What can bring people back to Bay Area? SJ mayor believes it's focusing on the 'basics'

Mayor Mahan says falling out of the top ten for the first time in more than a decade is a concerning wake-up call.

Dustin Dorsey Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
SJ mayor believes focusing on 'basics' will bring people back to city
Some major Bay Area cities are seeing residents leaving by the thousands and some believe the answer to bringing back is focusing on the "basics."

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The top 10 most populous cities in the United States have some familiar names, but no longer a local one. After more than a decade in the top 10, San Jose was surpassed by two cities in the South.

New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are still the top three. Houston is the largest of four Texas cities to make the top 10. San Diego comes in at number eight to represent California because no other Bay Area cities made the top list.

VIDEO: 8 Californians who left for Texas share thoughts 1 year later | Watch 'California Dreaming: Moving to Texas'

A shrinking California. Waves of companies relocating to Texas. The idea of a California exodus gained momentum over the years. But is it true? We dug into the data to separate fact from fiction. Watch "California Dreaming: Moving to Texas" now.

Oakland ranks 45, between Bakersfield and Long Beach in terms of population size. San Francisco comes in 17, smaller than Indianapolis. But, San Jose, once the 10th most populous city in America is now number 12. The population is below a million.

"Does it surprise you at all?" ABC7 News Reporter Dustin Dorsey asked San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan.

"No it doesn't," Mahan said. "We've seen polling for years now saying that residents are frustrated. They're frustrated with high cost of living and quality of life issues like homelessness, crime and blight."

Now, as a result, people are leaving San Jose by the thousands.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's City and Town population totals report, in July 2020, the city had an estimated population of 1,009,830 residents. This number was down to 981,466 residents in 2021. Now in 2022, San Jose has a population of 971,233 which now ranks 12 overall in the country - falling behind Austin, Texas and Jacksonville, Florida at 10 and 11 respectively.

VIDEO: These Bay Area metro areas saw thousands of households move away from 2018 to 2022, data shows

U.S. Postal Service data shows at least 250,000 San Francisco metro area households requested an address change from 2018 to 2022.

Mayor Mahan says falling out of the top ten for the first time in more than a decade is a concerning wake-up call.

"We've got amazing weather, we've got great companies here, we have an incredibly diverse workforce, so many assets," Mahan said. "But if we're going to continue to grow and have a strong economy and provide a high quality of life to our residents, we're going to have to get back to the basics."

Mahan believes that means adequately staffing the city's police department, continuing to work towards ending the housing crisis and ultimately making the city feel safe and clean.

But San Jose State Economics Professor Matt Holian says the city has seen a drop in home prices due to lack of demand. This is obviously good news for buyers, but bad news for sellers.

Holian says it also makes the mayor's goals more challenging to accomplish.

RELATED: Experts explain what's behind California's historic drop in population

"As house prices have fallen the property tax base goes down and cities are able to collect less tax revenue," Prof Holian said. "So, that's going to affect city budgets - everything from police, schools, basic street cleaning."

Oakland and San Francisco have joined San Jose in declining population in the past years, which Holian says only makes the problems on the streets more visible with less vibrancy around.

Mayor Mahan says he ran for office to buck this trend and is confident in the city's ability to grow if they get back to basics.

"San Jose is the Capital of Silicon Valley, we are the biggest city in the region and we need to lead this region out of the funk that we're in," Mahan said.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live