What do you think about Austin? A new comprehensive survey that was released Thursday answers that questions and several other pressing issues. At first glance Austin has the look of a city on the move. And even in a rain shower there is a bright outlook by those who live here. That’s the conclusion of a new poll done by marketing guru Peter Zandan.
"If you look at this data Austin is obviously no longer a place to drop out it’s the pace to drop in,” said Zandan.
The online poll surveyed 804 people from across the metro region during the last weeks of April. Seventy-seven percent ranked Austin as one of the top cities in the nation. Traffic congestion was the top concern followed by population growth, affordable housing and water issues because of the drought.
Failing to address these problems is the underlying warning in the survey, although Zandan doesn’t think the poll points to a tipping point just yet.
"I think the biggest risk to Austin right now is complacency, that if we don’t address these problems it’s just going to get tougher and tougher for the community to thrive, which it is doing,” said Zandan.
A symbolic question in the poll asks; is Austin still weird? Examples of that can be found across town- like some of the artwork at city hall. Nearly 90 percent of those who responded say Austin is weird. But there is a generational divide regarding where all this weirdness is taking us.
Those taking part in the poll between the age of 18 and 34 were classified as Millennials. Sixty-four percent say Austin is heading in the right direction but only 46 percent of those who are 35 years and old agree with that.
The rate of dissatisfaction is even higher for those who have lived here since 1982.
Jordan Hall who has lived in Austin for more than a decade and Lander Peerman who grew up in Austin both love the city but have different thoughts on the direction its taking.
"I was happier when I got here a few years ago, honestly it’s gotten a little crowded for my taste, I like the weirdness still, but it’s a bit too popular,” said Hall.
Peerman agrees that Austin has gone from Hippie to Hipster.
“But I kind of like the vibe. Second St. is cool, SoCo has changed, Eastside is real cool, so I like it,” said Peerman.
Both age groups in the survey are also willing to pay more taxes to improve a long list of needs. They include public schools, addressing the water shortage, building more parks and completing commuter rail.
The rail idea is a potentially controversial project supported by Mayor Lee Leffingwell who described the poll as optimistic. Despite that Leffingwell doesn’t seem ready to use the survey as a mandate and promotional tool for rail.
"I’ve been calling on people to try to put their, try to look at the big picture, try to look at the entire region, I’ve called it a crisis , and take a little something you don’t like for the good for the team."
The mayor is optimistic that 73 percent of the younger people surveyed want urban rail. Support drops off with age, and older people historically are those who show up at the voting booth.
Link to poll: