Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crain's poll questions were stunning generalities--and described the CBA as a negotiation

So Crain's New York Business has posted the full results of the poll it commissioned regarding Atlantic Yards.

The conclusion: when asked about the project in stunning generalities, especially deceptive ones about the Community Benefits Agreement, people approve of it. (Yes, polls are by nature general, but we should have gone beyond "jobs, housing, and hoops" by now.)

That's about it, until someone conducts a more specific poll that actually addresses issues of density, public responsibility, facts and promises about affordable housing, and the use of eminent domain.

Below, the poll details, with some comments interpolated.

Respondents 601

1)How closely have you been following news about the Atlantic Yards development project: very closely, fairly closely, not too closely, or not at all?
1) Very closely 6%
2) Fairly closely 14%
3) Not too closely 21%
4) Not at all 56%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 2%

Very/Fairly closely 20%
Not too closely/Not at all 78%

So most people are uninformed. The poll informs them only slightly more, but its inadequate information is what they'll have to rely on.

2)The proposal calls for seventeen buildings, including residential housing, a Nets arena and office buildings in Brooklyn, on 22 acres near Atlantic Ave. which currently have MTA rail yards, empty lots, low rise apartments, abandoned buildings and condos.

Are you very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable to this project?
1) Very favorable 23%
2) Somewhat favorable 37%
3) Somewhat unfavorable 13%
4) Very unfavorable 13%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 15%

Very/Somewhat favorable 60%
Very/Somewhat unfavorable 25%

Here are things people have said about this project.

3)There will be significant costs to the city, including more schools and water and sewer services. Does this raise very serious doubts, serious doubts, some doubts or no doubts about it for you?
1) Very serious doubts 14%
2) Serious doubts 20%
3) Some doubts 26%
4) No doubts 35%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 4%

Very serious/Serious doubts 34%
Some/No doubts 62%

Why not try to quantify the costs--in the billions--and to point out that the costs are not simply city services that any development might create but also subsidies and tax breaks?

4)The project is out of scale with the neighborhood - the buildings are taller, including a 62-story office tower, and it will promote gentrification. Does this raise very serious doubts, serious doubts, some doubts or no doubts about it for you?
1) Very serious doubts 11%
2) Serious doubts 18%
3) Some doubts 29%
4) No doubts 37%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 5%

Very serious/Serious doubts 29%
Some/No doubts 67%

How about saying that the scale is out of line with city zoning? Or that it will promote gentrification even though its backers say it won't? Then again, the poll quotes "things people have said" about AY, rather than approaching clarity.

5)The city's land-use review process was not used to consult the surrounding community. Does this raise very serious doubts, serious doubts, some doubts or no doubts about it for you?
1) Very serious doubts 16%
2) Serious doubts 24%
3) Some doubts 32%
4) No doubts 23%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 6%

Very serious/Serious doubts 40%
Some/No doubts 55%

Do people know what the process is? What if it was pointed out that the city process would require four public hearings and a vote by the City Council, while the fast-track state process involves one poorly-managed public hearing, two follow-up community forums (one on the day of the primary election).

Here are some other things people have said about this project.

Notice how the last three questions are all positive things. Also notice how there's much less middle-ground--the equivalent of "some doubts" above is "not an important benefit" below.

6)The project will provide 2,250 low-, moderate-, and middle-income rental apartments. Is this a very important benefit, an important benefit, not an important benefit or no benefit at all?
1) Very important benefit 46%
2) Important benefit 37%
3) Not an important benefit 7%
4) No benefit at all 7%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 3%

Very important/Important benefit 83%
Not important/No benefit at all 14%

And who exactly would be eligible for those apartments?

7)The developers negotiated with neighborhood groups and agreed to provide affordable housing and construction jobs for local residents. Is this a very important benefit, an important benefit, not an important benefit or no benefit at all?
1) Very important benefit 51%
2) Important benefit 35%
3) Not an important benefit 6%
4) No benefit at all 6%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 2%

Very important/Important benefit 86%
Not important/No benefit at all 12%

The developers negotiated? That's a highly-partial reading of the Community Benefits Agreement. For another interpretation, try Good Jobs New York.

8)The project will bring professional sports back to Brooklyn with the Nets arena. Is this a very important benefit, an important benefit, not an important benefit or no benefit at all?
1) Very important benefit 24%
2) Important benefit 34%
3) Not an important benefit 24%
4) No benefit at all 16%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 3%

Very important/Important benefit 58%
Not important/No benefit at all 40%

9) After hearing this, are you very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable to the Atlantic Yards project?
1) Very favorable 30%
2) Somewhat favorable 41%
3) Somewhat unfavorable 13%
4) Very unfavorable 11%
9) Don't Know/No Response/Refused 5%

Very/Somewhat favorable 71%
Very/Somewhat unfavorable 24%

"After hearing this" suggests that the last three positives are the dispositive issues.

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