Almost three-quarters of San Antonio residents who responded to the city’s biennial community survey reported the quality of city services as “good” or “excellent,” making San Antonio the highest-ranked among large Texas cities in overall satisfaction.

Residents’ “perceptions of the community” were also strong.

San Antonio was rated excellent or good by those who responded to the survey as a place to live (75%), a place to raise a family (71%), a place to work (69%) and a place to experience art and culture (66%).

But it also lost ground compared to 2018 survey results in San Antonio as a safe place (down 16%), a place to retire (down 10%), a place to raise a family (down 9%), a place to open a business (down 8%) and as a place to work (down 7%).

The 2022 community survey findings, released by the City of San Antonio Thursday, was conducted by ETC Institute to measure resident satisfaction with city services; the city said the results will help guide future service decisions.

The survey asked 1,094 residents, in English and Spanish, questions based on satisfaction, engagement and communication every two years. The survey is the first after a 2020 pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak. At least 100 surveys were completed in each of the city’s 10 council districts. 

According to the report, since 2018, overall satisfaction in city services among residents has increased by 10%, to 74%. Fire/emergency services, solid waste and the city’s library system all ranked above 90% for “satisfied” and “very satisfied.”

According to a city press release, departments that saw the greatest increases in satisfaction are also those that “have had significant program focus and support” from the mayor and city council, including:

  • Public health, which saw a 25% increase in resident satisfaction,
  • Code enforcement, with an 18% increase,
  • Animal Care Services, with a 17% increase,
  • Public Works, with a 17% increase, and
  • Aviation, with a 15% increase.

“In more than 30 years, the results of this survey are some of the most impressive of any city I have ever seen. While nationally we see many communities see double-digit decreases in satisfaction, we saw significant improvement here in San Antonio,” said Chris Tatham, CEO of the ETC Institute. “Objective, statistically valid data like this helps cities respond to the needs of their community and benchmark themselves against other cities.”

Compared to other major city service ratings, including Austin, Dallas, El Paso and Fort Worth, San Antonio rated first among all categories except two: airport and police services. Houston will conduct its survey in late 2022. 

While overall satisfaction with the Aviation Department increased, satisfaction with the number of flight options, nonstop flights, destinations and airlines all decreased 9% since 2018, according to survey results.

Residents were most satisfied with police services in three areas: resident and neighborhood protection (81%), quick response to emergencies (76%), and the overall quality of police services at 72%, an increase of 8% from 2018.

While fewer residents reported San Antonio as a safe place to live in the community perception portion of the survey, four of the seven perceptions were identified by ETC Institute as “comparative strengths,” because satisfaction levels were significantly higher than the national average.

The ETC Institute defines “national average” as data from its “National DirectionFinder Resident Survey,” which is conducted in communities with a population of more than 250,000 residents.

Many city services also ranked above the national average, according to the report:

  • Overall quality of city services, by 31%
  • Solid Waste services, by 38%
  • Parks and Recreation services, by 34%
  • Public Library services, by 32%
  • Police Services, by 28%
  • Public Works services, by 25% 
  • Fire and emergency services, by 23%
  • Code Enforcement services, by 23%
  • Animal Care services, by 19%

According to the city, survey results, along with additional feedback provided by the residents, will help departments make improvements in city services and enhance services rated highly by residents. It will also guide future actions and decisions and benchmark progress since 2018. 

City Manager Erik Walsh said in the release that the results of the community survey “show the effort and commitment of our more than 13,000 employees who serve our community daily, strive for excellent customer service.”

Walsh added, “There is no finish line when it comes to customer service. The data gathered from this survey helps us identify services that are excelling and areas where we need to improve for our customers, the residents of our city.”

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. A 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, her work has been recognized by the Texas Managing Editors. She previously worked...