The City of Santa Monica periodically conducts surveys of its residents to find out their concerns and to gauge how the City is responding to their needs. Goodwin Simon Victoria Research conducted the latest survey in January 2009 with 430 residents.They found that just as in 2007 when the last survey was done, traffic and homelessness are still the top resident concerns. The next biggest issue was growth and development, and concern about economic issues were also on the rise due to the recession. Other issues that were mentioned by residents were affordable housing, the lack of parking, crime, gangs, the environment, overcrowding, and education.When it came to City services residents were the most dissatisfied with the City’s dealings with the homeless population and traffic. They also gave the City low ratings for enforcing City ordinances related to homelessness, such as laws against aggressive panhandling and begging, and the ban against overnight camping in parks and doorways. Survey participants were also asked to rank City services for funding priority by the City due to the budget constraints being presented by the recession. The services that received the highest priority were emergency preparedness, services for seniors, services for youth, traffic reduction, homeless services, and library services. Priority, though not as high, was also given to environmental programs, recreation and sports programs, and street and sidewalk maintenance. The lowest priorities were for funding for non-profit organizations in Santa Monica and tree trimming.Residents also ranked the six services the City is thinking of incorporating in the update of the Land Use and Circulation Elements (LUCE) of the City’s General Plan. The highest priority was protecting neighborhoods, followed by reducing traffic congestion, encouraging more alternatives to driving, having ongoing public involvement in planning for the future of Santa Monica, having more affordable housing, and encouraging walking-distance services such as cleaners and food stores.A majority of those surveyed felt they were given the opportunity by the City to voice their concerns on major community decisions and the City’s effort to communicate with them through various means. The key sources of information for City news and information being used by those surveyed were the City’s website, and the City’s Seascape newsletter. Rankings from residents were very high for the use of City parks and beaches and for the City providing art or cultural events. When the survey participants were asked if they were aware of their Santa Monica Police Department’s neighborhood resource officer, very few said yes. However, there was a very high satisfaction with the City’s 911 services and response time. Santa Monica’s Planning Commission briefly discussed the survey at their April 1 meeting. The City Council will be having a study session about the survey results this coming Tuesday.
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