December 18, 2007

City Council Gets Report on Revenue Measure Feasibility Survey

From November 7 to 11, 2007, Godbe Research conducted a telephone survey of 400 San Leandro voters. The purpose of the survey, commissioned by the City of San Leandro, was to assess the use of the San Leandro Shoreline Recreation Area, assess voter awareness of the harbor and its dredging needs, determine voter support for a parcel tax to support the boat harbor, prioritize community issues based on voter response, and identify differences in responses due to demographic and/or voter behavioral characteristics.

The results of the survey were presented at the December 17, 2007, meeting of the San Leandro City Council. Councilmember Jim Prola summed up the conclusion of the survey at the meeting as "It's clear to me that residents want to keep the Marina [boat harbor] open, they just don't want to pay for it."

Support for a parcel tax $60 per parcel was 49% of voters who said that they would definitely or probably support such a tax. Support increased as the amount of the tax per parcel decreased, from 50% support at $52 per parcel, 56% at $44 per parcel, 60% support at $36 per year to 66% support at $28 per parcel. Godbe noted that even at $28 per parcel, in order for the tax to succeed in an election, it would have to be a perfect campaign, which occur, but very infrequently. This was the portion of the survey covered in Monday's Daily Review article.

Some of the more interesting results include the results for the question "In your opinion, what is the single, most important issue facing San Leandro in the next five years?" Public schools/education was cited by 21% of the respondents, with growth and development cited by 15% and public safety (including crime) cited by 14%. The closure of the boat harbor was cited by just 2% of the respondents.

To gauge voter priorities, the survey asked, "For each issue, please tell me if it is very important, somewhat important or not important to you personally." Reducing crime was the frequent response, cited by 89% of respondents as very important, followed by improving the quality of education at 83% and maintaining streets and roads at 76%. The item cited by the least number of the respondents was keeping the boat harbor open and maintained, at 27%.

The survey cost $19,230 and it was based on a total population of 30,311 likely November 2008 voters. The survey did not include eligible voters who are not registered or registered voters who were not considered likely to vote in the November 2008 election.

Of the 400 respondents, 62% were caucasian/white, 10% were Hispanic/Latino, 10% were Asian-American, and 8% were African-American/Black. Only 7% of the respondents owned a boat. The respondents were 61% Democrat and 18% Republican and 70% were homeowners.

Bo Johanson and Audrey Albers were both critical of the survey, noting that neither of them knew someone who participated in the survey. Johanson said that the survey should have focused solely on the Marina and should have been mailed to all residents. Godbe responded that mail surveys are not as accurate. Albers said that "I have no confidence in it" but acknowledged that she had not seen the report. Lou Filipovich, a former Republican nominee for the California State Senate, said that he agreed with all of the comments made by Johanson and Albers.

The City Council voted 6-0 to accept the report. Vice Mayor Surlene Grant was not present at the meeting.

Here are the summary results from Godbe:

December 6, 2007
TO: Cynthia Battenberg, Assistant to the City Manager, City of San Leandro
FROM: Bryan Godbe, M.A., President
Amelia Caine, Ph.D., Senior Research Manager
RE: City of San Leandro Revenue Measure Feasibility Survey

Godbe Research is pleased to present the summary results of a survey conducted for the City of San Leandro. A total of 400 voters who reside in San Leandro participated in the study, and telephone interviews took place from November 7 to November 11, 2007. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus 4.9 percent.

A majority of voters are aware of the boat harbor; however, it is among the relatively least used features of the Shoreline Recreation Area by voter households .

  • Approximately 87 percent of voters are aware that the Marina has a boat harbor, and 59 percent are aware of the need to dredge the boat harbor and a two-mile channel leading to the central bay.
  • Although voters widely know about the boat harbor, only 12 percent of voter households have used the harbor within the past 12 months and only 7 percent have used the boat launch ramp.
  • The features with the relatively highest use by voter households are the restaurants (74%); Shoreline trails, walking paths, and parcourse (71 %); and the play areas and picnic facilities (54%).

Overall, keeping the boat harbor open and maintained is a relatively low priority for San Leandro voters:

  • When asked to name the most important issue facing San Leandro, the voters surveyed most frequently mentioned public schools and education (21 %), growth and development (15%), and public safety (14%). In contrast, the boat harbor was mentioned by just 2 percent of voters.
  • When read a list of 10 issues, voters rated reducing crime, improving the quality of public education, and maintaining streets and roads as the relatively most important. In contrast, the boat harbor was rated as the relatively least important issue.

The results indicate that the City of San Leandro should not move forward with placing a parcel tax measure on the ballot to fund keeping the boat harbor open and maintained.

  • Without any mention of the funding source, 75 percent of voters support a plan to keep the boat harbor open and maintained
  • However, support for the spending of City funds to keep the boat harbor open and maintained is significantly lower, at 68 percent.
  • Finally, only 49 percent of voters support a $60 parcel tax measure to fund the dredging and maintenance of the boat harbor.
  • Although a majority of voters support a plan to keep the boat harbor open and maintained, there is not sufficient voter support to fund this plan with a tax increase.

The staff report by Cynthia Battenberg, follows below.




DATE: December 11, 2007
TO: John Jermanis, City Manager
FROM: Steve Hollister, Assistant City Manager
BY: Cynthia Battenberg, Assistant to the City Manager



The City of San Leandro retained Godbe Research (Godbe) for polling services to evaluate public support for the boat harbor. Godbe collected data in early November 2007 and will present the detailed results at the December 17, 2007 City Council meeting. Staff recommends City Council make a motion to accept Godbe Research's Revenue Measure Feasibility Survey report. No further action is required.


The Shoreline-Marina Committee has been meeting monthly since its formation in January 2007 to discuss the future of the boat harbor and development of the approximately 40 acre opportunity site. The City held two Town Hall meetings to share information and gain public input on how to fund the approximately $2 million annual shortfall and what type of development citizens would like to see at the Shoreline-Marina Area.

To assist the City in evaluating public and registered voter support for a revenue measure to fund the annual shortfall in the boat harbor's budget, the City retained Godbe. Godbe is a full-service public opinion research agency with extensive experience in public opinion research for ballot measures, community needs assessments, public education, and strategic planning efforts. Godbe is a certified WEE and registered small business and completed a public opinion poll "Survey of Residents" for the City of San Leandro in 2000.

A task force of the Shoreline-Marina Committee, which included Mayor Santos and Councilmember Starosciak, reviewed the survey questions prior to data collection. The survey was approximately 12 minutes in length. Data collection occurred in early November 2007 with calls typically between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Although the main survey questions focused around support for a revenue measure, the survey also included general questions regarding what people liked best about San Leandro, what they thought San Leandro's challenges were, and which issues were of greatest concern to them. The survey questionnaire is included in Appendix C of the report.

The summary results are included in Godbe's memo which is attached. The report, excluding Appendix D: Crosstabulation Tables, is also attached. A bound copy of the full report was distributed to Councilmembers under separate cover and will be made available to the public on the City's website. A copy will also be made available at the main Library and Mulford Branch library along with Environmental Science Associate's Opportunities and Constraints Analysis of the San Leandro Marina.

Current City Council Policy - N/A

Previous City Council Action(s) - N/A

City Council Committee Review and Action - On November 13, 2007, the City Council Shoreline - Marina Committee received an update on the City of San Leandro 2007 Revenue Measure Feasibility Survey.

Applicable General Plan Policy - N/A

Permits and/or Variances Granted - N/A

Environmental Review - N/A

Code Compliance Review - N/A

Board/Commission Findings - N/A

Summary of Public Outreach Efforts - N/A

Fiscal Impact - The Shoreline Enterprise Fund covered the $19,230 cost of the survey.

Budget Authority - N/A

Attachments - N/A


Staff recommends City Council make a motion to accept Godbe Research's Revenue Measure Feasibility Survey report.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at December 18, 2007 3:41 PM | TrackBack

The city council needs to spend $20K to find out that sub-par schools and crime are the towns two biggest concerns? I've been telling them that for the past 7 years!

Marina needs to be developed, period; and the dough to bankroll the dredging needs to come from that. Only a town run by socialist anti biz-dev out of touch fuddy-duddies can't develop prime waterfront real estate in the Bay. San-sense Santos was quoted as saying he'd been approached by businesses wanting to go out there, but he didn't want to hear it because they "didn't have a track record in town."

Of course for Santos, taxing San Leandreans is his first priority--no matter the issue.

Posted by: Frank at December 18, 2007 4:19 PM
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