Bay Area: Transportation is No. 1 issue 

Whether stopped still on a highway or waiting endlessly for a train or bus, Bay Area commuters are keenly aware of transportation problems, a new Bay Area Council poll finds.

The 600-person survey released Wednesday shows that 33 percent of Bay Area residents feel that transportation — including traffic and public transit — is the "most important problem" facing the Bay Area today.

By comparison, area residents ranked housing problems — cost and availability — second behind transportation, with just 11 percent calling it the most important issue. Residents in the East Bay and The City pushed crime to the third-place slot, with 10 percent saying it was the biggest issue facing the area.

The survey results came on the sameday that the California Transportation Commission announced the Bay Area would receive $1.29 billion in funding from public infrastructure bonds passed last November for regional highway projects, approximately 72 percent of the funds doled out to Northern California.

Jim Wunderman, the CEO and president of the Bay Area Council, a business-oriented public policy advocacy group, said the funding was a positive step to correct an "unsustainable traffic situation" in the area.

"We’re trying to make this region globally competitive in the long term," Wunderman said. "The knowledge-based economy is incumbent upon bringing in and retaining the best minds, and some of those minds are too bright to sit in traffic three hours a day."

San Francisco and San Mateo counties both rated transportation the most important problem, but differed on other issues. San Franciscans put the economy and inflation in second place, with 17 percent calling them the biggest problem. Homelessness garnered 14 percent of the vote, 10 percent higher than in any other county.

Despite The City’s struggles with crime, residents said it was the fifth most important issue, behind housing in fourth place.

Citizens in San Mateo County put housing in second place, with 13 percent calling it the biggest problem, and health care in third, with 8 percent.

Mary Stagnaro, a retired 75-year-old who took part in the poll, lives in Belmont but was born and raised in The City, having also lived in San Mateo, Burlingame and Daly City.

The lack of available and affordable housing is driving out the middle class and should be local officials’ highest priority, she said. She has no family or friends in The City anymore, because they have been driven away by high prices.

"It’s beautiful in the Bay Area," she said, lamenting the high prices that drove her son to live in Utah. "You think, ‘You know, I don’t really need this.’"

dsmith@examiner.com

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