A new survey that the Chronicle conducted alongside a professional pollster in late June and early July found that San Franciscans are largely unhappy with how the city is being run, and they blame both the mayor and the Board of Supervisors about equally.
There's nothing too surprising about the poll numbers that came in Tuesday from this SFNext survey by the Chronicle in which "a random sample of 1,653 San Francisco residents age 18 and older was asked more than 90 questions about the state of the city." Who has time to answer 90 questions you ask? Well, they were offering $20 gift cards for people's trouble, and the survey was conducted both online and — probably for the very elderly — by telephone.
What the survey found was that 65% of residents surveyed think the conditions in the city are worse than they were when they moved here — with the percentage somewhat higher, 69%, among those who moved here before 2009. And that sentiment was pretty much the same across all income brackets and races, with homeowners about 8% more likely to hate everything than renters.
About two-thirds of city residents say they'll be sticking around in the city regardless, at least three years from now. But a little over a third, 37%, plan to move elsewhere within three years — but that may just reflect the always transient nature of this city, especially for the young and occupationally mobile.
And a majority of San Franciscans believe racism plays a key role in the city's inability to solve problems — with 62% saying racism figures into things at least a moderate amount, or a lot.
Racial divisions persist, the poll shows.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 13, 2022
When asked how much racism makes it difficult for San Francisco to solve its biggest problems, only 12% said “not at all.” More than 60% said either a “moderate” amount, “a great deal,” or “a lot.”
Read more: https://t.co/0J5BndLEyw pic.twitter.com/iZFbyeA0F9
For as long as I've lived here — 22 years — San Franciscans have tended to not be fond of the Board of Supervisors, overall. It's kind of like Congress — you might like your representatives, but you likely hate the governing body and its contentiousness and inertia, taken as a whole.
That remains true in this survey, with only 12% of respondents saying that the supervisors are doing a good or excellent job. 48% said the board is doing a "fair" job, while 40% said they are doing a poor or very poor job.
"Whatever you’re doing — it’s not working," said one survey respondent, 36-year-old Mission resident Joy Kruth, with regard to dealing with the city's most urgent problems. "I feel the way a lot of other people do, which is, I don’t know where the holdup is … but I’m gonna blame it on all of you, because it’s not working."
A bit more surprising is the clear slippage in Mayor London Breed's popularity since her last election. Among the 1,600 people surveyed, it sounds like Breed could have a tough time getting reelected if the election were tomorrow, but that would likely depend on her opponents.
Breed did better than the Board of Supervisors with 23% — almost double — giving her a good or excellent approval rating. But a clear majority, 77%, rate her job performance as fair, poor, or very poor — with over a third, 35%, at the "poor" end of that spectrum.
S.F. CHRONICLE | SFNEXT POLL— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 13, 2022
Less than a quarter of San Franciscans believe Mayor Breed has done an excellent or good job at improving the city, an evaluation that reflects residents’ anger with city dysfunction.https://t.co/c45z1Sk3bT
Breed offered a pretty stock response to the survey results, saying in a statement, "It’s no secret San Francisco faces a number of challenges including the cost of housing, homelessness, addiction and mental illness, and public safety. I know the community is frustrated — I share their frustrations, too."
The mayor continued, "It’s why I am intensely focused on our economic recovery, building more housing, bringing MUNI back online, and keeping streets safe and healthy for everyone. I care about doing the work every day to meet the challenges of the city while also celebrating our successes."
Breed does love that word "challenges"...
Breed's office was quick to point out that the number of homeless did in fact go down slightly between 2019 and 2022, likely thanks to the city's progress on creating transitional and supportive housing. But that is a slow-moving train, and one could argue that once you've created the housing for the extant population who want to stay here, you will have a new batch of people arriving who also need shelter. (Homeless census data in the last decade has tended to suggest that a majority of those on the street are not new arrivals, with 71% in the last census saying their address prior to homelessness was in SF.)
Right, so, people in SF are unhappy, and think things could be better, and as Jason McDaniel, a political scientist at San Francisco State University, tells the Chronicle, "If I was on the ballot right now, I would be worried."
McDaniel also tells the Chronicle that it's probably time for some unity among the city's top leaders, and some cooperation on big policy ideas. But, McDaniel adds, "getting them to work together, row together and agree on a common thing, a common direction for policy, has not been something that the city leadership has been great at since I’ve been here."
SFNext Poll [Chronicle]
Top Photo: Gordon Mak