OKLAHOMA CITY – About four-out-of-five residents say Oklahoma City is an “excellent” or “good” place to live, according to an annual survey. It’s a figure that has declined from last year, but is still better than average satisfaction in similar-sized cities across the country.
Seventy-nine percent of OKC residents call themselves satisfied with where they live, higher than the 75 percent of people satisfied in large U.S. cities, according to the survey.
“I think where you live is a state of mind,” said resident Sharika Browne. “Some people say they don’t like Oklahoma because there’s nothing to do, there’s nowhere to go, it’s boring. Maybe you’re boring. I think you make where you go.”
Browne spoke to NewsChannel 4 from a walking trail around Hefner Park, where she said she loves to see all people coming out to enjoy the city’s parks and recreation.
Flying kites with his grandchildren, Oklahoma native Willis Jones said he can’t imagine a better place to raise his family.
“I’ve been all over the world and this is a real relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “I love it. And it’s good to bring your kids out here, the Oklahoma City Police keeps it safe out here. Love it.”
The survey shows residents are most satisfied with police (68%), ambulance (78%) and fire services (88% with 11% “neutral”) and call it a good place to raise children. Seventy percent say the city is moving in the right direction.
But many overall numbers are down from last year’s survey. In 2015, 80 percent said OKC is moving in the right direction. That year, more people rated OKC a good or excellent place to live (88% vs. 79%), work (84% vs. 72%) and raise children (81% vs. 66%).
Parents like Sarah and Jimmy Price say in their opinion, OKC is the perfect location to raise their infant daughter Caitlynn.
“I think it’s a great place with the lake and a lot of the renewal they’re doing downtown, in the midtown area,” they said, attributing some of the slips in the survey to the economic climate.
“I think right now the economy is down in Oklahoma City and that’s causing people to worry,” said Kristy Yager, Oklahoma City’s public information officer. “When oil and gas is down people start losing their jobs and obviously that affects the economy.”
In a news release, City Manager Jim Couch agreed.
“We understand where our residents are coming from, because things haven’t been easy recently in Oklahoma City. Our sales tax revenue has declined while some of our key employers have struggled,” he said. “But we’re optimistic because our residents are still happy living here even in a relatively tough year. And we’re always investing in areas where they want us to improve.”
The biggest area for improvement is likely the roads. Only 9 percent of people are satisfied with the condition of city streets.
“Our tires and the suspensions on our car really suffer with all of the potholes,” said Nannette Dellinger. “I grew up in the country with rough roads. “It feels worse actually.”
Other areas of concern include public transportation (22% satisfaction), city code enforcement (35%) and traffic flow around town (41%).
City leaders say they’ve taken notice.
After a presentation of the survey at City Hall Tuesday, Councilmembers David Greenwell and Mark Stonecipher expressed interest in a special meeting to address the roads.
“It’s really important that people be happy with the city they live in,” said Yager. “With Oklahoma City we use the survey to help put our priorities in place. So we know citizens are dissatisfied with city streets and we’re doing everything we can to change that.”