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Monthly Poll Gauges Support for Downtown Guards, City Hall Murals, Lobbying Ban

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By Jorge Casuso

January 31, 2023 -- A monthly push poll of "civically engaged" Santa Monica residents found few thought security patrols recently added at Downtown parking structures would "greatly" increase safety.

The Santa Monica Pulse poll of some 150 residents conducted between January 23 and 31 also found the vast majority backed the City Council's latest lobbying restrictions, while most thought the controversial murals at City Hall should stay.

Only 17 percent of those polled via text think the Downtown guards -- who are armed with cameras and tracking devices -- "will greatly increase safety," while 45 percent think they will "somewhat increase safety."

Another 28 percent don't think the guards will have an impact, while the rest weren't sure.

Under a six-month pilot program four guards will be deployed from 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. seven days a week at ten Downtown parking structures ("Guards Equipped with High Tech Begin Patrolling Public Parking Structures," January 3, 2023).

The structures -- which have been riddled with property crimes and anti-social behavior -- have been the target of frustrated Downtown property owners, including one who hung a building-sized banner that declared the area unsafe, drawing widespread media attention.

The poll also asked what should be done with two historic murals in the City Hall lobby that critics contend are "vestiges of white supremacy" ("Santa Monica Kicks Off Process to Determine Fate of City Hall Murals," January 20, 2023).

More than half -- 56 percent -- believe the murals should stay where they are, while 27 percent believe they should be moved to a museum or taken down and replaced with new artwork.

The remaining 17 percent wrote in their own answer, said Charlyce Bozzello, the communications director at the Center for Union Facts, a hotel union watchdog group that conducts the monthly poll.

"Many of these write-in comments noted that they had never seen the murals, and suspected the majority of residents also hadn’t seen them," Bozzello said.

"Some thought the city should focus on other, more pressing issues like safety."

The public will begin weighing in on the fate of the murals that have greeted visitors to City Hall since 1939 when The Reframe: City Hall Mural project kicks off with a tour February 11.

January's poll also found overwhelming support for the Council’s recent vote to ban any person who has been paid to lobby the City from being appointed to a board or commission.

In addition, the new rule bars any member of an appointed body from “simultaneously acting as a lobbyist/legislative advocate” ("Council Bars Paid Lobbyists from Boards and Commissions," January 12, 2023).

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents --74 percent -- said they support the lobbying ban, while 10 percent don't support it. Another 16 percent weren't sure.

The law passed by a 5-2 vote, with the two newest Councilmembers Jesse Zwick and Caroline Torosis voting against it.

As with previous polls, the latest Santa Monica Pulse poll was sent to nearly 1,000 residents who "previously opted in to receive more information on education efforts surrounding crime and safety in their city." It had a 15 percent response rate.

Those who wish to be included in the next poll should email their name and cell phone number to

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