Poll: Less Than a Third of St. Pete Wants 'Lens'

StPetePolls has released its latest results. Less than a third of St. Pete wants the 'Lens,' slightly more than half want to get rid of red light cameras and Mayor Bill Foster leads mayoral race.

If a lawsuit and a second petition drive against Michael Maltzan's "Lens" were not enough proof that St. Pete does not like the design slated to replace the St. Petersburg Pier, a new poll also shows minimal public support. 

According to the latest results from StPetePolls, only 30 percent of the 1,916 survey respondents think the "Lens" pier should be built. More than 55 percent do not think it should be built while 14 percent are unsure. 

On Dec. 6, city council voted 7-1 to approve the next phase of funding for the design. While it approved the design, council did put in road blocks for future funding sources so each step will have to be passed by council in increments. 

Council did this in case 'Stop the Lens' is successful in its petition drive, so it could halt the "Lens" construction process. 

According to StPetePolls, there is something else the public wishes to halt — red light cameras. Nearly 54 percent respondents told StPetePolls that they do not think it was a good thing for the city to install the cameras. 

Thursday, council will hear an official report on the first year results of the red light camera program. City staff, despite overall crashes being up at intersections with red light cameras, is recommending nine additional red light cameras in St. Pete.

StPetePolls conducted its scientific survey on Dec. 17 among registered voters within St. Petersburg.

Other results from the December 17 survey from St. Pete Polls include:

  • 45.5 percent of respondents think city council is doing a good job while 55.5 percent do not.
  • 54.3 percent approve of Mayor Bill Foster compared to 45.7 who do not
  • St. Pete is unsure on the local hiring ordinance with only 29 percent for, 23 percent against and 47 percent unsure. 

Finally, in a hypothetical race for mayor between Foster, Kathleen Ford, Rick Kriseman and Scott Wagman, Foster holds a sizeable advantage with 31.8 percent support. The next closed candidate was Ford with 18.1 percent support. Those undecided are the largest number for the St. Pete mayoral race at 35.6 percent. 

DRaymond December 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM
I'd question the validity of this poll. It was done as a robocall to land lines during daytime hours, effectively eliminating people that work, use cell phones or use caller ID to screen calls. Most people, when presented with the options for the Pier, including the costs, understand that keeping the existing structure is not a viable course of action. It's time to move forward.
StPete Polls December 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM
This poll was conducted from 4pm to 8pm on Monday night. It was a robo-call, but you can also call in and take the poll on your own timeframe by calling the number that appears on callerID, and over 100 people that took the poll did that. We did not only call land lines, we use the voter database which contains cellphones as well. We also selected a representative sample of the voters of St Petersburg to ensure accurate results. The results for the Lens pier question are pretty consistent with the last several polls we have done on this subject. And as for our accuracy, we did very well predicting the November election results last month, with all of our last round of polling results being within the margin of error of the final official election results. Our polling methodologies work, and are accurate.
Johann December 19, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Of COURSE the poll is skewed, because it didn't provide YOU the results YOU wanted....
Tripoverthings December 19, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I know that any change to the current pier would be an improvement. The current building is horrible.
Bill H. December 19, 2012 at 01:42 PM
They still won't listen.
Babak December 19, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I personally don't see what all the fuss about The Lens is all about? It looks a million times better than the ghetto looking pier we have now. Yeah yeah all the locals go on about the "fond memories" they have and what not. The same old guard was complaining when the beautiful Million Dollar Pier was replaced with the current upside-down monstrosity. People fear change, simple. I would vote to increase my taxes if it meant we got a cool pier where I can go fish. So we tear down the old pier and argue for the next 5 years about what to put in its place? That is so illogical its mind boggling!!!
robin wilson December 19, 2012 at 02:15 PM
This isn't about how much better the Lens will look. Or "fond memories". It's about what will fund the upkeep? Yes it's obviously prettier, and visually appealing, but how will it be paid for AFTER the $50 mill is used to build it. It's great that you want somewhere cool to go fish but what will make it sustainable financially. No one has addressed that. Currently the pier has restaurants, an aquarium, shops... stuff for people to "do" and shop at while visiting the pier. (Nothing exciting in my opinion, don't misunderstand) But at least there are tenants paying rent. What will be at this Lens? I seriously want to know, as I'm sure most St. Pete residents would.
Rider December 19, 2012 at 02:26 PM
ghetto pier that we have now? Babak, you gotta get out more and see a real ghetto!.....and you want the City to spend $50 million on a pier so you can fish? Really? A fishing pier could probably be built for a million or so. Whatever!
Steven A. Culbreath December 19, 2012 at 02:40 PM
No disrespect to Mansell, but if the article is about the "Lens", why are other unrelated issues (red light cameras, mayoral races) being thrown in??? not good journalism. Keep the issues separate, please. The general public is too easily confused as it is. Let's keep the lemmings focused on one issue at a time. :-)
Antonio December 19, 2012 at 02:41 PM
How is sampling 0.7% of the 244,769 residents in St. Pete be considered an accurate survey? Especially how St. Pete Polls allows you to "can also call in and take the poll on your own". This just allows for a motivated group to skew the numbers. Sorry but you'll need more than .7% of the public surveyed for me to buy into this!
Antonio December 19, 2012 at 02:48 PM
That's exactly what the new Design is about, the tenants on the current Pier don't gross a profit from selling candles and T-Shirts to fully pay the "rent". I think the city pays like 1.5mil a year just to keep it open. With no tenants its is much less of a loss to operate.
beichler December 19, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Funny, the "rents" you talk about are tax payer subsidized. We spend $1.5 Million a year so tourist can get a bad meal out there. The people of St. Pete do not visist the Pier. Take a look at the Lens Plan. There are resturants and things to do. The problem is that people who are uninformed spout off on these forums without looking at the facts. For real info look at: http://www.thenewstpetepier.com/
StPete Polls December 19, 2012 at 02:59 PM
We were surveying voters, not all residents. The universe of voters in St. Pete is about 156,000. Also, we use a representative sample of those voters, not all of them, and if you are not in the sample of voters and your phone number is not in our list, you can take the poll but your vote will not count in the end tally. This is how we prevent ballot stuffing, and it does work. As for the sample size, most polls sample about 600. We try for a larger sample to lower the margin of error and have the results be as accurate as possible. As for the accuracy of our results, we confirmed that we are very accurate by how well we did at predicting the results of the election last month.
Patton Hunter December 19, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Thank you StPetePolls. You're doing a great job, whether I agree with the results or not. The red light camera issue was poorly reported by the TBT, leading readers who looked only at the headline and the first few paragraphs to believe that the camera use was instrumental in the higher number of crashes. The article eventually got around to stating that the increase in crashes was not related to the cameras. Perhaps a case of journalistic slanting of facts to get the response the writer wanted. And possibly the reason your polls showed more than 50 percent of the public wants the cameras gone. Hard to tell.
JW December 19, 2012 at 08:59 PM
You forgot to write that it was paid for by Stop the Lens. Robo calls are a joke. How educated are those folks on the issues. Ask them if they want to save a million in subsidy every year by replacing the existing pier and see what the results are.
StPete Polls December 19, 2012 at 09:16 PM
This poll was absolutely NOT paid for by any political or issue group. We also do not have any affiliation with any political or issue group. We are an independent, non-partisan organization. We conduct polls and release the results, and we stand by those results as accurate given our methodology and history of accurate results. As for our client-paid polls, we don't release them under our name. If the client wants to release them they can, but we don't. Also, we have conducted several client-paid polls in the weeks leading up to the last election that clients were not very happy with the results. But our job is to be as accurate as possible, not to tell a client what they want to hear. I do appreciate the question suggestion, and we can put a similar question in the next St Pete Poll we do the first week in February. From the most recent numbers that I have seen, the subsidy reduction would be from $700,000 to $800,000, instead of a million. So we would phrase a question something like this: "Would you support replacing the existing pier if the result was a reduction in the operating subsidy of up to $800,000 per year?" That question of course does not specify the Lens pier as the replacement though, would you think it should or not?
Pamela December 20, 2012 at 02:05 AM
You are a transplant ,go change your home town so nu#%y transplants have a new shiney thing thet looks like some space ship. It does not match the Spanish architecture our city is famous for.What next demolish the colesium because it dosen't meet the perceived standards.It is another bay walk fiasco. It is a ploy to make it similar to the Dali museum.Just because people move here and are always wanting the city to cater to their whims because I spent this on my property tax.The wealthy who push the rest of us around ,make us settle for a. Hair brained idea. It is Ugly,It also looks like it would take of like a frisbee in tropical storm......
Johann December 20, 2012 at 03:47 AM
That there thing will look like a Chinese Star embedded in the side of the Bayfront Tower after the first good windstorm. I don't have insurance for flying piers!!!!! STOP!!
JW December 20, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Bud Risser of Stop the Lens has funded multiple polls on this subject in the past therefor the reference. If he's not funding this one so be it. I would love to see how people feel about the subsidy issue. They did vote to tax them selves for sunken gardens but that was much less. - "Would you support replacing the existing pier if this action resulted in a $800,000 yearly reduction in taxpayer subsidies or approximately $60,000,000 reduction over it's 75 year lifespan."
JW December 20, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Building a new Police station only received 38% approval and it's not nearly as contentious from a waterfront or historic standpoint. Would we ever build another city building if the decision was based on this type of polling. The average voter especially outside of the downtown does not know the complexity of the issues. Do they even realize that the TIF money for this is only provided by downtown property owners. Many of which are which are businesses. There is a knee jerk against tax expenditures in general but the new pier will save subsidy which is in deed paid by every property owner in St. Petersburg.
StPete Polls December 20, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I like the first part of the question, but estimating the lifetime subsidy over a 75 year span is incredibly difficult and is not something the city attempted to do beyond 20 years, so I would want to leave that part out. Would this be acceptable: "Would you support replacing the existing pier if this action resulted in a $800,000 yearly reduction in taxpayer subsidies?"
StPete Polls December 20, 2012 at 03:33 PM
The new police station question was based upon their old $60 million plan, not the current plan which is substantially reduced in cost and features. The massive parking enclosure and other features they deemed as non-essential were dropped, which might have an effect on current support level. I think you just gave me another question idea: "Do you support the new scaled-back plans to build a new police headquarters?" As for localized support for the Lens pier, we did analyze results by zipcode, and there were still more people in 33701 who do not support the Lens pier than there are people that support the Lens: 33701 results only, do you think that the Lens pier should be built? (151 responses) Yes: 38.4% (58) No: 53.6% (81) Unsure: 7.9% (12)
JW December 20, 2012 at 05:41 PM
The new plan for the police station is still 40 plus million construction costs which is still above the 37 million construction costs for the Pier. The tough thing on these questions is the supporting information and what you choose to give them. Do you assume they now what was scaled back and what the cost would be. What ongoing maintenance and efficiency is lost without a full station. Is evidence still located in a separate building etc. The Lens question is really a multiple choice question to get down to what folks opinion is. Some want no pier/no subsidy, some what the existing(but renovation funds would not accommodate cars and the first floor is gone so it's not really the existing at that point), Some want the million dollar pier, and some want something else but they can't visualize what that is. Anyone with one of those other opinions will say no to the Lens. This isn't a election between to candidates. It's a subject with multiple opinions and options making consensus or full even majority extremely difficult.
Nicolas Weathersbee December 20, 2012 at 07:03 PM
When asked, the city says they do not know what the subsidy will be on the lens, but, lol, they know it will be less. How do they know it will be less if they don't know what it will be? lmao...they also say they need less parking because they expect less visitation...wat? A refurbished pier would have less of a subsidy as well since much of the subsidy is maintaining the approach. A new approach would have much less maintenance. Lisa Wannemacher, in her presentations, compares the circa 1926 piling configuration(what we have now) to the proposed lens piling configuration, saying that the lens would have less maintenance costs. This is totally insulting to our intelligence, and is completely disingenuous, as a new approach would have less pilings than the current layout by a long shot. To compare the lens pilings to ones installed close together in 1926 is total bunk,
JW December 20, 2012 at 08:44 PM
The Basis of Design had a full conservative breakdown that did not include any revenues from events or tenants. The number was 800,000 less than the current pier so yes they now have a answer to that question. The current 1.4-1.5 million dollar tax payer "operations" subsidy which does not include maintenance and capital improvement which have averaged another 500-600,000 dollars per year currently. We can agree that this maintenance number should be eliminated for a period of time in any option therefore its not a discussion point. However if you do a Air conditioned building those systems will need maintenance escalating in in 5-10 years.
Babak December 22, 2012 at 09:10 PM
our city is famous for Mediterranean revival architecture, not Spanish. Where do you live? Here is some good info on our city since you don't seem to know much about St Pete or our culture. http://www.stpete.org/history.asp
Babak December 22, 2012 at 09:12 PM
why do we have elected officials if we are going to take every issue to the voters? you elect officials to make those decisions for you. perhaps you should read up on how democracies work.


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