The Bay Area Enigma: 83% of Bay Area Voters Say Cost of Housing is an Extremely Serious Problem but Agreement Ends When It Comes to Accelerated Development

San Jose, CA –  According to a recent survey, voters in five Bay Area counties are all on the same page with 83 percent saying the cost of housing is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem. Yet attitudes diverge when asked about the rate of development in their communities.

Only 18 percent think the rate of development is too slow, while 74 percent say the rate of growth is about right or too fast. Even though the Bay Area is in the throes of a housing crisis and has seen the number of people leaving the area on the rise; voters over age 40 tend to be divided on whether the rate of growth is about right or too fast, while those under 40 generally say the pace is about right.

“We’re in a crisis,” said Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. He compared the housing shortage and resistance to new development to an airplane slowly descending, with few passengers recognizing how perilous the journey has become. “Our job is to keep the plane from crashing.”

Figure 1: Perception of Rate of Growth by Party, Income and Age

“Do you think the rate of growth and development in your city or town is too fast, about right, or too slow?”

Position All voters Party Household Income Age Ideology
Dem. Ind. Rep. <$60K $60K-$120K $120K+ 18-39 40-59 60+ Very Lib. All Lib. Mod. Cons.
Too Fast 33% 32% 29% 45% 46% 32% 28% 26% 32% 41% 28% 28% 33% 45%
About Right 41% 39% 43% 41% 37% 42% 41% 41% 39% 43% 39% 40% 44% 43%
Too Slow 18% 20% 19% 10% 8% 17% 23% 24% 20% 9% 22% 22% 17% 8%

When you examine the data by county, Alameda and Contra Costa county voters are especially likely to say that the rate of growth is about right with 45 percent saying so in Alameda County and 48 percent in Contra Costa. However, 38 percent of folks in San Francisco and 37 percent in Santa Clara deem the rate of growth too fast for their liking.

Figure 2: Perception of Rate of Growth by County

Position All voters County
Alameda Contra Costa SF San Mateo Santa Clara
Too Fast 33% 31% 25% 38% 34% 37%
About Right 41% 45% 48% 29% 40% 39%
Too Slow 18% 18% 19% 22% 18% 14%

The five-county poll also revealed that about two thirds of respondents said the region’s quality of life has declined in the past five years. Their top concerns include the high cost of housing, living, traffic and homelessness. Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates conducted the survey of 1,568 registered voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Bay Area News Group. The poll, conducted Feb. 14-24, has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

About Silicon Valley Leadership Group

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, founded in 1978 by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, represents 330 of Silicon Valley’s most respected employers on issues, programs and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in Silicon Valley including energy, transportation, education, housing, health care, tax policies, economic vitality and the environment. The Leadership Group members collectively provide nearly one of every three private sector jobs in Silicon Valley and generate more than $3 trillion in annual revenue.

Kimberly Ellis, SVP MarComm |(408) 501-7853
Pam Kelly, Sr. MarComm Mgr. |(408) 501-7879