January 23, 2004

Most San Diegans Wary of Tijuana

January KPBS/CERC Poll Tests Local Opinions on Southern Neighbor

The latest KPBS/Competitive Edge Research Poll shows that San Diegans are cautious of their Mexican neighbor to the south. By well over a 2 to 1 margin residents seek tighter restrictions at the border, as opposed to a more open barrier between the two countries. However, public opinion remains open to the possibility of closer civic ties between San Diego and Tijuana.

San Diego residents generally cast a wary eye south of the border. Less than one-third of County residents hold a favorable impression of Tijuana, while 40 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 32 percent are either unsure or neutral. One-in-six hold a “very unfavorable” opinion of the city, while 12 percent say their impression is very favorable.

In addition, most San Diegans do not cross the local border on a regular basis. Just one out of every ten San Diegans visits Tijuana more than once or twice per year and only 4 percent make the trip every week. On the other hand 12 percent have never been to Tijuana.

Those who visit Tijuana regularly starkly disagree with non-visits in their assessment of the city. Sixty-five percent of those crossing the border more than once per month have a favorable opinion of the city. Even among those who visit once or twice per year, impressions are actually more favorable than unfavorable. But 52 percent of those who have never set foot in the town —those with no first-hand knowledge— have a negative impression of Tijuana.

The overwhelming majority of those who visit Tijuana continue to use it as a playground, not as a business partner. Seventy-one percent of San Diegans visit Tijuana mainly for pleasure; that is for recreation or to shop, eat or attend events. Another 7 percent say they visit family and friends. Only 7 percent visit Tijuana for business, education or medical care. Even among regular visitors, over half visit for pleasure ad 12 percent have business in the city.

Opinion is set squarely against creating an “open” border. Only 17 percent are in favor of a more open border with less government presence, while 46 percent would like the border area to become more restrictive. Thirty percent of respondents like things the way they are.

Though support for a less restrictive international border is quite weak, strengthening business and cultural ties between San Diego and Tijuana receives some support. Thirty-seven percent of San Diegans say they would like to see ties with Tijuana strengthened, while 35 percent feel ties are presently adequate and 16 percent are unsure. Only about 10 percent feel current ties are too strong.

For the complete poll results, go to www.kpbs.org..

About the Poll

The KPBS/Competitive Edge Research Poll is a partnership between KPBS and Competitive Edge Research & Communication (CERC). The monthly poll examines the attitudes and opinions of San Diego County residents toward issues they face.

KPBS, 89.5 FM and Channel 15/Cable 11, is a broadcast service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, radio and Internet contest that is educational as well as entertaining —and free of commercial interruption. Competitive Edge Research is San Diego’s premiere civic, political and market research firm, serving the County since 1987.

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