From July 10th to August 12th Civinomics collected 269 survey responses on the proposed Downtown Watsonville Arts and Entertainment District. The target respondent pool was Watsonville residents, so the majority of survey responses were collected through door-to-door interviews using tablet computers (191 or 70% of the total sample). An additional 44 surveys (16%) were collected online and 38 (14%) were collected at the City’s annual Strawberry Festival.
The survey found that Watsonville respondents value the small town, family centric nature of their City above all else and believe that any successful Arts and Entertainment District needs to enhance these qualities.
The majority of Watsonville respondents (51%) currently go downtown for entertainment purposes just a few times a year or less. Instead, they choose to go to Santa Cruz for entertainment or Gilroy for shopping. Currently, Spanish speaking respondents are significantly more likely to go Downtown for entertainment at least once a week (45%) compared to English speaking respondents (21%).
A theater is the most universally desired new business Downtown across English and Spanish speaking members of the community as well as visitors. It made the top 3 list for 34% of all respondents. English speaking community members also expressed a strong desire for a bowling alley (41%) and restaurants (36%). More restaurants also made the top 3 list of 39% of visitors to the city. Spanish speakers expressed a desire for family oriented activities like a playground (36%) and kids gymnasium (36%). Indoor and outdoor music venues also finished in the top third of all available choices, respondents selected them 24% of the time. Bars and nightclubs were selected only 11% of the time making them presumably less important.
Overall, the majority (55%) of Watsonville respondents favor increased alcohol sales that enable more entertainment uses. However, this preference is much stronger among English speakers than Spanish speakers (67% vs. 40%). Several comments alluded to the fact that Watsonville doesn’t need more dive bars. An overwhelming majority of Watsonville respondents (86%) believe that venues that sell alcohol should have to pay fees to offset their public impact (similar to the Deemed Approved Ordinance in place in Santa Cruz). 81% of Watsonville respondents believe local businesses and products should be prioritized for new permits. 70% of respondents support a distance requirement between venues that sell alcohol and 87% support a distance requirement between these venues and important local institutions like schools or the library.
In summary, when it comes to alcohol, Watsonville respondents primarily want to see it in support of culturally enriching businesses like farm-to-table restaurants, local wineries, live music, or theater and museum cafes. These businesses will have to draw English speaking residents and visitors since these are the groups who express the strongest desire for them. These types of businesses are also the ones most likely to create the variety of choice frequently mentioned by respondents as the biggest possible attraction for them in the open- ended comments. Comments also suggest that a culturally diverse customer base for Downtown will foster a greater sense of safety.