SF Chamber of Commerce’s annual poll reveals homelessness and affordability top the list of voter concerns in annual survey
San Francisco – Homelessness and affordability rank as the top concerns among San Francisco voters, according to the 2017 Dignity Health CityBeat Poll which will be unveiled today at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s annual CityBeat Breakfast event attended by nearly 1,000 business and civic leaders. Click here to view photos from the event.
The CityBeat Breakfast spring-boards the Chamber’s 2017 advocacy agenda and explores the theme “A Changing Climate.” In addition to the presentation of the Dignity Health CityBeat Poll results, speakers include Mayor Ed Lee to discuss the changing political climate and State of the City, Geisha Williams, PG&E’s newly appointed CEO to discuss Federal and State challenges to the environmental climate, and Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President for People Operations at Google who will explore the business climate and how the educational system needs to adapt to build an effective workforce for the future.
“San Francisco is experiencing a time of unprecedented growth,” said Mario Alioto, Chair of the Board for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Executive Vice President of Business Operations at the San Francisco Giants. “Unemployment remains at a record low with thousands of new jobs in the city. But our prosperity brings us significant challenges: while certain sectors are soaring, income inequality is also growing, and we don’t have enough housing to meet the demands of our workforce. The Dignity Health CityBeat poll forces all of us to look into the mirror and listen to what citizens of our city are saying. They are the ultimate judge.”
Poll results show that anxieties about homelessness are growing – when asked what they feel are the major issues facing San Francisco today, 60 percent of respondents said homelessness and street behavior, up from 51 percent in 2016. And for the first time voters specifically cited sidewalk tent encampments, making the list with a 6 percent response rate.
Voters expressed strong support for solutions in the 2017 poll. Ninety percent of respondents said they support Navigation Centers to provide temporary shelter equipped with service providers to create a personalized plan to transition out of homelessness. Seventy-seven percent of people said they would support Navigation Centers in their own neighborhoods. Seventy-nine percent of voters said they support giving budget priority to the Office of Homeless Services to create enough shelter beds to meet the demand, and 54 percent support it even if it results in a freeze on other city departments.
“We are all part of the collective solution to help solve homelessness,” said Jim Lazarus, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “The overwhelming support for Navigation Centers in neighborhoods shows that voters recognize that homelessness is not an issue exclusive to downtown or South of Market. Homelessness impacts every corner of the City and all districts should be considered to combat this crisis.”
San Francisco’s cost of living is also a growing issue for many residents. As affordable housing requirements for developers are the focus of City Hall debate, 72 percent of respondents said they support adding extra floors – called upzoning – on buildings to build more middle income housing.
Fifty-one percent said the cost of rents and affordability was their top issue in the City, up from 44 percent in 2016. Sixty-six percent said the availability of housing is getting worse, and 74 percent said controlling the cost of living is getting worse.
“We need to meet the demand for more affordable workforce housing, and that density can be incorporated across the city and not just concentrated downtown,” said Lazarus. “The message for the Board of Supervisors is that voters in every supervisorial district support increased housing density in neighborhood commercial corridors and corner lots.”
Traffic congestion holds steady as a top concern, with 80 percent of respondents saying it is getting worse following 81 percent saying it was getting worse in 2016. It’s leapt up in recent years, as only 64 percent said it was getting worse in 2014.
Despite concerns, a sense of confidence in the City is much stronger when compared to last year’s poll results. Fifty-percent responded that San Francisco is going in the right direction, up from 34 percent in 2016. Seventy-six percent said the quality of life in their individual neighborhood is the same or getting better.
Residents are also generally content with many city services, feeling favorable about:
- San Francisco Rec and Park: 70%
- San Francisco Police Department: 60%
- MUNI: 56%
- SFUSD: 45%
Most overwhelmingly oppose holding a special election this year, which has been suggested to vote on new taxes, an affordable housing mandate, or other measures and would cost the city between $3 and $4 million.
The CityBeat Poll was conducted among 500 San Francisco voters in February 2017 by David Binder Research for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. More information on the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is available at www.sfchamber.com.
About the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce is the largest and most influential business membership organization in San Francisco. The Chamber serves more than 2,500 member businesses and over 200,000 employees from companies of every size and industry in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. Acting on our mission to attract, support, and grow business through advocacy, economic development, and business development in San Francisco, the Chamber delivers more than 250 programs and events each year and advocates for a prosperous economy and high quality of life for everyone who lives, works and visits the city. More information about the Chamber is available at SFChamber.com.