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Monthly Poll Finds Most Support "Pretextual Stops," Oppose More Taxes

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By Jorge Casuso

July 24, 2023 -- A monthly poll of civically engaged Santa Monica residents found most support "pretextual" traffic stops by police but strongly oppose using AI cameras to distribute parking tickets.

The text message poll of some 150 residents -- conducted between July 19 and July 24 -- also found respondents strongly oppose adding new tax measures to next year's ballot.

This month's Santa Monica Pulse poll asked respondents to weigh in on “pretextual stops” by law enforcement that "currently allow police to stop someone for minor traffic violations to investigate for potentially more serious crimes."

Fifty-nine percent of respondents back the stops, which "supporters say have allowed Santa Monica law enforcement officers to proactively prevent violent crime in the city," the poll noted.

Thirty-two percent oppose the stops, which opponents say result in an disproportionate number of minority motorists pulled over by police, while 9 percent were unsure ("Police Reform Commission Takes Up Identity Profiling," July 10, 2023).

A report compiled by the Police Department found that Black motorists were involved in a disproportionate number of traffic stops in Santa Monica last year compared the the size of their population.

The report, however, cautions that drawing demographic conclusions is difficult because Santa Monica borders Los Angeles on three sides and its population can swell on an average holiday weekend from 90,000 to half a million.

Meanwhile, 81 percent of respondents do not support a new pilot program that uses AI cameras "to automatically detect and distribute parking tickets to vehicles improperly stopped or parked in dedicated bus lanes."

Only 16 percent approve of the program, while 3 percent said they were unsure.

The survey notes that "during the initial 45-day pilot program in Santa Monica, the AI camera system identified more than 500 violations with fines nearing $300 each."

Voters -- who approved three new tax hikes last November -- seem staunchly reluctant to continue adding taxes, with 83 percent opposed to including new measures on thee November 2024 ballot.

Only 8 percent supported additional taxes, while 9 percent were unsure
after "voters already approved three new tax hikes on real estate transactions, hotels and lodging, and cannabis businesses," according to the poll.

This month, the City Council voted to authorize a $400,000 five-year contract with TeamCivX, LLC, to "provide strategic advisory and communications services regarding potential ballot measures."

The measures would help the cash-strapped City build new revenue streams after it was set back some $400 million by the coronavirus shutdown and record legal settlements in sexual abuse cases.

As with previous polls, the latest Santa Monica Pulse poll was sent to nearly 1,000 residents who "previously opted in to receive more information on education efforts surrounding crime and safety in their city." It had a 15 percent response rate.

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

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