City to survey community on City Hall needs

City to survey community on City Hall needs
Community members should be receiving a survey by the end of January for their input on replacing City Hall. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — City officials are working to create a survey to find out if the rest of the community agrees with input from about 40 people who attended a meeting focused on replacing City Hall.

 

Participants were asked at a Dec. 2 workshop where a new civic center should be located, what it should include and how it should be paid for and implemented.

Keeping it where the current City Hall is at 1050 Camino del Mar was identified as the first choice for location, with a private office building near Ninth Street ranked second. Most participants indicated the Shores property should not be considered an option.

Workshop participants generally agreed a new civic center must include administrative office space and a town hall/council chambers. There was also interest in having public parking, open spaces or plazas and conference or meeting rooms as part of the complex.

The majority of attendees rated a public/private partnership or bond financing as preferred funding options, with the city’s traditional pay-as-you-go method ranked as the least desirable.

The only consensus on implementation was to move the project forward. Most participants said the other decisions should be made before an implementation plan is selected.

Staff members used all the information to create a sample survey that was presented to council members at the Dec. 9 meeting.

According to the six-page document, the survey was slated to take between 15 and 30 minutes to complete.

It includes background information, the options selected at the workshop and space for alternative answers.

“I think the survey needs work,” Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said, noting that it was too wordy. “If it went on a nice big diet and focused on 10 questions then I think we’ve got something that might be useful.”

Her colleagues agreed it was too lengthy, and Councilman Don Mosier had additional concerns. He said respondents should be given cost estimates before making decisions.

“I don’t want to go six months from now having a big backlash when we start getting … estimates and everybody says, ‘Well, this is a great idea but it costs way too much,’” Mosier said. “I want to try to address that potential problem as much as possible up front.”

Parks also said she didn’t understand why the Shores property would be included as a location option when workshop participants basically labeled it taboo.

“I think it’s confusing to send that kind of survey out,” she said.

She also said she would like the format to appear less biased by alphabetizing answer options.

“It didn’t appear to be very neutral to me,” she said. “It was almost like it was set up to get the answer that we got at the workshop.”

Councilman Al Corti disagreed. “I don’t think it’s gearing them,” he said. Corti suggested telling survey respondents the information came from a small group of people who attended the workshop.

“The overriding direction, consensus of the workshop was, ‘Get on with it,’” Corti said. “Let’s move forward. Give the public the opportunity to have their same opinion as the 40 or so that showed up at the workshop.

“There was broad consensus … but I think we need to open it up to the rest of the public to get a sense of that,” he said. “I think that’s the most important thing we can do and the sooner we do it the better.”

Council members directed staff to refine the survey so it takes 10 to 12 minutes to complete. Planning Director Kathy Garcia suggested eliminating the implementation questions since there was no consensus on that issue.

A new survey will be presented to council at the Jan. 6 meeting, with a goal to distribute it to the community by the end of that month.

 

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