News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 05/30/2013
Subject :

Preliminary Survey Results on Infrastructure Polling
Residents Neutral on Infrastructure Needs, Confident in City Financial Management
Contact : Sheila Tucker, Assistant to City Manager    650-329-2452
Palo Alto, CA - As the first step in a series of research efforts to assess public attitudes about the City's infrastructure, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3), the City’s public opinion research firm, conducted an initial baseline public opinion survey this spring of approximately 600 Palo Alto residents. The preliminary conclusions of the survey will be reviewed at the June 6 meeting of the City's Infrastructure Committee at 5 PM in City Hall, Council Conference Room, 1st Floor, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto. The Committee may consider recommendations to the full Council on the next steps.

FM3, the City’s independent pollster, concluded from the baseline survey: 

  • Voters express striking confidence in City government and its financial management.
  • Voters believe the City is handling infrastructure issues well, do not view them with urgency or believe much additional funding is required.
  • Concurrently, 66% of voters support a ballot measure to finance infrastructure improvements, although tentatively.
  • A ballot measure to fully fund a public safety building is unlikely to receive the necessary two-thirds support.  However, the public share of a public-private partnership could likely win approval as part of a broader package.

In addition, FM3 found that a measure had a better chance of success if it focused on public safety and transportation improvements (including bike and pedestrian) improvements; packaged popular projects together with those generating lukewarm support; used general obligation bonds as the financing mechanism for those requiring two-thirds approval with several other taxes feasible with a simple majority vote and kept costs close to what voters seem willing to pay – a peak of $125 per year (for two-thirds support) and $200 per year (for majority support).

The staff report for the June 6 Infrastructure Committee meeting, including FM3 full report of the initial survey findings, view the 6-6-2013 Infrastructure Committee Staff Report.

The initial baseline survey provided very preliminary data about the community’s priorities that will help the City to evaluate the feasibility of a finance measure and refine priorities for further study.  Depending on the City Council’s direction, the City would conduct focus groups and continue additional opinion research efforts in 2013. The research will culminate in a final Council decision in the spring of 2014 about whether and how to proceed with an infrastructure finance measure. 

In October 2010, the Palo Alto City Council appointed a 17-member Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission (IBRC) to evaluate the state of Palo Alto’s infrastructure and to make strategic recommendations to maintain and improve the City’s extensive infrastructure inventory. The IBRC released an infrastructure report in January 2012, and the City Council held four retreats to focus on infrastructure and next steps on the IBRC’s recommendations.

On Sept. 18, 2012, the City Council adopted a high level plan and timeline for consideration of an infrastructure revenue measure for the November 2014 election. The City subsequently retained FM3 to assist with public opinion research and educational outreach.