PALM BEACH, Fla. — A resident opinion survey released by the City of West Palm Beach last month reveals that the city’s white residents want more green space while its black residents would prefer more affordable housing. Kerr and Downs Research conducted the survey that queried 600 residents by telephone, 198 of whom were black residents (33 percent), over a ten-day period in June. The percentage of blacks included in the survey is in alignment with the latest Census figures that say 32.5 percent of West Palm Beach residents are black.
Commissioners Sylvia Moffett, (D-1), Cory Neering (D-2) and Paula Ryan (D-3) represent districts with at least 43 percent African-Americans. Sixteen percent of the residents in Commissioner Keith James’ district are black. James is African-American.
Although 93 percent of residents reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods during the day and 82 percent said that they felt safe at night, crime was still cited as the most pressing concern. According to the report, crime was a greater concern to long-term residents and African-Americans, while older residents were more concerned about traffic. More than half of District 2 residents said that crime was their biggest concern.
On the subject of taxes, whites and high-income residents were more likely to think they received an excellent or very good value for taxes paid vs. services received. African-Americans were more likely to maintain they received a fair or poor value.
Eighty-three percent of younger residents, 87 percent of African Americans, and 87 percent of low-income residents were more likely to favor building more affordable housing.
The typical study participant was 47 years old, has lived in West Palm Beach for 17 years and has an annual household income of $53,200. Seventy percent of those surveyed were homeowners and the respondents were evenly split between males and females.
After concersn about crime and traffic, housing costs and economic development ranked third and fourth, respectively. Hispanics and long-term residents were most concerned about housing costs, while younger residents were also more worried about economic development.
Nearly half of the respondents rated the quality of life in West Palm Beach as “excellent” or “very good.” Residents in District 4 gave more high marks for the quality of life, while residents of District 3 gave more poor marks.
Just over half of residents (51 percent) had visited the City’s website in the past six months with District 5 residents being more likely to have done so. High-income residents and middle-aged residents visited the website more frequently.
Four out of five residents of District 3 (81 percent) favored building more affordable housing. Younger residents (83 percent), African Americans (87 percent), and low-income residents (87 percent) were more likely to favor building more affordable housing.
The survey also asked residents how frequently they visited the city’s waterfront and five out of six residents (84%) responded favorably; with 36% claiming to go there at least weekly. Residents of Districts 3 and 5 more frequently visited the waterfront, and residents of District 4 were less likely to do so.
High-income residents, middle-aged residents, and whites visited the waterfront more frequently. Walking/hanging out on the City Docks was the most frequently cited activity along the waterfront, cited by 66 percent of residents, while 44 percent of residents indicated that they have ended events at the waterfront.
Residents in District 5 (83 percent) overwhelmingly favored buying more green space. Four out of five residents of District 3 (81 percent) favored building more affordable housing.
To read the entire report, visit http://wpb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015-West-Palm-Beach-Report-Electronic.pdf.