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Union Watchdog Poll Gauges Voters' Take on Crime, Proposed Hotel Ordinance

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By Jorge Casuso

August 5, 2019 -- A poll of likely Santa Monica voters conducted last month found that crime and the City's homeless strategy remain concerns.

The poll of 283 likely voters -- conducted by Eyes on Local 11, a hotel union watchdog -- also found most respondents favor a proposal that requires Santa Monica hotels to provide workers with panic buttons.

Support for a proposal to regulate work schedules and the number of rooms cleaned gained less support when voters were informed of the potential impacts, according to the survey.

The proposals are part of an ordinance -- unanimously backed by the City Council in October -- that is expected to be approved this month ("City to Draft Groundbreaking Ordinance Protecting Santa Monica Hotel Workers from Sexual Violence," October 26, 2018).

"The Council is consumed with the ordinance, but that's not what people in town are concerned with," said Charlyce Bozzello, communications manager at the Center for Union Facts, which runs Eyes on Local 11.

"Based on what they're prioritizing, (the Council) seems a little distracted," Bozzello said. "We're wondering when the City is going to be focusing on other more pressing issues that are getting less attention."

The telephone survey, conducted between July 23 and 25, focused on homelessness, crime and the key provisions of the proposed ordinance.

Asked about their perception of the City's strategy to address the homeless crisis, 12.4 percent of the respondents thought the strategy has been "effective," while 57.6 said it has been "ineffective." The other 30 percent said they were unsure.

The poll also gauged the respondents' perception of safety.

Of those surveyed, 56.2 percent said they felt safe in the city's public spaces, including public parks and the beach, while 36.8 percent said they felt unsafe. Six percent were unsure, while 1 percent refused to answer.

Asked if they felt their "personal risk of being the victim of a crime has changed over the last year," 42.4 percent said they feel "less safe," 8.1 percent said they feel "more safe" and 47.4 percent said their perception had not changed.

The survey also asked, "Have you or someone close to you -- including a family member, a friend, or a neighbor -- been the victim of a crime in the past year?"

Of the respondents, 29.3 percent said yes, 67 percent said no and 1.7 percent said they were undecided.

The survey then gauged the likely voters' perception of the key provision of the ordinance meant to protect housekeepers from sexual harassment and heavy workloads.

The survey found most respondents favored a proposal "to mandate hotels in Santa Monica provide workers with panic-buttons."

Of the respondents, 52.3 percent said they supported the proposal, 23.3 said they did not support it and 22.7 percent were unsure. The remaining 1.8 percent refused to answer.

Those surveyed also were asked if they supported regulating hotel housekeepers' work schedules and the amount of rooms they cleaned.

The question noted that "one study found these regulations could result in less hours worked by employees -- or even layoffs -- by increasing housekeeping costs "by between 32 to 65 percent a

Asked if they supported the measure "knowing these tradeoffs," 17.3 percent said yes, 35 percent said no and 43 percent were unsure. The other 4.6 percent refused to answer.

Released in May, the report prepared for the Hotel Association of Los Angeles found the proposed law could hurt the housekeepers it intends to help and deal a blow to Santa Monica's thriving hotel industry ("Proposed Santa Monica Law to Protect Hotel Housekeepers Could Backfire, Report Says," May 21, 2019).

The report also found that all the hotels interviewed already provide or were in the process of procuring panic buttons, which "appear to be an emerging standard in the industry."

The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.

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