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Alhambra to conduct another survey on general plan

Photo by David Muñoz.


Alhambra , CA United States

The Alhambra City Council voted unanimously to conduct a city-wide survey to get additional input into the city’s general plan on Monday night.

The City Council opted to contract with Fairbanks, Maulin, Metz and Associates, also known as FM3, to conduct a survey based on a random sample size of 400 Alhambra residents. The survey would include telephone, web-based and mailed questionnaires; focus groups and in-depth interviews in Chinese, English and Spanish, according to a city of Alhambra staff report. The sample would be generated by pulling the addresses of 400 registered voters in Alhambra.

FM3 estimated the survey to take six weeks to conduct and for it to cost $31,750. The second of three general plan public hearings at Alhambra’s Planning Commission was postponed as a result.

Alhambra has been drafting a new general plan, a policy document guiding the city’s long-term growth, since 2015. A phone survey of 400 Alhambra households was conducted from June 25 to July 9 of that year. The city also distributed a written survey online and at Alhambra City Hall, as well as at the library, during June and July of 2015, generating 360 voluntary respondents. The city also held various workshops from 2015 to 2018, asking for input.

Councilmember Katherine Lee raised concerns during the Jan. 14 City Council meeting over the small number of people surveyed. “We need to do more to get more civic engagement,” she said. “This general plan is going to impact the city for the next 20 years.”

Multiple City Councilmembers raised concerns over FM3’s proposal to generate a sample from registered voters. “We didn’t keep [non-voters] out of the surveys or community meetings, I don’t think we shouldn’t keep them out here,” Mayor Jeff Maloney said. Director of Community Development Marc Castagnola said he would discuss generating a sample from voters and non-voters with FM3.

When asked whether they could extend their sample size to 20,000 households, FM3 said that doing so would not change results significantly from taking a sample size of 400, Castagnola said. True North, the firm who conducted the phone survey in 2015, had a similar view.

At Monday’s Council meeting, Lee requested that the city manager ask the cities of Monterey Park and Pasadena how they conducted outreach to get a wider range of residents to respond.

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2 thoughts on “Alhambra to conduct another survey on general plan”

  1. Why is it that Pasadena can send the survey to 70,000 residents and businesses and Monterey Park 66,000. To just survey another 400 people defeats the purpose of making the questionnaire available to as many Alhambrans as possible so they can at least have the option of responding to it. All the ‘input sessions’ at the library and the filling out of colorful comment cards did NOT make it into the General Plan as any kind of statistical data whatsoever, so a decent sample should be gotten by which to make such claims that the city has been making, like “Alhambrans want a hotel”. Where’s your data, City of Alhambra, pet to all developers.

  2. This is great news, but the point about only surveying registered voters is valid. The pool will be biased if it is designated to a particular group of people. This needs to be resolved before the survey is conducted. If the city is going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new survey then it needs to be done right, unlike so many other aspects of this general plan process.