Avalon to survey its citizens

The City of Avalon on Catalina Island is promoting an island-wide household survey to supplement U.S. Census data.

The data will be used to help apply for grant funds to improve water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure on the island.

Many infrastructure grants are competitive. Without accurate household information, Avalon is often at a disadvantage compared to other small communities in the state.

The City of Avalon on Catalina Island is promoting an island-wide household survey to supplement U.S. Census data.

The data will be used to help apply for grant funds to improve water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure on the island.

Many infrastructure grants are competitive. Without accurate household information, Avalon is often at a disadvantage compared to other small communities in the state.

“One of the biggest challenges to improving infrastructure in Avalon is struggling with the limited data available to us for planning and applying for grants and other funds,” said Audra McDonald, the city’s administrative analyst.

“Our data tends to get grouped with Los Angeles County as a whole, and that just isn’t an accurate representation of families here on the island,” McDonald said.

The U.S. Census Bureau revamped its data collection process in 2005 and started collecting sample data instead of total population information. The new census data collection method is supposed to sample 10 percent of the population in smaller communities, but for Catalina Island, where there are a number of vacation homes, that 10 percent can be very easily skewed.

“We wanted to make sure that the residents get represented correctly,” said Al Warot, the city’s planning consultant. “It is critical that we are able to plan for the infrastructure needs of the families who live on the island year-round.”

However, infrastructure improvement projects can be extremely expensive. The city is determined to find the money to get these jobs done and is hoping to apply for a number of grant opportunities that can cover construction costs. The Proposition 1 water bonds approved by the State of California last year are a potential source of funding. In order to be eligible for these funds, the city must show there is a significant need for both the infrastructure improvements and the grant funds to pay for them.

“We have different needs from the rest of Los Angeles County,” said McDonald.

“We won’t be competitive for grant funds if we can’t explain how those needs are different with hard data,” said McDonald.

The household survey asks for data about family size, household income, demographics, and Catalina Express Ferry ridership.

The survey will be mailed to all residential addresses on the island in late May.

Residents will receive a copy of the survey through the mail, but they will also have the option to take the survey online. The survey will be available in both English and Spanish, and everyone currently living on the island is encouraged to complete it. The survey is completely confidential, and no responses will be shared with any other government or private agencies. “We really hope that better data will help us to get funding for these much-needed improvements,” said McDonald.

“Our city may be small, but our residents deserve modern infrastructure,” said McDonald.

For more information about the Avalon income survey and how it will help the community, contact Audra McDonald at 310-510-0220, ext. 118, or Audra1@cityofavalon.com, or Jordan Monroe at jmonroe@cityofavalon.com.

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