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Misrepresentation


In “Planning Santa Barbara’s Future to Preserve its Past,” [Voices, Nov. 15], Judith D. Orias and Sheila Lodge clearly demonstrate the power of statistics to manipulate and deceive. They assert that their so-called survey shows that “Santa Barbarans want to preserve the small-town feel and the aesthetic qualities of the city. They are concerned about growth and its negative effects, and want to restrict it.” In other words, Santa Barbarans are anti-growth and unsupportive of its working population that can’t afford a home in this crazy market. Supposedly we support no-growth regulations that severely limit the building of higher density, affordable green homes. Their survey demonstrates only one thing: if you pick a small, unrepresentative group, you can get your survey to say anything you want. First, the authors fail to mention the small number of people which participated in their straw poll. A summary of the survey posted on the city’ planning website suggests the number was about 120. Further inspection reveals that the self-selected group participating in the poll in no way reflects the general makeup of the city’s population. 93 percent were homeowners and elderly people. So Lodge and Orias’s assertion that their poll represents the general desires of our community is a twisting of the truth. The document post on the city’s website suggests a much more intelligent conclusion: the city’s need for a more systematic scientific survey of its population to ascertain its desire for future growth. -R. Lee Kaplan



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