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Politics & Policy

44% of San Francisco voters plan to leave the city, SF Standard poll finds

Pedestrians on Market Street walk past tents on November 18, 2011 in San Francisco. | Getty Images

Forty-four percent of San Francisco voters plan to eventually leave the city, citing homelessness, the high cost of living and rising crime as the top reasons for looking elsewhere, according to the inaugural San Francisco Standard Voter Poll.

Examining the data further, 16% of voters reported they were likely to leave in the next two years and 28% said they were unlikely to stay in the city long term. That was countered by the 41% of poll respondents who said they were committed to being in the city for the long haul.

The numbers broadly square with previous surveys of San Francisco residents which found that around half of respondents said they are likely to move away in the next few years.

The San Francisco Standard Voter Poll was conducted in partnership with Embold Research and surveyed 1,048 registered voters about their opinions on the city, its government and its challenges. More information on the research methodology can be found here. 

A full 45% of respondents reported they’re satisfied with their life in San Francisco, but a slightly larger number (48%) said they are dissatisfied. There was a gender divide seen in the data, with 50% of women saying they were satisfied with living in the city compared to only 40% of men.  

The poll found a majority of people between 18 to 34, as well as those over 65, said they were satisfied with living in San Francisco. However, a majority of respondents between the ages of 35 and 64 were dissatisfied with living in the city. Opinions on life within the city were also split among political lines. A majority of self-reported Democrats said they were satisfied with their life in San Francisco, while a majority of Republicans said the opposite. 

Among the top reasons voters said they liked living in San Francisco were the restaurant and nightlife options, the prevalence of parks and green space and the diversity of the city. On the other end of the spectrum, homelessness, crime and the cost of living made up the top three attributes that respondents said they liked least about living in San Francisco. 

Public safety is a major concern for San Franciscans, with 65% saying they feel either less safe or much less safe today than in 2019. Thirty percent of respondents said that they feel as safe as they did in 2019, while only 5% said they felt either more or much more safe than they did three years ago.

These numbers were relatively consistent across gender, age and educational attainment. However, there was a clear split among racial lines. More than three-quarters of Asian American and Pacific Islander voters (77%) said they felt less safe than 2019, with 44% reporting feeling much less safe. 

The policy idea that had the highest level of support among poll respondents was arresting those who commit minor property crimes like shoplifting and car break-ins. A total of 73% of San Francisco voters said they were in favor of the policy. 

When asked what gives them hope for the city’s future, voters pointed to the diversity of people and opinions present in San Francisco, as well as the city’s economic opportunities, as the top reasons. 

“It’s a constant ‘ying yang’ here. I love (San Francisco’s) beautiful, open-minded creative world, the youthful vitality, the ethnic enclaves, the history and the future. But I hate the homeless, political and cost of living issues,” one anonymous poll respondent said.