Frisco residents push for affordable housing, sustainability in community survey

The town hall is pictured in Frisco on Thursday, April 2, 2020.
Liz Copan /

FRISCO — Frisco residents asked officials to prioritize workforce housing and environmental sustainability in a recent survey conducted by the town.

In March, Frisco pushed out a comprehensive quality of life survey to residents hoping to get vital feedback to inform the town’s direction into the future. Residents — and even a few out-of-towners — got a chance to voice opinions and concerns about everything from safety, community design, governance, health and more.

Overall, respondents said Frisco was great. At least 96% of residents rated the town as good or excellent in regards to its overall image, the overall quality of life and as Frisco as a place to live.

“Our community says, across the board, that they love living here and that in general there’s a lot to be proud of,” said Town Manager Nancy Kerry, during a presentation to the Town Council Tuesday evening. “… I’ve done this survey at communities I’ve worked in before. I’ve seen the survey results for 20 years. These are outstanding results.”

The survey was conducted by the National Community Survey — a collaboration by the National Research Center, Inc. and the International City/County Management Association — which distributed 1,700 survey cards to households in Frisco, along with an online survey. There were 731 respondents, of which 93% were part- or full-time residents.

Kerry noted that some results may have been affected differently had the survey been conducted later into the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly in areas pertaining to the economy or health and wellness — but that ultimately it still provides a good snapshot into the public’s priorities and perceptions.

Frisco residents pointed to increasing workforce housing units and environmental sustainability as their top priorities. Only about 15% of respondents said the availability of affordable housing was good, and about 82% voiced a desire to increase workforce housing. And while the town scored high marks in environmental areas, 80% of community members said sustainability should remain a top concern.

Of note, council discussed those issues at greater length earlier in the meeting. The topic of housing was brought up during a final update on the town’s 2019-20 strategic plan, and work remains.

“Our five-year effort to adopt a strategic housing plan was not (completed) as identified in the strategic plan,” Kerry said. “While we had ideas to get that done, I think it’s a bigger effort than what we initially took off to do. … That’s an effort that if council wants to continue to work on that we would need to prioritize that higher as we move into the next year.”

The town also continues to be proactive in meetings its sustainability goals. At the meeting, Frisco entered into a new memorandum of understanding with Xcel Energy, allowing the two to cooperatively strategize to create a pathway for a net-zero town.

The agreement, called the Energy Future Collaboration, would essentially see both parties meet quarterly to discuss strategies around improving energy efficiency, emission reduction goals, electrification, data access and more. Breckenridge signed onto a similar agreement in 2018.

“This is essentially a formalization of the relationship that is currently going on with Xcel and with the town of Frisco to help us meet our net-zero goals,” said Gilly Plog, the town’s Environmental Programs coordinator. “… It would be great to have our utility provider on board when it comes to executing those goals.”

Survey respondents gave the town mostly positive feedback in areas like mobility (94% rated Frisco’s transportation system as good or excellent), along with overall appearance (93%), safety (97%), and the quality of parks and recreation opportunities (94%). Economic health (92%) and overall health and wellness opportunities (90%) also got good reviews, but it remains to be seen how the pandemic has changed perceptions.

Though, in addition to affordable housing, residents also emphasized that there were other issues in town. Cost of living (30%), availability of affordable mental health care (37%), and availability of affordable child care (31%) stand out as some of the worst offenders.

Looking at the result holistically, council members felt the results showed that they largely shared the same vision of Frisco as its residents.

“Its helpful and enlightening that we’re not that far disconnected from the community,” said Council Member Jessica Burley. “We felt — at least during my first term — that we were, and I think it was a lack of any kind of strategic plan and action-oriented goals that was making us feel that way.

“But we thought we had a good handle on what the community wanted, and I think this really shows that we are in tune with what they are saying.”

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