US Saint Index 2010: Americans More Willing To Support Commercial Projects

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Recession Curbs ‘Not In My Back Yard’ Response
HINGHAM, MA — August 3, 2010 — The economic recession has made Americans more willing to support new commercial projects in their community, new data shows.

Of 1,000 adults interviewed nationwide, 68 percent said they are more likely to support new projects in their hometown in light of the current economic situation. That is up nearly 10 percent from one year ago, according to the annual Saint Index© survey of U.S. attitudes about real estate projects and development.

Opposition to several types of big retail projects continued to drop, especially when compared to attitudes measured five years ago. Opposition fell — and support increased — for a local Wal- Mart, a large department store (Target, K-mart) and a home improvement center (Home Depot, Lowe’s).
Saint Index 2010 results suggest the prolonged economic downturn is undermining America’s Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) attitude, but interviews also found resistance to development persists when Americans look at their own community.

“It is a significant trend that more Americans say they support projects and fewer are opposed,” Patrick Fox, president of The Saint Consulting Group, said. “But anyone wanting to get a project approved should also know that three out of four Americans also believe their city or town is already over-developed or fine the way it is.”

When considering their own community in that context, 74 percent of American adults don’t want new development. Just 24 percent said their hometown needs new development.
Asked what type of development project they’d most like to see in their community, one in four Americans (26%) still said, “none” — by far the most common response.
The most unwanted projects are a landfill (74 percent opposed), a casino (72 percent) and a quarry (59 percent).

The Saint Index is conducted annually by The Saint Consulting group to track and quantify the politics of land use, including who actively opposes and supports real estate projects and why. The 2010 U.S. Saint Index involved interviews with 1,000 American adults randomly selected from the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The maximum margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence rate. The interviews were conducted in June.


Opposition Down Over Past Five Years
(2010 vs. 2006)
•    Wal-Mart: 54% vs. 63%
•    Large shopping center/mall: 56%vs. 62%
•    Home Depot/Lowes: 44% vs. 55%
•    Power Plant: 54% vs. 66%

Most Supported
•    Single-Family Homes: 87% support
•    Grocery: 74% support

Attitudes on Development
•    73% grade their community C or worse when it comes to deciding what does and does not get built.
•    62% believe the approval process for commercial real estate projects is unfair.

Who Fights Development And Why
•    The Mid-Atlantic is the most actively NIMBY region, followed by the Northeast. •    The Midwest is the region most welcoming to local development. •    77% opposition to local development in the South is up from 47% three years ago.
•    The most active NIMBYs are age 46-65, suburban, college or post-grad educated, live in the Western region of the U.S., and have an annual household income of $50,000 to 75,000 or over $100,000.
•    Key reasons for opposition to a project are protecting community character (23%), protecting the environment (22%) and protecting the value of a home or real estate (16%). Other reasons for opposition include fear of too much new traffic (13%) and that the project is too close to the person’s home (13%).
•    One in five families have actively opposed a development project. Politicization of Development Process
•    67% believe the relationship between developers and elected officials makes the land use approval process unfair.
•    87% say a candidate’s position on growth is important at election time. Trends on Changing Attitudes

Download Press Release With Charts, Year-by-Year Results: Saint Index Overview Release 8-3-10

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