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Monthly Poll Finds Support for Increasing Drug and Theft Penalties


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By Jorge Casuso

March 6, 2024 -- There is overwhelming support locally for a proposed statewide ballot measure to toughen penalties for drug and theft crimes, according to a monthly poll of "civically engaged" Santa Monica residents.

The Santa Monica Pulse survey also found strong support for a lawsuit to halt a needle distribution program in outdoor spaces and strong opposition to the use of Counciilmember travel funds to attend an expensive housing program in Vienna, Austria.

About 100 residents participated in the text poll, which was sent to nearly 1,000 local residents interested in "education efforts surrounding crime and safety" between February 29 and March 4.

Eighty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for a proposed initiative to reform Proposition 47, a statewide ballot measure approved in 2014 that reduced the prison population by reclassifying certain crimes as misdemeanors.

Ten percent would not support the measure, while 5 percent were not sure, according to the poll conducted by Eyes on 11, a hotel union watchdog.

The proposed measure -- backed by District Attorneys and law enforcement -- has gained strong traction and appears to be on track to easily qualify for the November ballot.

Last month, Mayor Phil Brock became the first mayor in Los Angeles County to endorse the California Increase Drug and Theft Penalties and Reduce Homelessness Initiative ("Brock Endorses State Measure to Increase Drug and Theft Penalties," February 12, 2024).

Asked whether they support a lawsuit forcing the LA County Health Department to move its Santa Monica needle distribution program indoors, 70 percent said yes, while 6 percent said no. The remaining 24 percent were not sure or marked "other."

Filed by the Santa Monica Coalition last month, the lawsuit claims the County and the Venice Family Clinic, which operates the program, failed to comply with California's Health and Safety Code when it authorized the program ("Santa Monica Group Files Lawsuit Over Needle Program," February 16, 2024).

The charges echo those made by a neighborhood group in Santa Cruz County that led to the halt of an outdoor needle distribution program.

The lawsuit comes nearly one and a half years after the City Council requested that County officials immediately move the program "to a service rich environment (preferably indoors)" ("Council Expected to Ask County's Help Removing Clean Needle Program from Parks," September 12, 2022).

The County has opposed moving the program, which critics say enables addicts to continue using, draws more homeless to the city and makes parks less safe.

The monthly poll also found strong opposition to the Council's unanimous vote last month allowing Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Caroline Torisis to use their travel funds to attend a week-long housing program in Vienna.

Three-quarters of the respondents did not support the use of taxpayer money to help pay for what is likely the most expensive Councilmember trip, while 16 percent supported it. The remaining 9 percent were not sure.

The two Councilmembers will use of their individual $8,400 travel fund to attend the program, with the remaining balance paid for with their Council stipends ("Council Authorizes Funds for Trip to Vienna," February 15, 2024).

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

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