Crain's Insider is reporting today on its online poll about how New Yorkers feel about Wal-Mart coming to the city. The Crain's poll found that "Fifty-seven percent of the 1,069 respondents said that the retailer should be permitted to enter, while only 43% said the retailer should be kept out."
An interesting side note is that the poll also found that, "Most of the respondents said that the city should not be deciding which retailers are allowed to operate in New York." All of which underscores the fact that polls are only as good as the questions asked. In 1996, when Mayor Guiliani was trying to eliminate the ULURP process for the siting of megastores the City Council overwhelmingly rejected a plan that would have eliminated any Council oversight. This was strongly supported by New Yorkers all over the city.
Now, if Crain's had asked its respondents whether they would like to have the city's ULURP process overturned so there would be absolutely no community review of box stores and shopping centers we wonder what the results would have shown? This is the essence of this particular public policy debate.
In addition, take notice of the fact that the Crain's poll, unlike the one done by Wal-Mart itself, found that there are millions of New Yorkers (43% of 8 million, do the math) who simply don't want the Walmonster anywhere in the city. Combine these folks with the large percentage of folks who wouldn't want the store anywhere near their neighborhood and you have a potent opposition indeed.