In the first salvo fired in the Malibu incorporation campaign, the Hughes Aircraft Co. has hired a public opinion research firm to canvass residents of the famed coastal town for a survey that cityhood advocates say is designed to spread misinformation about incorporation.
Officials at Hughes, which employs about 500 at its research laboratory in the hills above Malibu's Civic Center, deny the charge. They say the opinion poll is designed strictly for "in-house use" for employees, executives and shareholders.
The Malibu research lab employs about 500 scientists and technicians. Hughes officials had sought to have the research lab removed from the proposed city boundaries, but their request was rejected by Local Agency Formation Commission members, who approved Malibu's cityhood petition in May.
James Hurt, director of public affairs for Hughes, said the survey of 350 Malibu residents was completed over the weekend and that the results will be compiled in two or three weeks.
He said results will be released only to Hughes employees, adding that the survey was designed solely to provide information to workers and shareholders who might be affected by incorporation in Malibu.
However, cityhood backers and others who were contacted by the telephone pollsters, working out of Utah, said the questions in the survey were packed with false information and misleading statements about Malibu incorporation.
Residents were asked to respond to questions on whether they believed traffic congestion would increase if Malibu incorporated and whether they would vote for cityhood if their taxes were increased 5%, 10% and 25%.