Affordable housing, traffic congestion, and pace of regional growth top respondents’ list of most pressing concerns
SACRAMENTO, CA: May 24, 2023 — Valley Vision, in partnership with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), released new research findings today from a public opinion survey that captured attitudes on the region’s built environment. The poll provides a snapshot of the public’s priorities and concerns with respect to the built environment, including transportation, housing, telework, and public health.
Respondents overwhelmingly say that they believe the region’s top priorities are increasing affordable housing and reducing traffic congestion. 49 percent of respondents cite their own neighborhood as unaffordable, and 79 percent of respondents think that first-time homeowners will have a more difficult time buying a home in five years. Renters are more likely to view the increasing cost of housing as their biggest concern (64 percent).
“Poll respondents are experiencing hardships associated with rising housing costs and have concerns about what that means for the future,” explained Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt. “The findings also revealed that 54% of respondents think we should slow down on housing development despite housing affordability being the biggest concern about growth in the region.”
Construction of attached housing – apartments, condominiums, townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, etc. – has seen a decreasing share of overall housing construction for at least the last two decades. 31 percent of the region’s existing homes are attached, but that share is shrinking as over 80 percent of homes built since 2001 have been single-family homes. The need for greater housing variety becomes more apparent when the respondent demographics are examined closely. 53 percent of renters say that more attached housing should be prioritized.
“We understand that our region is fast growing, we know traffic congestion is a major concern, and that we have to address the housing affordability crisis,” said SACOG’s CEO James Corless. “But the question is not if we grow, it’s how we shape that growth. These poll results allow us to make sure we’re listening to the needs and desires of residents while still thinking about how life will be different in 5, 10 and 25 years into the future.”
93 percent of respondents indicated that they use a personal vehicle most of the time for their commute, however people are commuting less with less predictable schedules compared to before the pandemic. When it comes to other modes of transportation, 53 percent of renters see public transit as a convenient and accessible alternative to cars and 43 percent of respondents noted that walking and bike paths have gotten better in the last five years. At the same time, traffic congestion remains a significant concern for most people.
“Traffic congestion concerns require solutions that encourage public transit, increased focus on walking and biking, and creating smart road systems that minimize congestion on freeways when possible,” Corless added.
Notably, respondents feel strongly about more open space for recreation. 64 percent of respondents
said that they would like to see more parks and trails brought to their communities. “We have considerable assets in our region,” said Schmidt. “Local parks, rivers, trails, and open space amenities are time and time again identified as the most important amenities that we have in the region and it’s critically important that we preserve these assets and to enhance their use and quality throughout the region.”
A strong majority of our youngest respondents (18-34 years old) are optimistic and supportive of California’s goal to transition to all-electric vehicle sales by 2035 (72 percent). According to respondents, affordability and lack of adequate charging infrastructure is what is likely to get in the way.
“Understanding local perspectives like these is critical to making informed decisions and can help regional leadership proactively address expressed public priorities, values, and needs,” said Corless. “SACOG is using these findings to inform the region’s long-range plan, the 2025 Blueprint.” The 2025 Blueprint is the only regional plan that guides investments in transportation and land-use for the region 25 years into the future. Projects included connecting people from where they live to where they work and live, developing mixed use housing choices, and protecting our region’s natural and working landscapes.
The Built Environment poll was fielded from October through December 2022 by the Institute of Social Research at Sac State. The poll is the latest in a series of studies that Valley Vision has conducted since 2017 to inform policymakers, help target investments, and support data-driven action throughout the region.
“We believe that continuing to develop our understanding of residents’ perspectives about their neighborhoods and lived experiences provides the basis needed to drive positive policy, investment, and regional change,” said Schmidt. “Valley Vision will continue to be an ongoing resource of this type of opinion research on matters important to our future.”
The Built Environment survey respondent group consisted of 1,744 residents from El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yuba, Sutter, and Yolo counties. The panel is weighted to demographically represent the region and each survey achieves a statistically valid margin of error of not more than +/- 3 percent. Learn more about the polling program by visiting https://www.valleyvision.org/projects/regional-attitudes-opinion-surveys/.
For 29 years, Valley Vision has brought people together from across a political and geographic spectrum to design solutions to big regional problems. Valley Vision is a trusted interpreter, commentator, forecaster and work partner for community inspired solutions and widely recognized as a leading research, civic planning and action agency that takes an independent and systemic approach to economic, social, and environmental issues.