News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Wildfire, traffic top citizen concerns

Residents generally feel very safe in Sisters both during the day and at night and are not worried about being a victim of crime. Those sentiments were revealed in the results of a public safety survey conducted by the City at the end of 2021.

The two most important issues for those responding to the survey were wildfire prevention (28.8 percent) and traffic safety (28 percent). The other issues ranked as follows: preserving livability — 19 percent; houseless/homeless support — 10 percent; environmental sustainability — 6.4 percent; code enforcement — 2.9 percent; noise enforcement — 2.9 percent; and “other” — 2 percent.

Most of the survey results were similar to those from the survey conducted in 2019. The biggest threat at that time (53.3 percent) was reported to be traffic safety. At 16.1 percent, the next largest threat to public safety was viewed as property crimes.

A total of 1,800 surveys were distributed to residents and businesses with City utility accounts. The City received 662 completed surveys equaling a 36.7 percent response rate. The responses will inform the City Council and their continued prioritization of local public safety. Sisters was the primary residence of 87.3 percent of the respondents. The largest percentage (37 percent) of respondents have lived in Sisters three or fewer years; 19.2 percent 20 years or more; 17 percent seven to 14 years; 15.2 percent four to seven years; and 11.9 percent 15 to 19 years.

The perceived biggest threat to public safety, both in 2019 (50.7 percent) and 2021 (53.5 percent) is traffic, by about 30 percentage points over property crimes. On a scale from 0-10, with 0 “strongly disagree” and 10 “strongly agree,” people responded to the following statements: “Sisters is a good area to raise children,” average of 8.97; “I am happy to live/work here,” average of 9.11; and “People in Sisters can be trusted,” average of 8.37.

Citizens appear to believe that the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office contracted law enforcement service is very or somewhat effective (74.9 percent).

The City Council is currently addressing the two major issues: a wildfire mitigation plan and reducing speed limits in town and installation of a roundabout at the Highway 20/Locust Street intersection.

Another public safety survey will be conducted two years from now.


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