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More residents contemplating leaving Bay Area, says poll

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Number of those “likely to move” up to 46 percent

The Bay Area from the wing of a plane. Photo by Eric Broder Van Dyke/Shutterstock

The Bay Area Council (a business-sponsored public policy advocacy group) released results of its annual survey on how disgruntled Bay Area residents feel. And once again the number of responses indicating potential departures is way up.

The poll covered 1,000 current Bay Area households, 120 of them from San Francisco. Alameda and Santa Clara Counties were the biggest contributors to the poll at 220 responses each.

Here’s the breakdown of our regional breakdown:

  • First, the bad news: 46 percent of those asked called themselves “likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years,” up from 40 percent in 2017, which was up from 36 percent in 2016. The number of those who “strongly agree” they’re likely to move is also up, comprising 26 percent of the total response this year.
  • Only 25 percent of those polled say they think the region is “on the right track.” That’s down from 42 percent last year and 57 percent four years ago. On the other hand, 55 percent say things are “on the wrong track” (last year it was just 42 percent).
  • Asked about the biggest problem facing the Bay Area, 42 percent said housing, which is up a 14 points year over year. Traffic came in second with 18 percent, with poverty and the cost of living vying close behind at 14 and 12 percent, respectively. (Only six percent cited development and “overpopulation.”)
  • And—no surprise—among those contemplating a move the most common complaint was the cost of using (45 percent cited it as their primary incentive, although this is actually down quite a bit from last year’s 55 percent). The second biggest gripe was “cost of living”—closely related to housing and in some contexts the same thing—at 27 percent. Nothing else broke double digits.
  • Asked where residents might move, a plurality (21 percent) said they would move anywhere cheaper, while 16 percent said “elsewhere in California” (i.e. not SF, LA, San Diego, or Sacramento). The next most common reply was “I don’t know” at 15 percent, while 10 percent set eyes on Texas.

The curious can see the full results here.

As always it’s wise to be cautious about these numbers, as it is one poll and the big swings in certain figures might reflect a weird sample or a temporary sour attitude in some regions.

Of course, just because people say they’re “likely to move away” doesn’t mean they will. The significance of the replies lies probably not in the potential for a Bay exodus, but rather that as a measure of regional morale. Or the lack thereof.

That said, a steady steam of polls going back several years indicates a weary attitude about housing, and those bad vibes can’t help but translate into some concrete action sooner or later.