Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction: Answers to Rumors and Questions

Welcome to the Fact or Fiction: Answers to Rumors and Questions page, where the City of Coronado provides official information to the community regarding rumors and questions. The City will use this space to correct information and present facts. Truth and transparency are keys to a healthy and vibrant community.​

The National Research Center Responds to Validity of Citizen Survey (April 11, 2018)

The following addresses the question of the scientific validity of the National Citizen Survey, commissioned by the City of Coronado and conducted by the National Research Center, as it relates to the potential to allow for multiple responses from the same person or by those not targeted to take the survey.

National Research Center uses best research practices, and ensures that survey results are unbiased and that its findings can be trusted. The central concern is the chance that the survey could be completed more than once, thereby undermining the credibility of findings and creating the appearance that the survey is not scientific.

National Research Center President and CEO Tom Miller, who earned a Ph.D. in research and evaluation methods from the University of Colorado, Boulder, appreciates the opportunity to respond:

All questions about survey methods, including the question raised about the possibility of multiple responses, boil down to a single important question: Are the results likely to be a valid representation of the opinions of the adult population of Coronado? Corollary to that question is: Does the survey process itself create the optimal likelihood of garnering a representative set of community opinions?

National Research Center’s survey methods are based on years of research on survey data collection. Company principals have written two books published by the International City/County Management Association, and have published research in scholarly and lay journals and tested in the field for more than 20 years. The essence of the company’s approach is to follow a set of practices proven to maximize the chances of accurate findings.

Complete coverage of all dwelling units in a jurisdiction
Random/systematic sampling of housing units
Unbiased selection of adult resident in selected housing units
Anonymity of responses promised whenever feasible
Self-addressed and stamped reply envelope
Unbiased questions targeted for local government use that keep the survey as short and simple as possible
Layout easy to follow
Multiple contacts to remind response and offer new response materials. Importantly, contacting potential respondents multiple times encourages response from people who may have different opinions or habits than those who would respond with only a single prompt.
Multiple data collection modes (mail, web) as needed
Signed cover letter from City Manager to evoke civic responsibility
Adherence to American Association of Public Opinion Research Transparency Initiative requirements to make public the key survey methods.

The biggest challenge in survey research these days is to get residents to respond. Response rates have fallen in all locations, for every purpose and by every data collection mode. The threat of multiple responses in most local government surveys is minimal because of the time required to complete the survey and the low stakes of the survey questions. Optimal survey methods for garnering the largest and broadest response include making it very easy for residents to participate and ensuring that responses will be anonymous so that answers are honest. Sometimes residents forget or are too busy to complete their survey or they misplace it, so the best survey practice is to give residents multiple opportunities to give their response. To keep results anonymous, there is no code affixed to the questionnaire that would be required to respond to the survey and no secret identifying marks on the survey so that there is no way to link responses to individuals.

Secret codes can be used to identify residents and residents know this. In National Research Center’s experience, such codes affixed to surveys even in locations not readily visible often are removed by residents from mailed surveys and codes required for entry to a web or online survey reduce response rates and change responses because responses no longer are given in anonymity.

Multiple survey responses are unlikely to have any noticeable effect on the results. In the National Research Center’s research lab, the company has tested the possibility that residents would accidentally or intentionally respond more than once. By using identifying codes, the company determined that on average, about .5 percent to 1 percent of respondents have appeared twice in a sample. But imagine that as many as 5 percent of a sample comprised duplicate respondents in Coronado, a magnitude never seen by National Research Center. That would mean that 7 or 8 residents out of 300 responding residents ignored the clear instructions to respond only once and responded, instead, twice. Such an example of “ballot stuffing” would have no noticeable effect on results. Below is an example of that point.

Imagine that the results of the question about public art found 50 percent of 300 respondents, or 150 respondents, felt there was “too much” public art -- with a margin of error ranging from 44 percent to 56 percent.

Survey Sample Question

Now assume that the eight residents who completed the survey twice, submitting 16 duplicates, or about 5 percent of the 300 respondents, indicated there was “too much” public art in Coronado and those eight duplicates were removed. With 142 of 292 respondents believing that there was too much public art, the new figure would be 48.6 percent of respondents saying “too much,” with a margin of error from 42.6 percent to 54.6 percent. Even with this unlikely magnitude of “double voting,” there is no meaningful difference in results. A few “extra” responses do no harm and offsets the decrease in response rate expected if a code were required to respond. But what about some individual or some group that seeks to write in large numbers of duplicate responses to the anonymous survey? If there were mass intention to undermine the instructions of the survey – written and signed by the City Manager - the timing and volume of scores of unsought duplicate responses would reveal a signature of untypical dimensions that would be spotted easily by researchers. Such a pattern has not appeared.

Below are excerpts from two articles that support National Research Center’s point that giving potential survey respondents multiple opportunities to respond is survey research best practice.

1. In: “Survey Completion Rates and Resource Use at Each Step of a Dillman-Style Multi-Modal Survey” by Andrea Hassol, et al. Abt Associates Incorporated, article submitted for publication to “Public Opinion Quarterly”:

 “In designing data collection strategies, survey researchers must weigh available resources against expected returns…
 Considerable research has been conducted on methods for improving response rates to surveys. Several key factors are known to affect response rates, including salience of the survey (Herberlein and Baumgartner, 1978), form of mailing and monetary incentives (Dillman, 1991), and multiple contacts (Linsky, 1975, Dillman, 1991). A response-maximizing approach to multi-modal surveys, as best articulated by Dillman (1978), includes: 
A respondent-friendly questionnaire;
Up to five contacts with recipients of the survey (a brief pre-notice letter sent a few days prior to the arrival of the questionnaire; a questionnaire mailing that includes a detailed cover letter; a thank you/reminder postcard; a replacement questionnaire; a final contact, possibly by telephone.);
Inclusion of stamped return envelopes;
Personalized correspondence; and
A token financial incentive.

 2. In: “The Effects of MultiWave Mailings on the External Validity of Mail Surveys” by Michael Dalecki, et al. Journal of the Community Development Society. 19(1) · June 2010. University of Delaware:

 Abstract: Survey data, particularly mail questionnaires, are very useful in community development work. With relatively low cost, a practitioner can obtain valid information to determine community needs, support for programs and general attitudes and opinions of local citizens. Low response rates, however, can have serious effects on the validity of the data. Previous research has shown that follow-up mailings are essential to obtaining a high response rate to mail surveys. This paper examines the potential for sample bias if the number of mailings is reduced. Differences between groups responding to three waves of mailings to a statewide Pennsylvania survey (N = 9,957) are examined via log-linear techniques, using continuation ratio models. The results indicate that initial respondents differ from laggard respondents on five demographic characteristics, but differences diminish between early laggard and late laggard respondents. The implication is that single mailings of questionnaires could cause serious threats to the validity of the data. Multiple mailings and other methods to maximize response rates are necessary to improve the quality of survey data for community development work.

Did the City of Newport Beach successfully challenge a state law, Senate Bill 2, that mandates a city's zoning codes accommodate emergency shelters and transitional housing? (June  3, 2017)

No. Newport Beach did not successfully challenge Senate Bill 2, which became law in 2008, nor did it adopt an ordinance to limit or regulate transitional housing. However, Newport Beach unsuccessfully litigated regulations for “sober-living” group homes. Ultimately, Newport Beach settled for $5.25 million and spent more than $4 million defending three lawsuits. The litigation lasted seven years and cost taxpayers $9.25 million.

In January 2008 and after having received complaints from Newport Beach residents about traffic issues, cigarette smoke, loitering and noise, Newport Beach adopted an ordinance that placed strict limits on group living arrangements. Group homes are residential facilities in which individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction temporarily reside. The ordinance effectively prohibited new group homes, housing seven or more residents, from opening in most residential areas with some exceptions in multifamily zones. It also required existing group homes to complete a permitting process within 90 days for a special use permit, which required extensive findings in order to allow the group home to operate. The rules could be waived only if the applicant could show a reasonable accommodation was required under either state or federal housing laws.

Newport Beach was sued by three operators, who contended that the ordinance violated anti-discrimination and fair housing laws. They claimed the ordinance forced out many of the group homes serving a protected class because they could not qualify for permits.

A U.S. District Court judge first ruled in 2010 that the nature of the ordinance was not discriminatory and granted summary judgment to Newport Beach. The case was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2013, a three-justice panel, ruled that the ordinance may have illegally discriminated against group homes for people in recovery based on disability. The Court found that where there is direct or circumstantial evidence that the city acted with a discriminatory purpose and caused harm to members of a protected class, such evidence is sufficient to permit the protected individuals to proceed to trial under a disparate treatment theory. Newport Beach requested review of the opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied review. Newport Beach subsequently settled with the three operators for $5.25 million.

The court case is Pacific Shores, LLC v. City of Newport Beach 730 F.3d 1142 (9th Cir. 2013).

It is noted that the Newport Beach case addressed group homes and group living arrangements that predated the adoption of Senate Bill 2, which added the requirement in state law that cities must treat transitional housing the same as other residential uses in the same residential zone. Therefore, unless the conditions apply to all residential uses, they cannot be imposed on transitional housing. Imposing conditions or permit requirements exclusively for transitional housing but not to other residential uses would likely result in the same conclusion reached in the Newport Beach case.

What role does the City have in the redevelopment of the Coramart building and has the City prevented its redevelopment? (May  17, 2017)

Recently, some residents have speculated that the City has not supported or has somehow delayed or prevented the redevelopment of the Coramart building. This could not be further from the truth. The City takes pride in its award-winning main street and works daily to make residents proud of Orange Avenue and other streets in the business district. The City fully supports its businesses, treats all Coronado property owners with respect, and wishes each business well. The City is unaware of any proposal that has been made regarding tenants or improvements to the building that has not been well received by the City. To the City’s knowledge, no lease has been executed between the owner and any potential tenant for the space. The Coramart building, at 844 Orange Ave., was formerly a general goods retail store. The building has been privately owned by the same person/family for many years. The property has not been occupied since the retail store closed. The building is an unreinforced masonry building and does not meet current earthquake standards and may need to be brought up to current earthquake and building/fire code standards before it can be reopened, which presumably will incur a significant cost. Additionally, any eating or drinking establishment would require new parking per zoning codes. As a private building, the City would not participate in negotiations between the property owner and the tenant. The City is aware of the rumors that an agreement has been made to lease the building to either Vons or Rite Aid. As far as the City knows, they are simply rumors. Over the past several years, the City has notified the property owner when the building was not maintained in accordance with the minimum standards of the Municipal Code. When notified, the property owner has taken corrective actions

Are there fresh water aquifers in Coronado that could be used for a supply of potable water? (May 17, 2017)

It has been stated in recent weeks and over the years that fresh water aquifers, close to the surface, exist in Coronado. There have been stories told and second-hand accounts written, but no studies or documents have been found to confirm that any such aquifers exist. Geologically, this is generally impossible in Coronado, as many areas, including the Golf Course and Tidelands Park, were constructed on hydraulic fill or dredge material, and would not naturally support an aquifer.

Aquifers are geologic formations that contain and support the transmission of groundwater. The near-surface groundwater in the fill areas is tidally influenced and brackish. Brackish water is defined as water with a salinity level of 5 to 30 parts per thousand (water with salinity levels from 30 to 50 are classified as saline, and above 50 is brine). The groundwater in the Country Club area was recently tested and found to have a salinity of 19 parts per thousand.

In 2011, as part of a study considering alternative water sources for irrigation, it was discovered that the golf course pond replenishment well water was seawater strength and the dry weather groundwater that flows into the underground storm water system at Coronado Avenue and Eighth Street was brackish. (RBF Consulting City of Coronado Recycled Water Feasibility Study, August 18, 2011)

Current City records do not reveal the presence of fresh water wells.

There are high groundwater levels in Coronado because the City sits mostly at sea level. This groundwater, which when tested is brackish, is often present when excavating construction sites. There is the possibility that small fresh water lenses are present in the fill areas where significant irrigation takes place. Fresh water lenses are thin layers of fresh water that accumulate from rainfall (minimal in Coronado, typically less than 10 inches per year) and irrigation waters that percolate through the soil and rest atop the brackish ground water. This occurs because of the lower density of fresh water. These lenses, if they do exist, also have not been studied.

Deeper underground reservoirs exist in the greater San Diego area. In our area, there is the San Diego Formation Aquifer. The San Diego County Water Authority said groundwater production is limited by lack of storage capacity, availability of groundwater that makes it into aquifers and degraded water quality. It said: “Narrow river valleys filled with shallow sand and gravel deposits are characteristic of the most productive groundwater basins in the San Diego region.”

Even if Coronado were to find fresh water aquifers under the City, the California Public Utilities Commission has determined that California American Water, an investor owned utility, has exclusive service rights to provide potable water to customers in Coronado.

 

The City has fire rings at North Beach that get very busy during the summer. What is the City’s fire ring policy? How does the City monitor behavior at the fire rings and is it enough? (April 19, 2017)

Coronado has eight, five-by-five-foot fire rings at North Beach. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis. City-provided fire rings are permitted uses per Coronado Municipal Code Section 86.38.020. In addition, Code Section 48.04.120 allows for fires to be built in a portable barbecue or other similar devices, however, coals used in any such barbecue device must be placed in a hot coal receptacle or fire ring before leaving. City officials have posted fire ring rules online and on signs at the beach. The rules are simple: The City requires beachgoers to use only clean wood or charcoal; no burning of pallets; no fire materials shall be placed higher than 12 inches above the upper edge of the fire ring; hot coals are to be placed in the proper receptacle; and anything brought on to the beach must be removed when leaving the beach. A few frequent beachgoers have expressed concern that cleaning crews don’t arrive early enough and don’t clean the sand thoroughly enough. The beach is inspected and cleaned every day of the year. Typically, crews arrive at the beach 7:15 a.m. to assess the entire 2-mile-long coastline, looking for safety hazards first, then creating a plan to address other issues based on which locations, such as Central Beach, see the earliest visitors. Workers then begin cleaning the sand, sweeping the kelp and removing trash. By 8 a.m., or earlier depending on the need, crews move to North Beach to pick up trash, sift the sand and empty trash bins. Hot coal receptacles, which can be found throughout the beach, are emptied as needed. North Beach is typically cleaned by 9 a.m. The City also has received comments that the City does not stop all pallets from being burned at the beach, especially outside the summer season. This does happen on occasion, typically during slower times of the year after City Lifeguards have left for the day and when the Police Department conducts more random patrols. The use of pallets is prohibited due to the nails and sharp pieces of wood that can be left behind when they are broken up. During the busy summer season, the City hires security personnel who begin patrolling the North Beach fire rings on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. They are on hand through the Labor Day weekend. Uniformed security guards work every day from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. to educate beach users about the beach and fire regulations and to report non-compliance to the Police Department, which also patrols the beach. The curfew for North Beach and vehicle parking on Ocean Boulevard is from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Security personnel take photos every night of the fire ring area before ending their shifts and provide documentation of the beach condition and any interactions they have with fire ring users. They have access to a locked trash bin for the disposal and safekeeping of wood pallets intercepted at the beach. City Lifeguards also provide early morning inspections of the beach. They will locate and mark any fire debris from portable or illegal fires and report them to Public Services for clean-up. Those who witness any beach rule violations are asked to call the non-emergency Police Department line at (619) 522-7350. If there is an actual emergency, call 911. To report any damage, illegal fire debris or trash that requires clean-up, call Public Services at (619) 522-7380. Historically, Coronado had 18 fire rings until 1994, when City officials removed 10, increased the space between them and established a beach curfew. In January 2014, the City Council amended the Municipal Code to limit fires to charcoal and clean wood only, and restricted fire material heights. The City consulted with the California Coastal Commission, who encouraged the protection of lower cost visitor and recreational facilities, citing Section 30213 of the California Coastal Act. Current state legislation seeks to preserve beach fires.

It has been reported in national news stories based on a local report that the City of Coronado’s beach was closed for several weeks. (March  20, 2017)

The ocean shoreline from the border to the north end of Coronado was affected by a sewage spill in Mexico first noted in early February. Coronado’s beach was closed by San Diego County Department of Health officials on Tuesday, February 28, and reopened on Friday, March 3, at 3 p.m. for a total of three days, not several weeks. The spill reportedly involved  million of gallons of sewage in the Tijuana River over a period of several weeks. The river drains into the Pacific Ocean just north of the border. If there are local businesses that have had substantial economic impacts due to the sewage spill, they may report that information to www.SDCountyRecovery.com to help the region qualify for federal disaster assistance for the spill. Completing the form does not guarantee assistance, but will assist in determining federal eligibility

What are the white cones along the Silver Strand State Highway?(March  20, 2017)

 Many residents and commuters ask about the many small cones along the Silver Strand State Highway. They are part of the Navy’s Dune Restoration Project. The Navy recently updated the community about the project. Here is a synopsis: The project is a requirement of the Silver Strand Training Complex Environmental Impact Statement and supports Navy training in this area. The project provides nesting habitat for two federally protected birds, the California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover. The two-phase project will restore native coastal dune plants. The Navy began planting for phase 1 in the winter of 2012 and all plant protectors for this phase were removed in the spring of 2015.  Planting for phase 2 was completed in January 2016 and the protective cones may need to be in place for up to 30 months; however, the cones will be removed as soon as plants can withstand the intense herbivory.

Questions have come up in the community about what uses are allowed in the City of Coronado’s R-1A residential zoning code. What are those uses?(March  2, 2017)

Here are the allowed uses that apply to all R-1A properties in the City:

  1. One single family dwelling
  2. One duplex or two single-family dwelling buildings in the R-1A(E) zone on a minimum lot of 10,500 square feet
  3. Incidental home occupations (See Chapter 20.08 of the CMC)
  4. Accessory Buildings (See Chapter 86.56 of the CMC)
  5. Off-street parking (See Chapter 86.58 of the CMC)
  6. Residential care facility, supportive housing, and transitional housing, as defined in Chapter 86 of the CMC

The City adopted a resolution in February 2013, amending the Coronado General Plan by adopting the 2013-2021 Housing Element, which is required by the State to effectuate State housing policy. The City was required to amend its Municipal Code within one year of amending the General Plan to address the amendments to the 2013-2021 Housing Element. In early 2014, the Planning Commission recommended approval of and the City Council then formally approved the Municipal Code amendment related to the Housing Element. If the Housing Element is not certified by the State and adopted by the City, Coronado is not eligible to receive some state and regional funding.  Additionally, even if Coronado were to not amend its Housing Element, it could not prevent the subject uses in its residential zoning districts.  As required by State law, language was added to clarify that supportive housing and transitional housing are a form of housing and shall be permitted in zones where housing is permitted, subject to the same development standards as the same type of housing in that zone.

Why are there two construction sites at Spreckels Park? And why is the site near Seventh only a concrete pad? (February  27, 2017)

The Spreckels Park Restroom project includes the demolition of the existing restroom, which has run its useful life and does not meet current demand or Americans with Disabilities Act codes. It will be replaced with a larger restroom and two pads for two new portable restroom trailers for occasions that require greater capacity. One concrete pad is near the existing restroom and the other is on the south side of the park near Seventh Street. When empty, the pad nearest Seventh has been designed to have a second life. The Parks and Recreation Commission approved a design that includes a foursquare court and two hopscotch games. The portable restroom for that concrete pad will have three restrooms, including one that is ADA-compliant. The other portable restroom, which is larger and has more toilets, will be placed on decorative pavers. The portable restroom trailers are designed to eliminate the need for port-a-potties in Spreckels Park throughout the summer months; which will eliminate the odors and improve the Park’s appearance. The total appropriation for the project, including design, construction and administration, is $614,000. Portable restrooms are in place during construction. The art work has been preserved and will be restored. Additionally, two new murals will be installed on the new restroom. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of April of this year.

Hopscotch and Foursquare

Why is the Glorietta Bay Boat Launch Ramp closed and when will it reopen? (January 23, 2017)

The Dock C and Glorietta Bay Boat Launch Ramp project began last month and includes demolishing and rebuilding Dock C as well as rebuilding the boat launch ramp and nearby dock. Demolition is nearly complete on all the Dock C docks. The boat launch ramp was closed on Monday, February 13, to allow construction to begin uninterrupted. It will reopen in May. Signs have been posted and the San Diego Unified Port District was alerted. There are three other boat ramps in the bay that boaters can use: Shelter Island, Chula Vista and National City.

What was the odor in Coronado on Easter Sunday? (April 19, 2017)

On Sunday, April 16, the City received multiple reports of a possible “noxious odor” in the Village area at about 6:30 p.m. Coronado and San Diego Fire crews responded to various locations to locate and identify the source of the odor. While investigating the odor, Fire officials discovered that there also were multiple reports of a similar odor at North Island Naval Air Station. Prevailing winds appeared to push the odor through the cities of San Diego and National City. No significant findings were found on detectors and monitors. A total of 20 reports were received but no source or identification of the odor was determined. The City has the personnel, training and equipment for just such potential emergencies and wants the community to know that it responded immediately, sending units out in the field with detectors and monitors to reach the source. Since there was no hazardous material detected, no further action could be taken. The health and well-being of the community is the No. 1 concern for public safety officials. No one in the community was in any danger. If the City’s equipment had detected a source and identified the odor, actions would have been taken immediately to secure the threat, including notifications, public announcements, community outreach and local evacuations, if required. Coronado residents acted properly in calling the City and public safety officials encourage residents and visitors to call 911 if they smell, hear or see something that could pose a danger to the community. The City thanks you for your involvement.

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