Bay Area residents sound off on decision to leave California

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A report this week by KTVU that examined why some longtime Bay Area residents are pulling up stakes and leaving California resulted in an outpouring of confessions about the wrenching decision to leave the Golden State.

The Baird family said they sold their Willow Glen home in San Jose and is moving to Bend, Oregon next month.

"I've lived here for 40 years (and) since I was born," said Jessica Roberton-Baird. "My family is still all very local (and) they would have never suspected I would be the one to leave."

Hundreds of people responded to the original story posted to KTVU.com, with many of them sharing their own personal stories about leaving the place they grew up or why they want to relocate out of the Bay Area.

Some of the reaction:

  • From Steven Phillips: "I'm 4th gen Californian. My 3rd g-grandfather came here in 1849 and brought his family to Santa Rosa in 1853. This is not the California I grew up in and in Mar 2018 I will sadly leave my history and my family behind. It's been a tough decision but I see no hope for my home state."
  • Barbara Britton wrote: "I am sad that my children, born, bred and educated here, cannot afford homes here."
  • From Rachal Wheatley Messinger: "We're leaving in July to Texas, buying our first house. We just can't do $2,200 rent anymore for an apartment in Sonoma County."
  • Jay Intagliata wrote: "I left California just last week for good. I lived in San Jose 45 yrs. Without "bashing" it or the people all I am reduced to saying is it has become unappealing. The juice is no longer worth the squeeze."

Local leaders responded to some of the complaints expressed about housing and traffic, acknowledging that city and state governments need to do more to limit the reverse migration out of California.

"We know the housing costs are killing people and it's choking folks and we (have) got to do more to get housing built," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

He said the San Jose City Council will vote next week on a plan that would approve the building of 700 units of high-density housing for downtown, saying the city needs to find and build more affordable housing options.

"We need to provide a path for folks to be able to get into home ownership. That's not always going to be a big house with a big yard and a white picket fence. We simply don't have the land for that anymore," Liccardo said.

One economist says the Bay's Area's housing affordability crisis is a chronic problem that has been decades in the making and has the potential to slow job growth.

"Already we're seeing job growth in the Bay Area has slowed down for where it was 1-2 years ago and one of the reasons for that is the climbing housing prices in the Bay Area," said Jed Kolko, the chief economist at Indeed.com.

Kolko added while income taxes are higher in California, the biggest catalyst for people to move out of the region is housing costs.

Gov. Jerry Brown's economic development office sent an email praising California's growing economy and efforts to improve traffic with the Governor's gas-tax.

Brook Taylor with California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development wrote: "We would encourage Bay Area residents to consider some of the other beautiful regions in the state before looking elsewhere. San Joaquin County and Riverside-San Bernardino have been two of the fastest growing regions in California thanks to lower housing prices and transplants from other parts of the state."

The governor's office also pointed to Brown's "by-right" proposal last-year that aimed to streamline housing projects and fast track building projects that met certain criteria.

The non-profit organization Bay Area Council says that proposal failed in the legislature and had a lot of opposition from trade unions and environmental groups.

Meanwhile, Mayor Liccardo says it will take years for housing to catch up with demand, saying that's the nature of boom and bust in Silicon Valley.

By KTVU reporter Maureen Naylor.

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