City Poll Reveals Majority in Favor of Phone Tax

Results Mostly From Older, Richer, Whiter Residents, However

More than 60 percent of Santa Barbara’s older, whiter and wealthier residents indicated they were inclined to support the Utility User Tax, which the City of Santa Barbara is placing on this November’s ballot. The tax, which has been in effect since 1979, generates $6 million a year; half of that goes to road repairs and the rest goes to the city’s general fund.

Santa Barbara is asking voters to approve the measure to protect this revenue source from possible legal challenges mounted by the wireless industry. Of 500 voters surveyed between June 8 and 11 - 65 percent of whom had lived in Santa Barbara for at least 20 years, 72 percent of which were white, 70 percent of which owned their own homes, and 61 percent of which were 50 years old or older - nearly half were inclined to support the measure without much background information. That number jumped to 73 percent when provided with arguments in favor, and then dropped to 63 percent when provided with arguments against. While the survey results - which cost City Hall $30,000 - were encouraging to local politicos, there remains no committee to raise funds and campaign on behalf of the measure. Local officials are hoping the police and fire fighters union will take a lead role.

When asked to list the biggest challenges facing the community, 33 percent said gang violence, 24 the state budget cut, and 21 percent said traffic congestion. When asked what programs should be shielded from any budget cuts at all, 77 percent said patrol officers, 73 percent said gang prevention programs, and 76 percent listed programs for at-risk kids, battered women, and the mentally ill.

When pollsters asked an open-ended question about which news source they thought provided the “the best, most reliable source of information” about local government and politics, 22 percent listed The Independent, 20 percent the Santa Barbara News-Press, 12 percent the Internet, eight percent KEYT, seven percent the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, and five percent radio, with no station listed.

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