Survey Instrument 13.4


Our annual California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) Survey of Coastal Opinions and Behaviors seeks to quantify the public’s understanding of and attitude toward various coastal resources and issues within coastal Southern California. This instrument seeks to test the hypotheses that the general public:

  1. Understands the current condition of our coastal resources;
  2. Frequently consumes or actively engages coastal resources;
  3. Is aware of current coastal management efforts; and
  4. Is satisfied with current management efforts.

Understanding the public’s behavior relevant to, perceptions of, and valuation of various coastal resources is key to shaping effective policy, conducting truly community-based conservation efforts, and effectively targeting scarce public dollars.


Since 2005, students enrolled in CSUCI’s Coastal and Marine Management (ESRM 462) class have administered our annual survey across southern Santa Barbara, Ventura, and northern Los Angeles Counties in early fall (September through October). The results from each year’s survey are incorporated into our course and provide various points of departure for discussions revolving around coastal management. The original iterations of this survey were not intended for use outside our CSUCI classrooms. However, after repeated requests from various coastal resource managers for summaries of our polling data, we significantly revised our instrument starting in 2007 by increasing our scope of questioning and annual sampling effort (from the initial 144 surveys in 2005; Table 1).

Table 1. Poll Summary Stats

Survey Year# of PollsPoll Version# of Questions
Overall (2005-2018)14,213

Sampling Methodology

Survey respondents are volunteers haphazardly encountered in public places (malls, parks, etc.) during daylight hours and not compensated. Owing to the location of the CSUCI campus, more than 60% of the surveys are routinely conducted within Ventura County, with the remainder split roughly equally between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties. Within any given location, sampling is haphazard (Connaway and Powell 2010). No more than 25 surveys are conducted within any one location in any given year to minimize any bias from our non-probability sampling (Fink 2003). Individual sampling locations are selected randomly by student surveyors from among publicly accessible areas across the region. Question order was randomized for each survey in the first two years, but fixed for all subsequent surveys. All surveys used a printed questionnaire and were in English. We began piloting Spanish language versions of our poll in 2010, but we have never collect substantial numbers of survey and so report only data from English language versions on these pages.


Roughly half of our survey questions are consistently asked from year to year.  The remainder are suggested by current events or emerging policy debates and asked as one-off inquiries or for a few years before being phased out.  Questions span a variety of categories (Table 2).

Table 2. 2019 Poll Questions

Category# of QuestionsRepresentative Question
Coastal Science3Might climate change have played a role in our recent 2017 hurricanes?
Existing Conditions4Do you know of any “wetlands” within 50 miles of your home?
Management: Awareness5Which approaches to protect fish and shellfish populations are you familiar with?
Management: Evaluation11The joint industry-government response to the 2015 Refugio Oil Spillin Santa Barbara was…
Management: Desired2Whose taxes should primarily support/underwrite the National Flood Insurance Program?
Valuation2Which of the following should be used in determining the value of natural areas?
Behaviors15Over the past 7 days, how many ounces of seafood did you eat?
Demographics10In what year were you born?
Word Association2When you hear the coast, what first comes to mind?

This is our public opinion poll (version 13.4).

Coastal Survey13_04