The Preservation Foundation

Survey Poll Shows 63.8% of Palm Beach Residents Oppose Condominiums at Royal Poinciana Plaza
Posted Date 02/09/2010

Survey Poll Shows 63.8% of Palm Beach Residents Oppose Condominiums at Royal Poinciana Plaza; Only 18.5% Support

A just-conducted survey poll of Palm Beach residents shows an overwhelming majority are against the building of condominiums at the landmarked Royal Poinciana Plaza.  63.8% oppose condominiums at Royal Poinciana Plaza with only 18.5% supporting.  The survey poll was sponsored by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

The Foundation used the well-respected and award-winning political communications firm of The Clinton Group and its sister data collection company American Directions Group (formerly CCI) to conduct the survey poll. Most recently, they were awarded three 2009 American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) Pollie Awards, the highest honors the political consulting and public affairs community bestows on their industry.  Among their clients are the American Medical Association, the Federal Government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Wildlife Federation, the American Institute of Architects, and the Maryland State Teachers Association.

American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) standards were followed throughout.  Based on the number of 8000 registered voters in Palm Beach a survey size group was identified of 500 complete calls, telephone hang-ups or refusals not being counted towards the sample.  In the end, 509 calls were completed.  This sampling created a margin of error of +/- 4.12%. 

A Random-Digit-Dial (RDD) system was used to make the calls.  RDD lists are essentially intelligently generated numbers using known exchanges within the town instead of bought phone lists.  RDD lists provide everyone with an opportunity to participate in the survey, whether listed or unlisted.  It is commonplace for surveys to use RDD lists so as to eliminate bias related to calling only listed numbers.

For 5 days, from Thursday, February 4, 2010 to Monday, February 8, 2010 the survey poll was run asking residents by phone the question, “Are you for or against the construction of new condominiums at the Royal Poinciana Plaza?”

The results showed:

- 8.1% were strongly for and 10.4% were somewhat for the construction of new condominiums at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.  That makes a total 18.5% for the construction of new condominiums at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.
- 17.7% had no preference either way for or against the construction of new condominiums at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.
- 47.5% were strongly against and 16.3% were somewhat against the construction of new condominiums at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.  That makes a total 63.8% against the construction of new condominiums at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.

So as to get the fairest results possible, callers identified themselves anonymously as calling only from a national research company.  Further, the actual callers operating the phones were kept unaware of who was sponsoring the survey poll.  Respondents were asked to confirm themselves as Town of Palm Beach residents.  Names were not asked for so as to achieve the most accurate, balanced and fair results.  The entire Town of Palm Beach was included in the survey poll.

Given that the building of condominiums at the landmarked Royal Poinciana Plaza is an issue related not only to landmarking, but also to major changes in density, zoning and the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, the Foundation finds it a precedent setting issue with possibly compromising effects across the entire town.  With this in mind the Foundation decided to sponsor the survey poll and in keeping with protecting the integrity of the Preservation Foundation intended to publish the results regardless of what they showed of town opinion.

As the Foundation has stated previously, the Sterling Group’s plan violates numerous Town codes, ordinances, and most of all the Town government’s guiding document, the Comprehensive Plan.  As the Foundation has also stated previously, the procedure by which the Sterling Group plan has been handled, with the Town Council instructing the Landmarks Preservation Commission to leave all these considerations of alterations to the Comprehensive Plan and changes in planning and zoning aside, is wrong and sets dangerous precedent across the entire Town government.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent so far by the Town on this.  The rules have been put aside.  Normal process has been put aside.  This survey poll, which cost the Foundation under $5,000, would now argue there is little public support for this plan to go ahead.

In its 30 years the Foundation has donated millions of dollars to the Town, most recently $200,000 for the renovation of Town Hall.  The Foundation certainly has the right to ask why is the Town Council departing from the normal way of business, running Town business in an ineffective and incoherent fashion, undermining its own integrity and eroding public confidence all for the sake of a private commercial enterprise?

****