SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A newly-released poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 38 percent of likely voters in California approve of the way President Trump is handling his job and only 36 percent approve of how the California Legislature is handling its job, with just 22 percent approving Congress’ performance.
Trump’s numbers have not jumped in the Golden State but the approval of the legislature has fallen ten points from 46 percent in January. The legislature’s seeming inaction on housing and homelessness may be to blame, says PPIC president and CEO Mark Baldassare.
“I think that there were very high expectations when our legislature became predominately Democratic,” said Baldassare, referring to the ratings in January when Gov. Newsom was sworn in and Democrats achieved a supermajority in the legislature.
“With our new governor Gavin Newsom, they were going to get things done. The fact that their ratings have dropped suggests to me that there’s disappointment in what they’re getting done right now.”
One thing voters might be looking for is help with housing.
Baldassare says the polls this year clearly indicate that this state is in a crisis. Fifty-two percent of Californians answered “yes” to this question: “Does the cost of your housing place a financial strain on you and your family today?” That number is up from 47 percent in 2017.
“The fact that, in every income group and every region of the state now, we’re finding that the concern is there,” Baldassare said. “This used to be something that we thought about for San Francisco or Los Angeles but now it’s urban it’s rural, it’s north it’s south, it’s coastal, it’s inland.”
“When I got to the state legislature five years ago, I asked, ‘What are we doing on housing?’ and I got blank stares,” recalled assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco).
“These places outside of L.A. and San Francisco had no plan to deal with housing because it wasn’t a problem in their districts. Now they all have this issue,” he added.
Chiu, the chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee, said he and his colleagues have been working hard to find solutions but it isn’t easy.
One problem is that people say they want housing but then oppose it in their neighborhoods.
“We’re getting conflicting messages from our constituents,” Chiu said, adding: “It’s our job as legislators to figure this out, to propose the big solutions.”
One proposal that appears stalled this year is SB 50, a proposal by state senator Scott Wiener to require local governments to change the zoning for new development from single-family housing to multi-family housing near mass transit and job centers. According to the new poll, 62 percent of Californians support such a proposal yet the legislature postponed the bill and it is not set to be considered until next year.
Such delays may be adding to public frustration.
“Maybe expectations were too high,” said Baldassare. “People expected things to change quickly. They didn’t. In the meantime, the sense of crisis grows.”