BAY AREA COUNCIL POLL CAPTURES RESIDENTS’ THOUGHTS ON Economy, DROUGHT, HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION
The Bay Area Council this week (June 23) released results of our region-wide 2015 Bay Area Council Poll, the only survey of its kind that provides a comprehensive and incisive look at the attitudes of Bay Area residents on the most topical and critical issues affecting the region. The poll examined attitudes on the economy, top issues, drought, housing and transportation.
Residents Say Soaring Economy May Be Reaching a Plateau
Bay Area residents think the region’s super-heated economy may be reaching a plateau according to the results, although they are generally bullish about the overall direction the region is heading. 46 percent of residents said the Bay Area is doing at least somewhat better than six months ago while 40 percent say things are about the same and 11 percent think things are worse. But looking ahead, confidence is somewhat weaker than the outlook only a year ago. Today, 39 percent think the Bay Area economy will be performing somewhat better in six months, a 12-point drop from 2014 when it was more than a majority.
Drought Tops Concerns; Residents Say They Are Already Conserving What They Can
California’s historic drought easily topped residents’ list of concerns, followed closely by housing costs and overall cost of living. Only in San Francisco did the drought take second to housing costs as the leading problem. The poll found 48 percent of residents rank the drought among the Bay Area’s most dominant issues, with 89 percent saying that preparing for drought is an important priority for the region.
But, Bay Area residents appear to be tapped out when it comes to restricting their water use, and heavily favor expanding the use of recycled water, turning seawater into drinking water and building new dams and reservoirs. While 38 percent say they could do a bit more to conserve, another 38 percent say they’re already doing everything they can to reduce water usage. Another 15 percent said they don’t make a special effort to conserve and 3 percent pay little attention to their water use.
In the drought’s fourth year, residents are heavily in favor expanding the use of recycled water, turning seawater into drinking water and building new dams and reservoirs. Even the notion of adding recycled water to drinking water supplies got more support than raising rates, with 58 percent of residents in support.
Housing Crisis Worsens and Attitudes Soften on Density, Regulations and Fees
Second to the drought only in San Francisco, as the Bay Area’s housing crisis worsens, poll results find that a growing number of residents support reducing fees and regulations on new development, streamlining environmental reviews and allowing higher population densities in their cities. Almost 67 percent said that trying to find a place to live in the Bay Area has gotten harder over the past year.
Residents also are not interested in building just any housing, the poll finds. A significant 76 percent say the focus should be on building workforce housing for low- and middle-income residents. When asked to show on a map where they think housing is needed most urgently, the overwhelming majority of residents from around the region point to a city where home prices and rents are soaring to stratospheric heights: San Francisco.
Residents say getting around the Bay Area is harder than a year ago, Strongly Support Investing in BART, Second Transbay Tube and Driverless Cars
Driverless cars have yet to hit the road beyond early experimental and testing projects, but that doesn’t mean Bay Area motorists aren’t eager to try them. That is among the findings in the poll, which gauged attitudes on a wide range of transportation-related issues including traffic congestion, support for a BART bond, a second transbay tube and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fees to improve roads.