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Del Mar City Council holds off on conducting citizen satisfaction survey

By Kristina Houck

Del Mar residents will have to wait to share their thoughts on city services through a survey — for now.

After agreeing that a consultant’s proposal wasn’t worth the money, the City Council on April 7 decided against approving a contract for a citywide citizen satisfaction survey.

If approved, the contract would have awarded Probolsky Research up to $15,000 to survey 125 people by phone to measure the city’s performance and assess the community’s needs. The contract would have also included a shortened mail and Internet survey component.

“We’re spending a modest sum to get a very imprecise survey,” said Councilman Don Mosier. “I think, scientifically, this is a waste of money. It’s just not a big enough survey to have any precision.

“It’s not a very good baseline survey. If you look back at the old survey, it wasn’t very informative and it asked more people more questions. We’re going to now spend less money to get less precision … I have trouble spending this amount of money for this little information.”

The city last conducted a survey in 2006. Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin and Associates conducted 245 phone interviews with randomly selected Del Mar voters. The survey found that 96 percent of respondents believed the quality of life in Del Mar to be excellent or good. Only 4 percent said the quality of life was just fair or poor.

An advocate of a citizen satisfaction survey, Councilman Terry Sinnott encouraged his colleagues to continue to pursue other alternatives.

“We have received input from various people on various topics that we’ve got really good service, really bad service or something in between,” Sinnott said. “Any service organization, which I think this is a service organization, needs to periodically check in with its customers. … I think we owe it to the community.”

Staff will return to the council at a later date with alternatives.