Santa Monica City Council Preview: Resident Survey, Big Blue Bus, Bike Sharing

Monday, 23 Sep 2013, 8:14:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Height restriction. Density. Community benefits. How much – or how little – of each do Santa Monica residents desire when a new development comes to town? A satisfactory answer to each and all of those questions might be elusive, but a research firm could be hired to determine whether any sort of consensus exists among Santa Monica residents.

Up for a vote Tuesday is a consent calendar item where council members will decide whether to hire Godbe Research to conduct a resident survey on future development.

If approved, Godbe Research will receive $32,135 from City Hall “to gauge the public’s opinion on matters related to future development.”

The firm will ask selected residents about their views on building height, density, community benefits, and concern of each proposed project’s impacts.

“The results of the survey would provide the Council with information regarding residents’ opinions about the height and density of new buildings in the downtown, and the level of community benefits and project amenities that would be appropriate for projects that seek to exceed height limits,” City staff stated.

Also to be asked in the survey, according to City staff, is whether residents would be amenable to taller buildings if developed for “desired uses,” such as affordable housing, provides significant open space, or helps mitigate congestion issues.

“The survey questions would also ask residents what benefits they wish to see in new downtown development projects,” City staff added.

According to City staff, 14 firms submitted proposals to be selected for the resident survey.

Godbe Research has conducted more than 2,500 public opinion surveys for California local government clients since 1990, City staff stated. The firm conducted five surveys for Santa Monica since 1998, including an Internet survey of residents for the General Plan in 2005 and a rent control study in 2006.

At City Hall’s request, the League of Women Voters – Santa Monica will act as an impartial observer of the survey. According to City staff, the group will merely observe the process of how the survey is conducted; it will not play a role in developing the actual survey.

Council members will also vote on signing onto a “Charter for Compassion,” which, according to City staff, is “a document that would be based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect, with the Golden Rule at its ethical core.”

More than 98,000 individuals and organizations have signed onto the Charter for Compassion as of last month, City staff stated.

The Big Blue Bus (BBB) might take up a significant amount of time Sept. 24, as three agenda items are dedicated to Santa Monica’s public transit system. Council members will vote on fare policy, budget changes, and guidelines for service design, performance, and evaluation.

Also up for a vote: whether Route 11 should be eliminated and Route 44 be truncated.

Finally, council members will be discussing and potentially acting upon the implementation of a bike sharing program.

Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.