Community members can tell City Hall what issues are most important to them through an online or paper survey until Jan. 21.
The SaMoSays survey, which opened Dec. 5, gives people who live, work, or own a business or property in Santa Monica to select five priorities they would like city government to devote more resources to. The 23 options participants can select from include keeping neighborhoods safe, mental health and transparency.
City staff will present the results of the survey to City Council at its special meeting on Saturday, Jan. 26. Council will look at how the community ranked all 23 priorities and choose about five to focus on while it develops the City’s new budget, which will take effect for two years on July 1.
The City is evolving the way it approaches the budget, said City Manager Rick Cole. Instead of allocating resources to departments, the budget will devote funds to certain outcomes that different departments work toward. The survey will help the City decide which outcomes to prioritize in the budget, Cole said.
Cole also said he hopes SaMoSays will help community members understand what the City does.
“If you ask the average community member, they may not know Santa Monica is a city, let alone who the Mayor is,” he said. “The hope is the survey will acquaint community members will the full scope of responsibilities the City undertakes.”
The seven areas that encompass all 23 outcomes derive from the City’s Wellbeing Index, a project that launched in 2015 with $1 million in funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge. Each priority in the survey falls under Place and Planet, Safety, Community, Economic Opportunity, Government, Health or Learning.
“Each (City) department has mapped out work they do as a department toward achievement of these outcomes,” said chief performance officer Tim Dodd.
However, some residents said they feel the survey’s options are too limited and don’t reflect their concerns. (Survey takers have the option to write in up to three priorities.)
Ocean Park resident Henry Rosenfeld said he feels housing affordability should be more emphasized in the survey.
“SaMo’s “commitment to sustainability and wellbeing” needs to honor how hard it’s become to afford an abode in this burg,” Rosenfeld said.
Reynold Dacon, who lives in the Noma neighborhood, said he feels the survey does not provide enough information about each priority.
“We only have vague choices that mean exactly what the Council wants them to mean,” he said. “It’s public input for form, not for substance.”
Dodd said the City has tried to make the survey easy to access online or on paper at Santa Monica libraries and encourage as many people to take it as possible.
“It’s your city,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to express their voice and shape our budget.”