California dream isn’t so golden any more

June 30, 2011

The last decade between 2000 and 2010 proved to be the biggest population slump of any period since the beginning of California’s statehood in 1850, according to the most recent census data. [CNN U.S.]

The Golden State, the most populous in the U.S. with its 37.3 million people, isn’t so golden any more. Suburban sprawl, congestion, high taxes and expensive homes have sent people scurrying to other states in search of more affordable living.

In the last 10 years, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, 1.5 million more people left California for other states than came here to settle from other parts of the U.S.

New births and international immigration make up the difference but even immigration has slowed from its sky-high rates in the 1990s, according to demographers.

The state actually grew its population by 10 percent in the 2000s, which puts it on a par with the national rate of growth. San Luis Obispo County, with a population of 269,637, showed an increase of 9.3 percent, according to U.S. census data. In 2000, SLO County population was 246,681.

California’s entire state history is one of a series of population explosions beginning with the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, continuing with Hollywood’s emergence in the 1920s and most recently with the aerospace boom after World War II.

Before the 1990s, the state never saw a growth rate below 20 percent.

The state, as it gets more crowded and expensive, is losing its golden appeal. Not so long ago, Orange County with its orchards and open farmland drew millions in search of the suburban dream. Now, nearly all the farmland has been developed and the sprawling orchards are long gone.

The slowdown may be a simple matter of the state approaching its carrying capacity, the point where land and water resources can’t support any more people.

“Biology controls a lot of things,” said David Carle, author of several books about the state’s natural resources. “There are resource limits and natural limits. We’ve fought against that in California for a long time. We’ve pushed for 150 years or so to make this place boom in terms of population, and it seems like we’re coming up against an extreme.”

Nonetheless, PPIC projects that by 2020 California’s population will reach 42 million to 48 million people. In 1900, it was home to less than 2 million.


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20 Comments

  1. whatisup says:

    Middle class jobs are leaving in droves. Unfortunately, CA has become regulated and taxed at a level that is no longer competitive with other states. So if a company is looking to expand it rarely even gives CA a second look. In addition, many businesses are quietly relocating from CA to other states. Even high tech, which is arguably CA’s strongest job position, is moving massive numbers of jobs to other states. I am not addressing companies moving out of the U.S., which is a whole other can of worms. I am simply pointing out that in today’s “connected world” a CA location is not important, like it used to be, and companies are simply saying adios CA, it has been nice, but you are too expensive to do business in anymore.

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  2. danika says:

    Heck, I wanna be in Idaho; retired and fishing for my supper!

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  3. rogerfreberg says:

    “Development” isn’t bad folks and “sustainability” as a concept is unmanageable.

    Let’s just say that California hasn’t exactly put out the welcome mat out for anyone. Ol Jerry Brown told Amazon.com to start taxing stuff with California’s hernia taxes… and Amazon terminated all of it’s California Affiliates… including me. So, instead of getting some benefit, Jerry chose to roll the dice with another business… and got nothing. If they do this enough times, they say, they’ll make it up with volume?

    Anyway, I would be surprised if anyone actually builds the 1000 homes … why take the risk. Cal Poly has just scene the new budget and by my figures — which are usually right — there will be 2000 less students… and that is just for next year… and each year after will drop. If I were a betting person, I would say it will finish at around 10,0000… unless things change. A drop like this will have a bigger impact to the county then anything else.

    As i have said before… California is the Titanic and there is a lot of ‘iceberg denial’ out there!

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
    • rogerfreberg says:

      10,000 students that is

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    • justme says:

      I meant developement as it’s results effect our environment, not our economy, Isn’t there usually a diminishing postive effect on the environment as developement becomes denser?
      California’s future is going to be more immigrants working in manufacturing and farming. We’ll need Poly grads to train in the Eng. and Ag., but by the 1000’s? Training by doing methods will be realized as much more economical for everyone involved but the schools in the tight future. Who can afford college already? We have to import rich students now. Kids have been borrowing their butts off to get degreed up. It’s less of a viable investment now.
      When you think about the future demise of Calif. being grim then you must be white and degreed up, Kinda like you, Roger.

      /

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  4. Bob says:

    Although I make more money, I’ll never experience the prosperity and financial security that my Father and Grandfathers experienced as average middle class Californian’s.

    (18) 18 Total Votes - 18 up - 0 down
    • srichison says:

      You make more money, but see less for it. More of it taken by Sacramento and fewer services are returned in exchange. Until Sacramento understands that there needs to be an economic benefit for living here, more will leave. Sadly, those who leave are more and more the ones with the financial means to help. Confiscatory tax policies in return for diminishing services will drive California further into mediocrity (and worse).

      (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
    • justme says:

      …and if you’re say 50 or so your Dad provided more than you and a wife do together today.Thank you Federal Reserve, keep printing more money (dilluting the value of mine) to cover the interest you charge. And Ron Paul’s only polling @ about 6 maybe 7 %? It’s not just Ca. that’s heading into slavery to banks & Wall st. Like Butch & Sundance said, “Who are those guys?”. Three come to mind, Greenspan, Blankfein, and Rahm Emanuel.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
      • willie says:

        With the following equation:
        Cuts, More Tax, Inflation, no one can stay out of or get out of debt,
        less spending occurs, economy will will suffer strokes.

        I have it heard it is a crime to be poor, jail is eminent,
        but to be in continuous, deep and long debt is worst, there is no rest from worry to make ends meet.

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  5. my2cents says:

    We really need to cherish our rural land and farmland while its still here. I have 5 horses and I only trail ride. But each year its getting harder and harder to find places to go ride. The central coast is a diamond and we need to stop letting all these city people move here and act like they own it. I am a fifth generation to this county and its really sad that the people that run it didnt even grow up here. Their trying to develop more and ranch less. Its just plain sad. People take California for granted.

    (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
    • racket says:

      I see the opposite regarding development.

      I am only the third generation here, but it seems like the anti-development-smart-growth-green-space push is coming in from the outside. It isn’t so much coming from our parents, who at one time owned *all* the land, and then sold it in dribbles and drabs to make way for the new envirothinkers.

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    • Typoqueen says:

      You are spot on. SLO BOS just passed a developement that will add 1000 homes to SLO. Pismo is trying to add hundreds of homes even though the population of Pismo has decreased,,,hows that for ‘smart growth’. The Price Canyon area (the area that Pismo is trying to ruin with over developement) is a beautiful hiking and riding area, I hate to see it go.

      Racket, maybe it’s because you’ve lived here for so long that you haven’t seen the damage caused by over building. When you build more homes than there are buyers for then you destroy that area and that’s whats going to happen here. Next time you’re in Price Canyon look up at the empty lots that have been sitting vacant for over 5 years because they can’t find buyers. Streets, street lights, hookups, beautiful land destroyed for what? And now they want to had hundreds more right next to those vacant lots.

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    • whatisup says:

      California law requires all localities in California to allow the building of their fair share of new housing. This includes San Luis Obispo County. This law was passed years ago to prevent a city or county from hoarding the open space by preventing new building.

      To put it in perspective, the U.S. Census Bureau is projecting another 14 – 15 million population growth in California by 2050. This will require over 6 million new homes (apartments, condos and houses). There is currently about 17,000,000 homes in California today. This population increase is equal to about 3 1/2 additional Los Angeles by 2050.

      Unfortunately, SLO County will have to increase the number of homes here by about 35%.

      (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
      • my2cents says:

        Have you read the census reports. California has decreased in population from 10 years ago. People are finding it way to expensive to live here, therfore moving to other states. Like Typoqueen said, there ARE new lots built years ago and have never been resided in. I think the developement should only happen if there are people to actually live in them.

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        • whatisup says:

          my2cents – This incorrect assumption that California’s population is shrinking keeps showing up in print so people of course believe it. This decreasing population is a statistic often pointed to by the right to prove how bad California is. While in many ways the right is correct (driving business out of CA), when it comes to the number of people living in CA, many are grossly misinformed.

          The 2000 California population was 33,871,648.
          The 2010 California population was 37,253,956.

          In fact, the California population rose 10% from 2000 to 2010.

          http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html

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          • zaphod says:

            thanks for the link!

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          • Politik says:

            Whatisup, the article states that the population in CA increased by 10% during the ten years. It also mentions that the increase was from in-state births and International inflow. Other articles from other publications have mentioned how many of the births were to US citizens and how many of the International citizens that came here did so legally.

            Some articles claim that the middle-class population is shrinking in CA and that probably is the net outflow to other states that is discussed in the article. I wonder if stronger enforcement against employers of people not legally able to work in this country might not help with the shrinking middle class and the large numbers of residents not here legally.

            Fewer residents here without benefit of legal status might also translate to less tax, since some older estimates state that the cost to California taxpayers is 10.5 billion a year to provide education, healthcare, and other services to the illegal residents in our golden state. Interesting, what saving that kind of money per year might do to the deficit.

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            • whatisup says:

              With the unemployment rate at the level it is in CA it is fair to argue that relatively few illegal immigrant workers or legal immigrant workers are needed now. I also believe there are jobs that most Americans won’t do, such as many farm worker positions, and this need for foreign workers should be addressed.

              However, middle class jobs are being outsourced from CA to other states at an alarming rate. The difficulty in addressing this job transfer out of California appears to be with the majority in the state legislature that insists the current regulation, tax structure, and over spending in CA does not drive businesses to move to other states, i.e., the majority won’t yet admit they went too far.

              At some point, your observation of the coming “tipping point” where the tax revenue keeps shrinking because the middle class jobs keep leaving will happen, probably has already started, but we won’t know until the economy is growing nationwide at a sustained rate and then be able to see clearly how CA is fairing compared to the rest of the states.

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              • thinkaboutit says:

                Whatisup: The facts hurt, but you speak truth. I appreciate that you know of what you speak before you speak it.

                Keep up the good work.

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  6. justme says:

    I thought it was termed “developement”? Develope into an irreversable diaster? And the scary part is after coastal SLO there’s no where left if you’re white and middle class that’s not full of Bozo’s, cold, fog or just plain boring as hell. How can we not realize the human endeavor is based on insanity? No? Then why when we experience hard times or a bad economy does the environment gain from it?
    Lemmings in cars.

    (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down

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