CRESTVIEW — The Crestview City Council discussed ways to educate city residents about the importance of clearly displaying physical address numbers on residences and businesses March 26 at its monthly workshop.

The 2020 national census is on the horizon, which means census workers will need to go door-to-door to poll anyone who does not return their census form in the mail. In 2010, only 72 percent of the nation’s households mailed in their form, around the same percentage as in 2000.

The importance of properly displaying address numbers isn’t limited to making it easier for census workers find houses. They're also key for emergency workers looking for people in trouble. It can be difficult for first responders like firefighters and emergency medical technicians to find a house when trees obscure the address numbers or they're missing altogether.

“The highest priority we need to concentrate on is the physical placement of the addresses on the structures,” Growth Management Director Teresa Gaillard said. “It’s extremely important to emergency services.”

Address numbers need to be displayed in the proper physical location, in contrasting colors and be clearly visible from the roadway.

“Unfortunately, we have been out in the field and a good 70 percent are not readable,” Gaillard said.

The city is addressing the problem of odd and even numbers being on the same side of a street, half-number addresses and people making up or assuming their address number when none is clearly displayed, Gaillard said.

City Clerk Betsy Roy put forward an idea for educating residents through the social media accounts of the various city departments like police and fire, as well as sending out a mailer in city water bills.

Another issue discussed was updating road signs to be retroreflective in order to make them more clearly visible. The city’s Public Services Department is working to update all street signs throughout the city, but according to Gaillard it could be up to five more years before the project is complete.

Public Services Director Wayne Steele said the cost is more than $18 per street sign to bring each one up to the new retroreflectivity standards, nearly double the cost from only a few years ago.