Why One-Third of This City’s Residents Want to Flee

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Traffic, cost of living and housing issues plague many large cities, but they've gotten so bad in one of America's most beloved cities that residents want out.

Traffic, cost of living and housing issues plague many large cities. But they’ve gotten so bad in one city that one-third of residents want out, a new survey shows.

Thirty-four percent San Francisco Bay Area residents say they are likely to move out of the area in the next few years, according to a survey released this week by the Bay Area Council, a nonprofit that describes itself as a business-sponsored, public policy advocacy organization.

The council’s president and chief executive, Jim Wunderman, calls the survey results a canary in the coal mine:

“Losing even a fraction of that number [of residents] and the talent they represent because we failed to deal with our most pressing issues would be very bad. … We need to pull every lever we can to remove regional and local obstacles to creating housing, helping working families afford to live here, eliminating the scourge of traffic and sustaining a healthy economy.”

The types of residents who were most likely to say they’d leave the Bay Area were those who:

  • Have been there the shortest time.
  • Make lower incomes.
  • Pay a larger share of income for housing.

More than 1,000 residents were polled for the survey.

In addition to whether they were likely to move, residents were asked to cite the Bay Area’s most important problems in an open-ended question. They also were given a list of issues from which to select the region’s most serious problems.

In both cases, traffic, cost of living and housing issues were the most commonly cited problems.

When results were broken down by the nine counties that comprise the Bay Area, residents of San Francisco County were the most pessimistic.

Fifty-two percent of them said they “feel things [things in the Bay Area] have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track” rather than feeling things “are going in the right direction.” That’s up from 28 percent last year.

Perhaps not surprisingly, just over the past year, San Francisco has been named among the 10 cities with the highest rent hikes in the nation and cited as having the priciest hotel rates in the world.

What’s your take on this news? How do you think your city compares to San Francisco? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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