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Integrating Resident Feedback: Hermiston's Strategic Success

City of Hermiston water tower
City of Hermiston water tower


Hermiston, Oregon, with a population of about 20,000, is the largest city in Eastern Oregon. Known for its cultural diversity and dynamic growth, the city has been actively engaged in addressing a range of urban challenges. 

In February 2023, this commitment was further exemplified when the Hermiston City Council and its management team dedicated two days to their annual strategic planning retreat. This retreat was instrumental in identifying the city's key focus areas and setting realistic, community-aligned goals. It served as a vital foundation for the city staff's work in the upcoming year, ensuring that operational efforts were in alignment with the strategic objectives that emerged from this collaborative and insightful engagement.

The Challenge

Beyond the engagement of city staff, Hermiston faced the challenge of integrating resident feedback into its strategic planning. The city aimed to both educate the community on strategic priorities as well as assess performance across several key areas, including Workforce Development, Transportation, Housing, City Facilities, and Wellness, ensuring that the city's growth aligns with and even exceeds residents' expectations. There was, therefore, a need for more granular and localized resident feedback.

The Zencity Solution

In response to this challenge, Hermiston introduced a multifaceted engagement approach using the Zencity 360 platform. This approach was designed to capture a wide array of concerns and priorities from residents, ranging from specific neighborhood issues to broader community-wide challenges. It marked a significant step towards more nuanced and localized urban governance. Hermiston deployed 3 complementary tools:
  • Zencity Community Survey: This tool was essential in gathering representative resident feedback across a range of quality-of-life topics. The results were presented to the City Council to inform Council priorities and support policy formulation.
    • Key results from the survey indicated both areas of concern in need of attention and improvement, including Housing, Arts and Culture, and Public Safety. Alongside areas for which residents showed increased satisfaction, such as Parks and Recreation, Sense of Community, and Pedestrian Accessibility.

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  • Zencity Engage: Zencity’s Engage tool enabled Hermiston to deploy monthly targeted surveys focusing on each council priority, offering a deeper dive into specific community concerns and preferences, including homelessness, housing, facilities, wellness and others.
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  • Zencity Organic: allowed the city to observe and analyze ongoing online public discourse from a multitude of sources in one platform. Additionally, Zencity provided Hermiston with insight reports that shed light on key topics that came up in the discourse, highlighting real-time community sentiment.

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The Impact

The city’s multifaceted approach to community engagement around its planning and development has helped Hermiston focus its efforts and resources on areas that matter most to residents. By using both proactive (i.e., community survey and engagement sites) and passive (i.e., online channels monitoring) methods to obtain feedback, the city was able to hear from a broader range of residents and dive deeper into the most pressing issues and priorities, including housing, public safety, workforce development, and use of city facilities.

Based on the engagement results, the city administration developed a budget amendment package that included funding for three additional police officers while filling in other gaps. The surveys showed high levels of support for adding funding to the police department by drawing in additional revenue across multiple sources (businesses, visitors, residents). Using the results of the online survey and public testimony, the City Council approved the recommended budget.

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Following this process, Hermiston was able to continue and track the performance of services and initiatives over time. Housing and workforce development has been a high priority for the City Council for a number of years, and even though progress has been made, there is still a public interest in creating more opportunities.

The results of these engagements are reviewed annually to track changes in public sentiment and perception and are factored into presentations to the Council.

Join hundreds of local government organizations already leveraging community feedback with Zencity.

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