Logo horizontal ruler


About Us Contact

Santa Monica Area Residents Weigh in on Downtown

By Jorge Casuso

October 27 – A survey released last week debunks an “urban myth” that Santa Monicans don’t frequent the Third Street Promenade and surrounding areas, Downtown officials said.

The survey -- which polled 400 Santa Monica area residents by phone, two-thirds of them from the city -- also highlights isues, such as the homeless, parking and maintenance, that are high on the list of concerns for Bayside District officials.

The survey found that 82 percent of those who live in or near Santa Monica had visited the Downtown area in the 30 days prior to the survey, averaging more than one-and-a-half trips a week.

And nearly all of the area residents surveyed – 97 percent – had visited the Downtown in the year prior to the survey, which was conducted in September and October by CIC Research, Inc., a San Diego-based consulting firm .

The notion that locals don’t go Downtown “may be Santa Monica’s own urban myth,” said Bayside Executive Director Kathleen Rawson. “But it doesn’t pan out with the surveys.”

“Clearly people are coming,” said Robert O. York, a consultant to the Bayside. “It’s a major acomplishment.”

“Just about everyone has come about once a week.,” said John Warfel, vice chair of the Bayside Board, which was presented with the findings at a board meeting Thursday. “It’s hard to believe almost.”

More than half (51 percent) of the area residents polled visited the Downtown to shop, up from 38 percent in 1997 and 48 percent in 2003, according to the survey.

Dining lured 15 percent of the area visitors, mirroring1997 and 2003 trends, while 11 percent went Downtown for personal or business reasons or to run errands.

Perhaps most striking, only 10 percent of area residents visited the Downtown to watch movies, down from 17 percent in 2003 and 31 percent in 1997.

The drop is due to a wider array of offerings and increased competition from state-of-the-art theaters opening in surrounding communities, York said.

“The movies were a much more significant part of the offerings many years ago,” he said. “The Downtown wasn’t as fully developed.

“We have a more balanced offering now,” York added. “The theaters are not as compelling. People coming for the movies are probably coming from a smaller geographical area.”

Sixty one percent of the area residents surveyed said they visited Downtown Santa Monica rather than somewhere else, because they live nearby, while 8 percent said they worked nearby.

The “variety/quality” of the stores and services were the main reason 37 percent of area residents said they visited the Downtown, while 12 percent said it was entertaining with “lots to do” and 11 percent said they came for the “nice/pleasant atmosphere.”

Nearly three quarters, 73 percent, of area residents who had visited the Downtown in the past 30 days said they went to a store that sold clothing, shoes or acessories; 70 percent visited bookstores, 64 percent frequented a restaurant that sold only food, while 60 percent went to a restaurant that served both food and drinks.

“They’re visiting for a big variety” of stores, said Pamela Jaffe, of CIC Research. “They’re coming to eat and drink, as well as for the entertainment.”

Of the area residents who visited Downtown in the past 30 days, 62 percent visited a business that featured “entertainment/theater,” 56 percent went to “food stores/delis/specialty” stores and 50 percent visited businesses that featured “housewares/accessories.”

The survey results also reflected problems the Bayside Board has been grappling with.

When asked what needs to be changed, 28 percent said there should be something done about the homeless, while 17 percent wanted “more/better” parking, 13 percent wanted “better/different” stores and 12 percent cited “traffic flow/congestion” as something that needed to be addressed.

“The top issues have been consistent for many, many years,” York said. “I think that helps make sure that people stay on focus.”

A separate “intercept” survey of 423 people conducted Downtown found that 37 percent lived or worked in Los Angeles County, 25 percent lived outside the county and 16 percent were foreign visitors.

Of those surveyed on the street, 15 percent lived in Santa Monica, down from 42 percent in 1997, while 7 percent worked in the city, about the same as nine years ago.

The survey also found that 37 percent of those interviewd Downtown came to shop, down from 56 percent in 1997. That compares with 51 percent of area residents who cited shopping as the main reaon for visiting Downtown.

Eating out was cited by 24 pecent of those interviewed on the street, up from 7 percent in 2003, while movies dropped to 8 percent, from 22 percent in 2003. Socializing was cited by 17 percent of the respondents, down from 22 percent three years ago.

Most of the visitors– 69 percent – drove Downtown, down from 79 percent in 2003. More of them – 23 percent – walked, up from 10 percent three years ago, while those who took public transit dropped to 3 percent, from 14 percent in 1997.

When asked what they liked least about the area, 25 percent of those surveyed Downtown said the homeless, up from 23 percent three years ago; 20 percent cited parking, down from 25 percent, while 15 percent said “traffic, the same as three years ago. Fifteen percent said the area was “crowded/congested,” up from 13 percent in 2003.






Lookout Logo footer image
Copyright 1999-2008 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.
Footer Email icon