cars and congestion.
"Lastly and not to be dismissed was a strong contingent of people that wanted no change whatsoever," the report said.
The survey, dubbed "The Great Nevada City Survey," captured 447 respondents with three-digit addresses in the city limits, 214 people in the 95959 zip code of Nevada City and an additional 330 respondents from outside these regions - for a total of nearly 1,000. The group said it was hoping for only 300 responses "at best."
An estimated 12,000 people live within the 95959 zip code in Nevada City.
Visitors outside of Nevada City were presented with a slightly different survey (directed more toward consumer spending). "We wanted to determine where customers are really coming from," Valentine said.
Randall Sherman, head of New Venture Research Corp. in Nevada City, which conducted the survey, guaranteed that the results were 95 percent accurate. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2007.
"Typically, many city surveys elsewhere get 2 percent or 1 percent of its residents to respond," Valentine said, while the response rate in Nevada City was higher.
The survey cost between $1,500 and $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses and the chamber, city and Nevada City Downtown Association shared the cost, Valentine said.
To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4234.
The survey concluded that Nevada City residents want:
The loitering problem solved
Downtown streets closed off for special events and a marketplace
A greater variety of businesses
More choices in music at special events