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Despite housing crisis, Bay Area voters are split on a big build-out of homes, poll shows

View of houses from Kite Hill in San Francisco on November 8, 2021. | Photo by Camille Cohen

Even as a severe housing shortage in the SF Bay Area fuels skyrocketing prices, more homelessness and the exodus of residents to more affordable regions, voters are not solidly behind proposals to rapidly build more homes, according to a new poll by the Bay Area News Group and Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

As California officials pressure San Francisco and other counties to quickly ramp up construction, only 52% of registered voters in five Bay Area counties said they backed the development of significant quantities of new housing, with 32% opposing it and 17% undecided, the survey shows. In San Francisco, the numbers break a little more favorably for a rapid build-out: 60% in support versus 26% against.

Most of the resistance comes from the same demographic groups that for decades have blocked new projects in cities and suburbs, earning the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) moniker: white homeowners over 50 years old. 39% of all homeowners opposed ambitious building efforts, the survey shows.

In keeping with the NIMBY label, voters were more supportive of subsidized housing for low-income families and the homeless if it wasn’t placed within a half-mile of their own homes.  

1,628 voters in SF, San Mateo, Alameda, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties participated in the poll.

In San Francisco, the politics of housing will be playing out at the ballot box in November.

A measure called Affordable Homes Now (Prop D), supported by Mayor London Breed and pro-housing YIMBY groups, has raised over $1.5 million in cash, The Standard reported Friday. It promises to speed construction of multiple types of new housing by limiting some of the city’s notorious review procedures. A competing measure, Prop E, aims to smooth the path only for certain types of affordable housing.