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Bay Area favors sales tax for affordable housing, says poll

Survey puts tax hike over needed two-thirds margin

Homes in Presidio Heights Photo by Shutterstock

The Oakland branch of polling group EMC Research released the results of an April voter survey finding that the overwhelming majority of Bay Area voters worry that other people won't be able to find housing and favor a sales tax hike to fund more affordable housing.

EMC quizzed 1,935 likely 2020 voters in all nine Bay Area counties between April 8 and April 17. Among its findings:

  • The idea of a half-cent sales tax hike to create affordable housing passed muster with 66 percent of potential voters voicing approval—crucial, since new taxes must get at least two-thirds of the vote in California.
  • Asked to rate priorities for public spending, voters deemed public education the number one concern, but affordable housing came in a close second, followed by housing availability and homelessness.
  • Overall, 52 percent of residents are worried about finding an affordable place to live, but that number jumps up to 79 percent of renters.
  • Asked whether they are “concerned about low income and disadvantaged families being able to find an affordable place to live, 82 percent said yes, with 55 percent saying they are “strongly concerned.”
  • Asked if they’re concerned about whether the homeless find a place to live, 78 percent said yes. Another 75 percent said they worried about friends and family finding a place to live.
  • 74 percent of those surveyed say that the Bay Area must plan housing regionally instead of a city-by-city basis, adding that six different counties—San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, and San Mateo—agreed with this proposal by a margin of 70 percent or more.
  • And 72 percent of those polled say that building more housing near transit will relieve traffic and congestion.

Note that only half of those polled were asked about the sales tax measure, with the other half instead quizzed about a potential $10 billion housing bond. The bond idea got 63 percent approval.

Both questions posed whether voters would approve of the measure “to create and preserve local affordable housing for low-income households, veterans, seniors, teachers, first responders, persons with disabilities, and those experiencing homelessness, and help working families.”