Most San Francisco Residents Satisfied With City Services

For the first time in more a decade, a majority of San Francisco residents are satisfied with the work of the city, a newly released survey shows.
Most San Francisco Residents Satisfied With City Services
Passengers board a Muni bus along Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., on April 25, 2006. Muni and public transportation are the most commented-on issues for San Francisco residents in a recent survey. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO—Residents of San Francisco generally don’t think highly of their local government. But this year, for the first time in more a decade, a majority of them have a favorable opinion of the city, a newly released survey shows.

Every other year, the city’s Controller’s Office ask residents how satisfied they are with public services and their own general wellbeing. 

Respondents were asked to give letter grades, between A (excellent) and F (failing), on various city departments, from Parks and Recreation to MTA, and areas of life from public safety to seniors.

As in previous years, the most commented-on issues for residents were Muni and public transportation in the city, followed by street conditions. Muni received its lowest ratings for cleanliness (“C”) and its highest rating for its fares (“B-”).

Government More in Favor


Overall, the city government is more in favor with its people, according to the 2013 City Survey Report.

This year, for the first time since 1997 when the first survey was conducted, a small majority of 52 percent thinks city government does at least a “good” job in providing services; 7 percent even think what it does is “excellent.” On average, citizens rated the city with a “B-” grade.

By comparison, nationwide, 63 percent have a favorable opinion of their local government, according to data from Pew Research Center.

Younger residents, those with lower income, and those who moved to the city more recently generally have a more favorable view. 

There are also regional differences regarding satisfaction. In District 6, South of Market, residents are generally the most satisfied, with 60 percent giving an “A” or “B” grade, while District 1 and 2 in the northwest are the least satisfied.

Some Fare Well, Some Struggle


Amid economic recovery, in terms of economic wellbeing, a citywide majority of 84 percent reports to be doing quite well.

However, for some districts and some groups, the situation looks quite different. 

In the southeastern parts of the city—Districts 9, 10, and 11—between 20 and 25 percent say they are unable to their meet their basic living expenses, such as housing, health care, transportation, child care, and taxes. 

By contrast, in District 2, which includes the Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods, residents fared the best.

Not surprisingly, a resident’s racial group, level of education, and income also made a difference for economic wellbeing.

27 percent of Hispanics, 38 percent of those with less than a high school education, and 37 percent of households with less than $25,000 total income say they are struggling in terms of basic needs.

Less Likely to Leave


Fewer San Franciscans are thinking about leaving.

While in 2011, 32 percent were thinking about it, now only 20 percent say they are very likely or somewhat likely to move out of the city within the next three years.

Those who are unable to meet their basic expenses, and parents of young children are more likely to leave the city, as well as residents with higher income, better education, and younger people.

Conducted since 1997, the San Francisco City Survey Report is designed to help city departments better gauge their priorities and track their performance. 

The City Services Auditor, a part of the Office of the Controller, oversaw the survey. FM3, a California research firm, carried it out in February by interviewing a random sample of 3,628 households across all city districts. Respondents could answer in three languages and via email, letter, or phone.