According to a new poll by pro-business policy group the Bay Area Council, 34 percent of Bay Area residents are "likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years," or so they say. For the study, conducted online, Oakland-based EMC Research polled 1,000 residents of the region from February 12 through March 9. Citing a variety of gripes familiar to all — housing costs, related cost of living, and traffic issues chief among them — 13 percent said they "strongly agree" and 21 percent said they "somewhat agree" that they'll move.
“Residents’ discontent is palpable, and we can’t ignore it,” Bay Area Council president and CEO Jim Wunderman told the Business Times. “Traffic is horrific. Our housing shortage is pricing workers, families and others out of their homes and out of the region. Together, these problems threaten to erode our economic vitality and diminish our quality of life."
The Bay Area Council poll says that 40 percent of Bay Area residents consider the region to be on the wrong track — a figure that's actually lower than the 51 percent of San Franciscans who felt the city was headed in the wrong direction according to a Chamber of Commerce poll conducted during roughly the same timeframe. For further perspective, consider that previous regional polls from the Bay Area Council showed higher faith in the area's direction: Last year, 55 percent of respondents said we were on the right track, and in 2014, 57 percent of them were optimistic.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of poll respondents said they had no designs to leave the Bay Area. And while complaints were registered across incomes levels and generations, it was residents with household incomes of over $125,000 who felt most strongly that the area was headed in the right direction — though that was just 46 percent of them.
In a summary of the results, the Bay Area Council writes that, "Those who've lived in the region for five or fewer years were the most likely to say they would leave." Ironically, if simplistically, recent transplants bear much of the popular blame for an increasingly steep cost of living, which respondents identified as the top problem facing the area.
Just last month several sources were floating the idea that young tech workers might start fleeing the Bay Area, citing job searches for growing tech hubs in other regions. And seeming to address that population, Bay Area Council president and CEO Jim Wunderman wrote in a statement that "losing even a fraction of that number (2 million residents) and the talent they represent because we failed to deal with our most pressing issues would be very bad."