Poll: White, Affluent Oaklanders Happiest. Black Residents Least Happy. And Everyone's Freaked Out By Housing Crisis.


Oakland's annual budget poll is out, and will be discussed at next week's special city council meeting. The big take-away is that happiness very much depends on a person's race, class, and where they live.

According to the poll, white people with college educations and six-figure incomes who live in North Oakland and around Lake Merritt are "most happy" with the city's quality of life. They like to bike to work, and frequently take Uber.

But Black and East Oakland residents are more likely to be unhappy. They're feeling the pain of high housing costs, crime, poor schools, crumbling streets and sidewalks, and other longstanding problems.

  • Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates

This happiness gap, apparently stemming from race and class inequalities, is nothing new. In fact, it appears to be rooted in the city's history of racial segregation, redlining, deindustrialization, job discrimination, the drug war, and most recently the foreclosure crisis.

But regardless of who you are, housing is now the biggest worry for Oaklanders, with residents of West Oakland fearing rising rents and home prices the most. According to the poll's authors, "concerns about housing affordability and homelessness have spiked."

In 2015, the last time surveyors asked about housing, 10 percent of Oaklanders said it was their No. 1 concern, behind crime and education. In 2016, 29 percent of Oaklanders said housing is the biggest problem, with crime and education trailing at 13 percent each.

  • Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates

Nearly 73 percent of Oaklanders said they want the city to spend more on helping homeless people, and 67 percent say the city should invest more in affordable housing. Black Oaklanders were the most likely group to say the city should do more to help the homeless.

The poll also reveals that all Oaklanders are willing to pay higher taxes to support better services, almost across the board.

The only thing Oakland residents would cut is city spending to keep its sports teams. Only 13 percent of respondents said keeping sports teams should be a significant spending priority.

The survey was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates of Los Angeles. It involved 1,202 interviews with Oakland residents reached via land line and cell phones, conducted in English, Spanish, and Chinese.