Public Review and Surveys: Are They Worth It?

Whether we’re talking about Downtown South, Dix Park upgrades, or any transit plan of your choice on this website, I noticed there’s this weird, interesting subtext. Sometimes, it seems like some people care about something other than every little detail of every public project out there.

Instead, they’re frustrated at the process of how it happens. I noticed that you can group some people on this site plus others who like to throw wrenches into new development plans into a few categories:

Reactionary NIMBYs
Impatiently Eager YIMBYs
Issues-Based Activists

With how our society is built today, projects built using our taxes have to please all of these people with different ideas and priorities. Do you think that’s necessary? What should be our priorities when we’re using our taxes to plan and build roads, trains, pipes etc.?

Go here if you want to compare your opinions compare with others’:


I think the major problem here, problem defined as those on this community anyway, is that the survey period has been an addition to the process rather than something that streamlines it.

Ideally, wouldn’t it be great if we had a set 6-week, for example, survey period that cuts 6 months of back and forth between council and committees?

Surevys aren’t the entire public engagement picture but I think if we had those other 4 or 5 tools working in parallel that get feedback quickly from stakeholders and citizens across demographics, then you have a strong case to let staff approve things and have less committee/council process slowing it down.

Easier said than done, I’m aware of though. :grimacing:


Great observation. It’s especially frustrating when surveys seem to be done for the illusion of democracy, while the end results completely ignore the survey results or a consultants findings. It makes some surveys seem completely futile.


I don’t think they’re worth it, they’re almost like CACs. Now I don’t know how many people on an average look do the survey but I can see it’s small. And for people who don’t it’s on them, they didn’t pay attention, so they don’t have the right to complain, it’s like voting in this election we can’t hear your voice until you vote, and if you don’t really can’t hear your voice!!!

Why do you think there’s so few people doing surveys, though? Do you know about every survey that exists? Do you actively go through each one, and specifically choose which ones you fill out? …or are you simply not aware that they exist?

Not being aware of surveys and actively ignoring them are two different things. One is willful ignorance, but the other can be anything from simple unawareness to unequal access to the internet (or even low English literacy).

Besides, everyone knows you’re “supposed” to vote on election years on the first Tuesday of November. You know it’s a thing, you (should) know why it’s important, and Americans (usually) try to honor and celebrate doing that. That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it? But can you really say the same about your average municipal survey?

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I totally agree that we need a more concise and transparent way to connect citizens, experts (consultants), and City Council together.

If some government elsewhere had similar problems and built a way to make a more inclusive process that makes you feel heard, I wonder if we could make a Raleigh-specific version of that…?

Huh, just checked in on the Dix Edge plan, and turns out there’s a survey about how they should do public engagement.

I have, on multiple occasions, been screamed at in public meetings just for even trying to speak, and I’m not at all interested in ever engaging with that format again. Same goes for asking neighborhood groups (or their 21st century equivalent, NextDoor), where 10-20 people will loudly anoint themselves as little emperors. Surveys are definitely imperfect, but they’re much more democratic.


This survey has great intentions, but I’m getting really bad vibes since they’re asking the wrong questions.

Online surveys can be biased since poorer, less educated, and/or less tech-savvy people tend to not fill them out for reasons besides choice, but this survey can’t account for that because they never ask for that information. The survey says they want “the full participation of the community it is planning for”, but it doesn’t sound like it’s built for it…

If you don’t mind, can you tell us more about this? (You can shoot me a PM if you’d prefer, but this sounds like one of those things people never think about, but should still know.)

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