ESCONDIDO — The Escondido City Council has approved a consulting agreement with a research firm to conduct a survey of residents’ satisfaction with city services and get feedback on what can be improved.
The $31,500 agreement with True North Research, Inc., calls for a survey of about 600 adult residents of Escondido, as well as a shorter series of questions directed at the city’s youth.
This study is the second phase of an earlier survey effort that gauged support of a one-cent sales tax increase in the city of Escondido for the November 2020 ballot. The results of that poll, which were presented to the council three months ago, showed out of a sample of more than 1,000 registered voters in the city limits, 65% supported the proposed sales tax hike.
A one-cent tax increase would bring in as much as $25 million that would cover anticipated budget shortfalls that are connected to rising pension costs in the coming years, as well as fund other projects.
The plan is for the “phase two” survey to leave aside the funding question and only ask residents what they would like to see in their city, according to Assistant City Manager Jay Petrek.
“The survey would offer an opportunity for the residents to do some visioning,” Petrek said. “And because there wouldn’t be the constraints of how we’re going to pay for it, you would get feedback from them on how satisfied they are with the services that are being provided.”
Petrek said the conduct the survey in both English and Spanish, both over the phone and by email, and will ensure it polls various population groups in Escondido to get an accurate snapshot of the city.
“There will be clusters of men, women, age groups, income levels and so forth” in the sample, he said.
Council members John Masson and Consuelo Martinez will sit on an ad hoc subcommittee to work with city staff and the consultant in developing the specific questions.
Councilwoman Olga Diaz, who sat on the subcommittee for the previous survey, offered suggestions for possible topics.
“When we talk about the library, we came up with the idea of a central library in the park, but through another process, we discovered that perhaps people want decentralized library services with multiple locations,” Diaz said. “So, I would like some clarity on that so that we have proper public feedback, since our vision might not be in full sync with the public.”
She also mentioned satisfaction with public safety and other city services, as well as recreational activities for children and teenagers in the city, as possible items to cover.
“It’s a very common thing to hear that there’s no place for our kids to go, but that’s a vague statement, so I’d like to know maybe what they would want to go to, besides the movies or the theater or a park or the mall,” Diaz said. “So, go off on a tangent on youth issues where they’re giving us guidance on what we should be working on rather than us just telling them, ‘we’re gonna build skate spots,’ right? Maybe that’s not what they want, we have to ask.”
Petrek said work with the consultant is expected to begin in February, and the adult survey will be conducted after the primary election in March over several weeks, followed by the smaller youth survey.
The council approved the agreement with the research firm unanimously.