Skip to main content

Silver findings: 5 reasons for optimism about SF

Since the days of Rome’s burning, big cities have experienced their ups and downs—and The Standard’s new Voter Poll shows that San Franciscans are feeling pretty down about the state of their city.

But not everything in SF is a veritable dumpster fire.

If City Hall can just address residents’ concerns about homelessness, public safety, and businesses leaving town—no easy feat, to be sure—then this unique metropolis may be beloved once more. In other words, the poll’s results give five important reasons for optimism about the future of San Francisco. 

Yes, the young are happier with life in SF—but so are seniors! 

The poll found residents split down the middle about whether they’re satisfied with life in San Francisco—or not. While 45% of voters overall are content here, that figure rises to 53% for residents under 35—not surprising, considering how much fun singles can have in the city. What’s surprising is that 53% of voters 65 and older are satisfied with their lives in, with 23% saying they’re “very satisfied.” Overall, only 15% of all voters reported similarly high levels of fulfillment.

Breed is still in charge

While Mayor London Breed’s job approval rating was only middling, it was miles higher (49%) than that of the district attorney (30%) and the Board of Supervisors (34%). And she received higher marks from a variety of groups, including residents who plan to stay in the city long-term and tech workers (59% job approval from both groups, compared to just 49% from voters overall). If she can avoid all the blame in what looks likely to be a post-Boudin era, her popularity could help rally residents around solutions for the city’s post-Covid era. 

Mayor London Breed speaks on public housing at the press conference in Sunnydale on October 14, 2021. | Camille Cohen

Long-timers are all-in  

Like all big cities, SF has long had a transient population, with folks moving in and out every year for jobs, relationships, fun, fog, or whatever reason. The Poll found 44% of residents plan to move away, either in the short or longer term, a level that matches other research showing the figure hovering above and below the 50% line for the past decade. The good news? Voters planning to stay in the city long term have higher levels of satisfaction with city life (69%) compared to respondents overall (45%).

Pandemic positives 

While some areas teem with discontent over PPE and quarantines, San Franciscans tended to comply for the common good. Even now, only one-fifth of those surveyed say they’re not taking any precautions anymore. The need to work remotely pushed 76% of voters to cite a future preference for a hybrid model that will do much to alleviate traffic—a major source of pre-pandemic discontent with city life. And 37% believe the best thing for SF’s future will be for Covid to disappear in the rearview mirror.

The best of SF is timeless 

Why do residents love their city? Counting the ways, it is clear that the top reasons aren’t won’t disappear anytime soon. Its restaurants, nightlife, parks and green space, and diversity are ingrained into the fabric of San Francisco in a way that makes it perpetually attractive to both newcomers and long timers alike. Asked what makes voters hopeful for the city’s future, respondents’ No. 1 answer was the “diversity of people and opinions,” portending the potential for a very positive ever-after.

Empress by Boon on Grant Avenue in San Francisco's Chinatown. | Photo by Christina House / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images | Source: Photo by Christina House/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images