2022 Bay Area Council Poll Registers Big Jump in Concerns about Crime and Safety

Nearly 2/3rds avoid big city downtowns because of concerns about crime

Concerns among Bay Area voters about crime and safety registered a big increase in the 2022 Bay Area Council Poll, continuing an upward trajectory that began in 2019. Crime and safety ranked third on the list of top concerns mentioned, behind homelessness and high housing costs, ahead of COVID, traffic and cost of living. Perceptions of the Bay Area as a safe place to live also plummeted from 63% in 2019 to 47% in this year’s poll, with 52% disagreeing the region is safe.

According to the Bay Area Council Poll, 65% of voters said they are avoiding going to big city downtowns because of crime. Concerns about crime and safety were also mentioned as a reason for leaving the Bay Area by one in five of the 48% of voters who said they are thinking about moving out of the Bay Area in the next few years, a dramatic shift from 2018 when crime barely registered as a reason to flee. And 36% of voters indicated that concerns about personal safety are keeping them from taking public transportation more frequently.

“Fears about crime are a serious deterrent to getting people back onto transit and back into our downtowns and business districts,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Bringing the hammer down on crime and ensuring public safety isn’t a debatable question, it’s a fundamental responsibility of local government and law enforcement. The deep concern reflected in these poll results should be a clarion call to our local leaders to do what’s necessary to make our cities, neighborhoods and transit systems safe for everyone.”

Read the Crime/Public Safety topline results>>

The Bay Area Council Poll found generally high levels of concern about a range of crimes. Concern was highest (91%) about car and home break-ins, but the poll also found 86% of voters concerned about violent crime, 83% concerned about public drug use and 79% concerned about panhandling and public nuisances.

Geographically, there were significant variations in whether voters feel the Bay Area is a safe place to live. The Bay Area Council Poll found that only 33% of those in Napa and Solano counties combined and 37% of Alameda County voters think the region is a safe place to live. Those in San Mateo County, on the other hand, appeared to be the most secure, with 60% saying the Bay Area is safe. In San Francisco, the poll found 49% of voters think the Bay Area is a safe place to live.

Concern about violent crime was highest in Alameda County at 93%. Those in Marin and Sonoma counties (combined, 72% agree), Napa and Solano counties (combined, 68% agree), and San Mateo County (69% agree) were the most likely to avoid visiting big city downtown areas over their concerns about crime.

This study was completed by EMC Research on behalf of the Bay Area Council among a random sample of registered voters who responded to an email or text invitation to complete the survey. Demographics including age, gender, and ethnicity are representative of registered voters in the 9-County Bay Area. The survey was conducted March 2-9, 2022, and had 1,000 respondents, which carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Previous polls were conducted in 2014, 2015, 2016 (residents of the Bay Area), 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 (registered voters).

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