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Since the 1990s, the city of Monterey regularly asks residents every two years to let City Hall know how it's doing.

The city is doing it again this month, but differently.

During the week of Jan. 14-21, some 1,200 residents, who have been selected randomly, will be mailed copies of a five-page survey designed to gauge their thoughts on Monterey's quality of life and quality of services. They are to be notified by postcard next week.

"This one is a little different," city spokeswoman Anne McGrath said Thursday.

In past years, the city sent out surveys essentially to every resident by way of its newsletter. The return was typically a small number, from 300 to 600 respondents.

This year's survey is going to a sample of residents, and it is being done by the National Research Center Inc. of Boulder, Colo. The survey budget is $10,000.

The company has done similar surveys in hundreds of communities, and the results will not only provide a statistically valid measure of city services, but will compare Monterey's ratings to other cities throughout the country, officials say.

"It's a national template," McGrath said.

The results will give city officials details not only about how Monterey residents view the city, but how residents of similar cities would rank their own communities.

The survey asks residents to rank specific services such as those for seniors and youth, street cleaning and recycling.


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It also asks respondents to characterize the sense of community and its aspects, including job opportunities, ease of car travel, public safety, growth and the value of taxes paid to the city.

The results will enable each city department to measure its performance and cost-effectiveness.

McGrath said the survey, similar to one done by the same firm last year for Seaside, promises "a lot of detailed information."

Preliminary results should be ready by March, she said.

The survey will be mailed to selected households twice, but should be filled out only once by anyone in the household older than 18, city officials say. The city hopes at least 400 will be returned, McGrath said.

"The city ... wants to hear from our residents," Mayor Chuck Della Sala said in a prepared statement. "That's why I encourage everyone who receives the survey ... to fill it out and return it."