Development, The Fairmont Miramar & The Huntley Hotel

Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013, 8:56:00 AM

Brenton Garen

The Mirror would like to clarify details on the article published Oct. 18 “Poll Shows Residents Don’t Favor Dense, Tall Buildings” that contained a survey question relating to the Fairmont Miramar’s redevelopment project. The Mirror was unable to confirm who paid for the poll before time of press, but can now report that The Huntley Hotel contracted with Lake Research Partners to conduct a telephone poll of 404 Santa Monica voters between September 10 and 15.  

Lake Research Partners partner Dr. Bob Meadow confirmed there were more than three questions asked that were part of the poll (only three questions from the poll were publicly released).

“There were more questions asked that are proprietary, and for internal purposes of our client, and will not be released,” Meadow said. “It is quite common for only those questions that are of broad public interest to be released.”  

As the feud between the Fairmont Miramar and The Huntley continues regarding the Fairmont’s redevelopment plans, The Mirror will continue to report both sides.

Below are follow-up statements from both sides regarding the poll.

On behalf of the Fairmont Miramar, MSD Capital’s Alan Epstein:

After weeks of denying their involvement, we are not surprised that the Huntley Hotel has finally confessed that they were behind this one-sided, biased poll. If it was not biased in the way questions were asked, they would have released the entire survey and results. This is a typical PR ploy from the same consulting team that hid almost $100,000 in political contributions in the last city election.

Fortunately, Santa Monica residents are too sophisticated to be misled by the Huntley.

We have known about this survey for weeks. We know the deliberately misleading questions that were asked and we know that the Huntley’s paid telephone operators pushed people toward certain responses, without giving them honest options.   We know that they only released three questions from a 20 minute survey.

That being said, there is no place in America where you can ask the question “do you want more development” and get an answer any different than the Huntley got. However, when you ask Santa Monicans the following questions (and we have), you get a very different response:

• Would you like to see the Miramar Hotel redeveloped with fewer walls and fences and substantially more open space?

• Would you like to see the Miramar Hotel redeveloped so that it is taller and thinner, in essentially the same footprint that has existed since 1957, so that it does not impact ocean views?

• Would you like to see the Miramar Hotel redeveloped with a housing component that will include a substantial number of new affordable housing units?

• Would you like to see the Miramar Hotel redeveloped in a manner that will increase revenues to the City by more than $5 million a year?

As we have made clear in previous communications, the Huntley has a simple agenda:

1. Stop all competition.

2. Fight unions. The non-union Huntley hotel has refused to offer their workers fair wages and benefits that all of the union hotels in Santa Monica provide.

3. Stop the building of affordable housing on Second Street.

The Huntley will do anything to divert attention away from their own building, which is one of the tallest and most dense in the city. It is almost triple the density of the proposed Miramar Plan and has ZERO open space, and could never be built under the zoning that the Huntley now proposes. It will even mislead reporters to hide their own involvement.

When people see misinformation about the Miramar Plan, they should consider who is secretly bankrolling it.  We ask only that Santa Monicans judge the Miramar Plan on its merits.

On behalf of the Huntley Hotel, Sugerman Communications Group’s Heather Herndon:

The Huntley Hotel contracted with Lake Research Partners to conduct a telephone poll of 404 Santa Monica voters between September 10 and 15.  Lake Research Partners is a nationally renowned public opinion firm with clients that include some of the largest and most well-respected institutions in the country. These include UCLA, The Gates Foundation, AFL-CIO, the National League of Cities, the American Cancer Society, Human Rights Campaign, as well as scores of political candidates from around the country. You should check the website to learn more about Lake Research at www.lakeresearch.com.

Dr. Bob Meadow, Partner at Lake Research, oversaw the poll. Formerly a professor at USC among other schools, he has over 25 years of experience and is considered one of the top Democratic pollsters in the country.

Lake Research used professional telephone interviewers to ask a range of questions, using well-established survey methodology. The results, with a +/- 4.9% margin of error, show clearly that:

• Fifty-two percent of voters favor less development while only 15 percent favor more.

• Sixty-nine percent opposed changing the height and density requirements to allow more high-rise and higher density buildings in Santa Monica, with only 26 percent favoring changing the height and density requirements.

• Fifty-seven percent of voters oppose the Miramar’s expansion plans.

As Dr. Meadow’s noted in his response, “… There were more questions asked that are proprietary, and for internal purposes of our client, and will not be released. It is quite common for only those questions that are of broad public interest to be released.”  

In fact, for the reason that Dr. Meadow notes, it is rare for an entire poll to be released publicly.   

In short, this poll was conducted by nationally renowned experts using well-established survey methodology with statistically valid results.

Disliking a poll’s outcome is not a valid reason to “discredit the poll itself.”

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