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Poll Shows New Jersey Residents Strongly Support Regional Approach to Rebuilding After Sandy

December 10th, 2012 by

A new Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll released Dec. 10, 2012, indicates that the overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents want the Jersey Shore rebuilt, but in a thoughtful, responsible and cost-effective manner. The poll also showed strong support for using tax dollars for almost all rebuilding and resilience efforts.

Among the most important findings for policy-makers, the poll shows more than 70 percent favor establishment of a regional entity such as a coastal commission to coordinate planning and rebuilding, and two-thirds favor allowing state regulators to determine which coastal areas can be rebuilt, based on storm risk assessments.

“These results show that New Jerseyans regard the Shore as a unique and valuable asset,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “It’s an interconnected system, and the fact that most residents recognize the wisdom of coordinating the rebuilding effort on a regional level is very encouraging.

“Clearly, residents want their tax dollars spent wisely and their treasured Shore rebuilt in such a way as to be able to withstand future weather events with minimized risk,” he added. “These poll results should give officials at all levels the assurance they need to look at the Shore as one region with unique needs, and to focus on protecting its long-term health, both environmental and economic.”

A Dec. 7 conference at Monmouth University, co-hosted by New Jersey Future, stressed the need for coordination of rebuilding efforts among officials at all levels, and highlighted the importance of preparing the Shore more effectively for increasingly likely future extreme weather events.

Among other key poll findings:

  • Almost half say it is very important to repair the Shore in time for next summer’s tourist season, but two-thirds say it shouldn’t be rushed if that would push up costs;
  • Two-thirds favor allowing towns in high-risk areas to impose a short-term moratorium on rebuilding to allow time for new plans and codes to be developed;
  • Almost 90 percent favor stricter building codes in affected areas;
  • Eighty percent favor using tax dollars to restore existing wetlands and bays to serve as storm buffers;
  • Two-thirds favor allowing homeowners in high-risk areas to rebuild only if they allow dunes or sea walls in front of their properties.

Full results from the poll may be found here.

Survey responses from conference:

Attendees at the Dec. 7 conference participated in a shorter version of the same poll.  Of the 141 respondents, just over half live in Monmouth or Ocean County and four in ten (42 percent) identify their main affiliation as a professional in planning or a related field.  The results are similar to those of the statewide poll, but support was stronger for most initiatives.  Two areas where conference attendees show less support are for “using state tax dollars to rebuild private homes” (25 percent vs. 40 percent statewide) and to “replenish with sand every few years” (55 percent vs. 74 percent statewide). 

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