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What do People Want in NJ? A Review of Key Surveys! Tim Evans ▪ New Jersey Future TransAction ▪ April 11, 2012
New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings together concerned citizens and leaders to promote responsible land-use policies.The organization employs original research, analysis and advocacy to build coalitions and drive land-use policies that help revitalize cities and towns, protect natural lands and farms, provide more transportation choices beyond cars, expand access to safe and affordable neighborhoods and fuel a prosperous economy.
Land-Use Policy Reality CheckMany aspects of growth and development can be described by dataavailable from public sources (Census Bureau, NJDOT, NJ Transit, NJDept of Labor, etc.). But to find out whether and how thesequantitative trends affect people subjectively, you have to ask them.Is what’s important to land-use policy advocates the same as what’simportant to the general public? “The way New Jersey has been developed over the past generation has left an indelible imprint on the state’s economy and quality of life for all residents. Most people look at development from the confines of their immediate surroundings. Urban residents focus on how their cityscapes have changed in the past generation while suburban residents may think more about open spaces.”
Opinions About State PrioritiesQ1. Please tell me whether each is very important, somewhat important, not veryimportant, or not at all important for us to address.A. Attracting new businesses and creating jobsB. Reducing property taxesC. Improving educationD. Protecting farmland and open space from developmentE. Slowing the rate of developmentF. Reducing traffic congestionG. Having a good transportation system of roads and highwaysH. Improving access to public transportationI. Protecting our drinking water supplyJ. Preserving the state’s remaining forestsVery importantSomewhat importantNot very importantNot at all important
Environmental Issues Not Necessarily Taking a Back Seat to Economic Growth “Protecting natural resources, specifically the state’s drinking water supply, is valued as highly by New Jersey residents as encouraging new businesses and job growth. While economic concerns have increased dramatically in the past decade, it’s important to note that New Jerseyans continue to place a high premium on natural resource preservation.”
Weakening Highlands Protections (created by the“Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act”) May Thus Not Be a Popular Move
Don’t Forget About Property TaxesProperty taxes are even more important today than 10 years ago.(Six of the questions on the 2011 survey were also asked on asimilar survey in 2000.)
Pace of Development Not As Big a Concern When Economy Slows Down “New Jerseyans are less likely to view the pace of development negatively than they were ten years ago. This lessening of concern over development is likely tied to current economic conditions. The rate of construction has slowed because of the economy and thus over-development is not perceived as a problem right now.”
“Economy vs. Environment” Is Not a Zero- Sum Game In Public’s Mind“It’s important to note that despite the substantial increase in economicpriorities, other priorities related to sustainability, such as preserving openspace, have not diminished in importance for New Jersey residents.”
Center-Based DevelopmentA4. There has been talkrecently of improving existingtowns and cities where peoplecan walk or take publictransportation to shop or get towork. Do you think New Jerseyhas enough of these types ofcommunities or do we need moreof them?“Many planners emphasize focusing growth and development in existing townsand cities where there are already transportation options and neighborhoods arewithin walking distance of services and transit access. Two-thirds (66%) of NewJerseyans feel that the state needs more of these sustainable communities.”
Center-Based Development“Nearly 3-in-4 New Jerseyans say they would definitely (46%) or probably (27%) like tolive in a community where they could walk to shops or their job and that offered avariety of transportation options.”
Center-Based DevelopmentIf there were more compact, walkable, “downtown”-stylecommunities in New Jersey, would people be willing to trade down toa smaller house to live there?
Redevelopment – Key to RevitalizationA2. Thinking closer to home, do you think there is toomuch, too little, or just the right amount of developmentin your area? Urban residents (32%) are more likely than residents of established towns and suburbs (16%) and expanding suburbs (19%) to say there has been too little development in their area.
Transportation Priorities• Fix-It-First: “When asked which aspects of transportation infrastructure should be prioritized, fully 3-in-4 (75%) rate the maintenance and repair of existing roads and highways as a high priority … Fewer New Jerseyans rate expanding walkways and bikeways (41%) or building new roads (36%) as high priorities.”• Transit: “A majority of 54% give the same high priority rating to expanding and improving train and bus services.“
Transportation Choices“Public transportation in New Jersey is generally perceived as beingsafe, affordable, and convenient. Just under half say public transit inNew Jersey goes where they want to go.” “Just over half (52%) of New Jerseyans say they would like to use public transit or walk or bike more often than they do now. Most transit users say they would like to use transit even more than they do now (64% regular riders and 58% occasional riders). However, few of those who never use transit – just 31% – are inclined to consider it.”
Garden State Quality of Life IndexThe Garden State Quality of Life Index was created by the Monmouth UniversityPolling Institute to serve as a resident-based indicator of the quality of life offeredby the state of New Jersey.The index is based on five separate poll questions:1. Overall, how would you rate New Jersey as a place to live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?2. How would you rate your town or city as a place to live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?3. How would you rate the quality of the environment in the area where you live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?4. How would you rate the job your local schools are doing – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?5. How safe do you feel in your neighborhood at night – very safe, somewhat safe, or not at all safe?
Garden State Quality of Life IndexTracking changes by region of the state: Region is defined by county boundaries: Northeast (Bergen, Passaic), Urban Core (Essex, Hudson), Route 1 Corridor (Mercer, Middlesex, Union), Central Hills (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset), Northern Shore (Monmouth, Ocean), Delaware Valley (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester), and Garden Core (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Sussex, Warren).
Monday, August 1, 2011NEW JERSEY’S QUALITY OFLIFE BY COUNTYHighest in Morris, lowest inCumberland
Garden State Quality of Life IndexPerceptions of quality of life by type of community:“The study also divided New Jersey towns into five different types of communities: Major Urban Centers,the six largest cities; Other Urban Areas, any municipality with a population over 25,000 or a highpopulation density (including Atlantic City, Vineland, and some Union municipalities); Rural Areas, any townwith a population density less than 1,000 people per square mile or a population less than 1,000 (excludingshore towns); Older Towns & Suburbs, any non-urban or non-rural municipality with slower populationgrowth; Growing Suburbs; any non-urban or non-rural municipality with high population growth over thepast two decades.”
Other Development-Related Questions• A5. As things stand now, would you like to move out of New Jersey at some point or would you like to stay here for the rest of your life?• B8. Just your best estimate, on an average day, how much time would you say you spend in a car for all reasons, including work, school, errands, and leisure?• B10. How often do you use public transportation such as buses or trains – every day, several times a week, several times a month, a few times a year, less often, or never?• B14. Thinking about your family’s health, how concerned are you about the quality of the water you drink – very concerned, somewhat concerned, or not very concerned?• B16. How satisfied are you with the availability of open space and parks in the area where you live – very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?