City of San Marcos, CA: City receives favorable marks from citizen opinion survey

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In conjunction with the City of San Marcos’ general plan update, a citizen opinion survey was conducted by an independent research firm. The survey was done to ensure the general plan update reflects the values, priorities and concerns of all residents in the City.

A general plan is often referred to as a city’s “blueprint” for future growth and development. It has been more than 20 years since San Marcos comprehensively updated its general plan.

“The survey produced objective, statistically reliable data about residents’ opinions on a number of key issues that will be addressed in the general plan,” explained City Manager Paul Malone.

The results will be combined with information gathered through other methods like neighborhood workshops to help the City Council, City staff and the consultant team update the general plan.

Findings showed that San Marcos residents were generally quite pleased with the direction the City has taken in recent years, with 79 percent of respondents indicating that San Marcos is on the right path. This is in stark contrast to their opinions about the State of California (20%), and to a lesser extent, the County of San Diego (52%).

Better than 9 out of 10 respondents (93%) also indicated that they are satisfied with the City’s efforts to provide municipal services, and 83 percent indicated they are satisfied with the City’s efforts to communicate with them through newsletters, the Internet and other means.

“Having conducted more than 200 similar studies in California municipalities, it is worth noting that these satisfaction scores for overall performance and communication are among the better scores that my firm has encountered,” said Dr. Timothy McLarney, president of True North, the research firm that conducted the study.

Another clear theme of the survey results is that residents are focused on maintaining-rather than changing-the character of San Marcos. Nearly every resident surveyed held a favorable opinion regarding the quality of life in the City, with 89 percent rating it as excellent or good.

When asked what they would most like to change about the City, the two top responses were not sure/can’t think of anything (16%) or no improvements are needed (12%).

“Both of those responses are indicative of a respondent who does not perceive any pressing issues or problems in the City that can be addressed by local government,” explained McLarney.

Among the specific improvements that were mentioned, the most common were reducing traffic congestion, preserving open space and parkland and maintaining the City’s infrastructure.

Finally, when given the choice between no growth or moderate growth for the City’s future, two-thirds of residents indicated that they prefer moderate growth. They recognized that — if planned appropriately — growth would be positive for the City as it would bring new jobs, better shopping opportunities and improved city services. There was also widespread support for economic development initiatives, a willingness to embrace innovative transit solutions, as well as strong support for various environmental initiatives.

“It is gratifying to receive feedback like this from an independent source,” said Malone. “It shows that the City Council has a good understanding of what the community wants. It will also help keep us in sync with residents’ wishes as we plan for the future.”

A total of 400 randomly selected adult residents who are registered to vote in San Marcos participated in the survey between November 6 and 12, 2009. The telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and averaged 15 minutes in length.

The survey was conducted by True North, a full-service survey research firm located in Encinitas, California. True North has designed and conducted more than 500 survey research studies for public agencies, including more than 250 studies for California municipalities and special districts.

For more information, please contact Communications Officer Jenny Peterson at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3169 or visit

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