Bay Area residents worry about high housing prices

The Associated Press
Monday November 27, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO – High housing costs pose a “major problem” for four of five residents in the San Francisco Bay area’s red-hot property market. 

The percentage of people who say outrageous rents and asking prices would force them to move from the region has nearly doubled in three years. 

Only one of 10 residents say they are “very satisfied” with the availability of housing in the region. 

In a confirmation of what area residents have been bemoaning for several years, a San Francisco Chronicle survey of 1,000 adults across the region found one overriding theme: the San Francisco Bay Area is an expensive place to call home. 

Costs have gotten so high that residents reported housing was more troublesome than even the region’s seemingly nonstop gridlock. 

Residents blamed the blazing economy and the dotcom millionaires it has produced. 

“Silicon Valley salaries are so out of whack with what other professionals are making in the Bay Area that it takes so much more money to live decently,” said Sonia Sotinsky, an architect who moved from Berkeley to Tucson, Ariz., last year. 

The flip side, of course, is that more than 80 percent of people who have already own property believe the value of their house has appreciated greatly in the recent past. 

The newspaper concluded that over time, middle class, skilled workers like plumbers and electricians would leave the area in increasing numbers. 

In a similar 1997 survey, the Chronicle reported that 18 percent of people said they would have to leave the region because of housing costs. That figure climbed to 31 percent this year. 

In September, the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranked San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties as the least affordable place to live in the U.S.  

The advocacy group calculated that a worker must earn more than $28 per hour to rent the standard apartment and maintain a decent quality of life. 

The numbers show a dramatic shift since the paper last conducted its poll. Back then, nearly 70 percent of respondents said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the availability of housing in the area. That total fell to a shade over 30 percent this time. 

Respondents in San Francisco and the high-technology corridor stretching south to San Jose said they felt the pinch most.