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Clearwater is a pretty nice place to live, survey says

Affordable housing and downtown vibrancy remain challenges.
JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
File photo from 2015 of the setting sun near the water'ss edge on Clearwater Beach. [Tampa Bay Times (2015)]
JIM DAMASKE | Times File photo from 2015 of the setting sun near the water'ss edge on Clearwater Beach. [Tampa Bay Times (2015)]
Published Dec. 22, 2019

CLEARWATER ― The city’s downtown is struggling. It’s getting harder to find affordable housing. But overall, Clearwater is a pretty nice place to live.

These conclusions and more can be drawn from a recent city-commissioned survey of Clearwater residents about the quality of life in Tampa Bay’s third largest city.

The survey asked 504 adults dozens of questions about their experience living in Clearwater. The answers were compared to other cities around the country. The poll, which was conducted through the National Research Institute and the International City/County Management Association’s National Community Survey, cost city taxpayers $26,455.

Check out the survey here:

In response to most of the questions, Clearwater residents said they felt how most Americans do about their hometowns. Nearly four in five residents described the overall quality of life in Clearwater positively. Similarly, 81 percent of residents said they’d recommend Clearwater as a place to live. About 68 percent said they thought Clearwater had a positive image. All of those numbers were in line with national benchmarks.

The areas where the city rated less favorably were not a surprise. Just 32 percent of responders said the city offered a vibrant downtown. About 44 percent said Clearwater had a “sense of community.” Both of those figures were lower than the national benchmarks derived from other city surveys.

Related story: Clearwater wants residents downtown. This study shows why that’s not happening.

Clearwater also participated in this survey in 2008, 2014 and 2017, which gave researchers the ability to track how responses have changed over time. In 2017, 38 percent of residents said they felt Clearwater offered affordable quality housing. That number dropped to 27 percent in 2019. But still that figure is in line with the national benchmark.

In other areas of the poll, residents’ perceptions didn’t totally align with reality. About 80 percent of residents said that they vote in local elections at least sometimes. But the turnout at the most recent local election was just 57 percent ― and that was during the high-turnout 2018 midterm elections.

Related story: Clearwater voters resoundingly reject strong mayor government

Still, the survey showed that Clearwater residents are happy overall with their city. Over 80 percent of respondents rated the following items positively in the survey: the city’s public libraries; yard waste pickup service; EMS services; the fire department; Clearwater as a place to visit; the safety in their neighborhood and Clearwater as a place to retire.

The survey was conducted by mailing 3,000 forms to households all over the city. The questionnaire was offered in Spanish and English.


  1. The margin for error was four, meaning any overall percentage cited in the poll could be off by plus or minus four points.
  2. Although the responding group was not wholly representative of Clearwater, the statisticians in charge of the survey weighed the data to bring it into line with the city’s demographic numbers.

Check out the results for yourself below.


  1. Luis Espel, 22, uses the Cass Street bike lane to commute to work in Tampa. Times (2019)
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
  3. Island Estates, a neighborhood in Clearwater Bay. There are three City Council races on this year's ballot as the city prepares for the realities of climate change.
  4. A school threat circulating among students and parents in East Lake and Tarpon Springs originated in Texas on Snapchat, authorities said.
  5. Chief executive officer Rich Hume (left) is expected to remain in place following the company's sale to Apollo Global Management, but he would be eligible for a golden parachute compensation of nearly $15.4 million after he is terminated. Former chief executive officer Bob Dutkowsky (right), the executive chairman of Tech Data’s board of directors, would receive $17.3 million if Apollo lets him go. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times (2018)
  6. Zion Cemetery disappeared in the late 1920s just as the new owner built a storefront on the land. Today, hundreds of graves lie beneath the property — home to public housing apartments, warehouses and a vehicle tow lot.
  7. Penny Padgett, sister-in-law of retired Hillsborough County Judge J. Rogers Padgett Sr., looks through family pictures at her Clearwater home. Rogers Padgett, at rear, and Chip Padgett are great-grandsons of former Clearwater Mayor Robert Padgett, who donated land for use as an African American cemetery.
  8. The Clearwater city elections are March 17. Check for everything you need to know about this year's races.
  9. Clearwater voters will decide six referendum questions in this year's election. For complete coverage of Clearwater's city elections, check
  10. The process for getting into a Pinellas County school choice program is in its final phase, the "acceptance period," which expires at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 for the 2020-21 academic year.
  11. Shareholders voted Wednesday to sell Tech Data, which employs about 2,000 of its 14,000 employees in the Tampa Bay area, to Apollo Global Management for $6 billion, or $145 per share. DIRK SHADD  |  Times (2019)
  12. Three of the four candidates for mayor oppose the amphitheater proposed for the downtown waterfront as part of the Imagine Clearwater project. The nine hopefuls running for two other council seats have varying stances on the issue. The election is on March 17.