San Francisco has always been a bit of a transient city, a place where people come to work for a few years and maybe find good times or romance, and then leave for someplace cheaper and more boring when it comes time to "settle down."
Well, somewhere around 40 or 50 percent of people living here — people living here who respond to polls, that is — say they plan to leave in the next few years. And many of these people have told pollsters that the city's biggest problems these days are crime, homelessness, and "street behavior."
The SF Chamber of Commerce released results Thursday from their annual CityBeat Poll, which asks San Francisco voters a range of questions about the state of the city and their perceptions of it.
This year's poll, like last year's, found 70% city residents saying that quality of life in the city has declined. 80% of residents polled said that addressing homelessness needs to be a high priority for the city, and 88% said that the problem had gotten worse in the past few years.
71% also said that "street behavior" has gotten worse. And 80% of San Franciscans support expanding conservatorship laws and making it easier to forcibly commit the mentally ill for treatment.
Also, 76% of San Franciscans said that it should be a high priority for the city to increase the number of police officers in high-crime neighborhoods, and 60% supported prioritizing funding for police academy classes and recruiting new officers.
"San Francisco has suffered over the past year, which highlighted and exacerbated issues like homelessness, street conditions and safety concerns,” said chamber President and CEO Rodney Fong in a statement. "Public infrastructure and the ability to manage street conditions were also pushed to their limits, and unsurprisingly residents feel strongly about it."
The Chamber of Commerce unveiled a data dashboard earlier this year that charts out 311 complaint data in the city, and overall the data finds complaints trending downward about theft and homeless tent encampments since 2019.
This is just the latest poll by a local organization that has registered the growing public perception of crime worsening, and finding that many San Franciscans dream of escaping it all. As the SF Business Times reports, a recent survey by the Bay Area Council found that nearly half of respondents plan to flee California entirely in the coming years.
Dignity Health was the presenting sponsor of the chamber's poll, and a rep for Dignity, Mark Klein, spun the poll data about people wanting to leave for the Business Times this way: "They are voicing their intentions about moving. We still have the ability to make changes that will keep them here."
Photo: Karam Alani