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Survey results are in, Del Marians are satisfied

52 percent of the 450 residents surveyed were ‘somewhat satisfied’

DEL MAR — Del Mar residents are pretty happy with the way the city is being run, but most feel officials are not doing a very good job communicating with them, according to an online survey conducted from Nov. 20 through Jan. 12.

Of the 450 people who responded, 52 percent reported being somewhat satisfied and 25 percent indicated they were very satisfied when asked how Del Mar is doing overall to provide city services.

Nearly 20 percent said they were either very or somewhat dissatisfied.

Repairing streets, crime prevention and encouraging a more vibrant downtown business are ranked as services that should be prioritized. Adding new recreational opportunities rated low on the list.

When it comes to maintaining streets and roads, respondents are somewhat split, with 52 percent indicating satisfaction and about 43 percent saying they are dissatisfied.

The city received high marks in most other areas, such as providing trash collection and recycling services (92 percent satisfaction) and maintaining the beach (83 percent), Powerhouse Community Center and the library (85 percent), other city-owned properties (78 percent) and landscaped medians (77 percent).

Public safety services provided by the city, including fire protection (74 percent), lifeguards (82 percent) and parking enforcement (67 percent), also fared well, with more than half of the respondents in each category saying they are very or somewhat satisfied.

About 60 percent of Del Marians said the same about the ranger services. As for the Sheriff’s Department, 54, 67 and 51 percent, respectively, are satisfied with the enforcement of traffic laws, crime prevention and visibility in the community. Only 31 percent are satisfied with response times.

More than half of those taking the survey indicated satisfaction with administrative services, such as addressing and responding to resident inquiries and concerns. But only 43 percent gave high marks to the development and design review process.

Nearly 24 percent said the city could provide better information and be more transparent, while 21 percent said better government officials are needed to improve administrative services. Two percent opposed replacing city hall.

Most respondents, 84 percent, said they learn about what’s happening in the city by reading local newspapers, and 98 percent said the city could do a better job communicating with residents.

If the city had more money to improve services, 47 percent of respondents said it should be spent on fire protection, while 45 percent indicated it should go toward law enforcement. Street maintenance and sidewalk improvements also rated high, garnering support from 43 percent and 27 percent of respondents, respectively.

The final question was open-ended, giving people a chance to provide additional comments. Almost 28 percent said Del Mar is a great place to live.

“The one thing that they wanted to get off their chests was positive,” said Adam Probolsky of Probolsky Research, which conducted the survey.

He also said 450 participants in a small community like Del Mar, with about 4,200 residents including children, “is remarkably high.”

At the start of the Feb. 2 meeting, when the results were presented, a few residents said they were “appalled” and it was “totally disgusting” and “inappropriate” that political affiliation was included in the results, although it did not identify the party with actual person who took the survey.

The question was not asked as part of the survey and was included in the results because it was provided by the registrar of voters.

Council members who hadn’t yet seen it said they would not look at it and asked that it be removed from the results posted online.

Council members and staff said they would analyze the results, which can be viewed on the city website, to determine who to improve city services.

City Manager Scott Huth said department heads are already looking at comments specific to their departments.