More people in the Bay Area are concerned about housing issues rather than water scarcity, according to polling results released by The Bay Area Council.
"Water isn't the only thing that's in short supply in the Bay Area," president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, Jim Wunderman, said to the press on Thursday.
"Our region is growing, our economy is humming but the housing shortage could be our Achilles heel. We need a bold regional response to our historic housing crisis that is on par with the aggressive and immediate action we're taking to combat the drought."
The survey found that 67 percent of residents believed finding a place to live is harder than it was last year. Of those interviewed, half supported more housing even if their city became more densely populated.
"That's a new phenomenon for us. People are saying things they've never said before about welcoming new development in their neighborhoods," Matt Regan, Bay Area Council senior vice president of public policy, said to KQED.
However, this does not necessarily reflect a major decline in the anti-growth mentality that is historically strong in the Bay Area. Rather, questions regarding housing are starting to have a polarizing effect on the area. For instance, San Francisco residents are more likely to accept new housing in their neighborhood than those living in San Mateo County and North Bay Counties.
Still, the study shows that there is an increase in the number of residents embracing some form of residential growth. Particularly, affordable housing is one concern that remains on the minds of such individuals. For example, an overall 76 percent of residents said that growth should focus on more low- and middle-income housing. When asked which part of the Bay Area needed this type of housing, the vast majority of interviewees pointed to San Francisco.
"The economy in the Bay Area could be hurt by the lack of affordable housing. It will be harder for employers in the Bay Area to recruit people. We are already seeing some evidence of that," Tracey Grose, vice president of the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute, told the San Jose Mercury.
The recent poll was conducted by EMC Research, an Oakland-based firm specializing in surveys. More than 1,000 residents were interviewed online. Questions covered a broad spectrum of California issues including housing and transportation, economic growth, drought, education, and labor.
Based on survey results, the Bay Area Council is planning to release Regional Economic Strategy guidelines meant to facilitate speedy housing development. This input is part of the Plan Bay Area initiative conducted by the Bay Area's regional housing and transportation planning agencies. The Bay Area Council says that it will unveil the Regional Economic Strategy plan in the next few weeks.