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Old Posted Mar 25, 2022, 8:45 PM
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Big population drops in Los Angeles, San Francisco transforming urban California

From the Los Angeles Times:

Big population drops in Los Angeles, San Francisco transforming urban California

BY HAYLEY SMITH, SARAH PARVINI
MARCH 25, 2022 5 AM PT

Los Angeles and San Francisco saw sizable declines in population during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, new census data show, underscoring how California’s housing crisis and other demographic forces are reshaping two of its largest cities.

In terms of total numbers, Los Angeles County lost about 160,000 residents — more than any other county in the nation, the data show. But L.A. County has about 10 million people, so the per capita loss was slightly more than 1% compared with 6.7% in San Francisco and 6.9% in New York.

“We are in this new demographic era for California of very slow or maybe even negative growth,” said Hans Johnson, a demographer with the Public Policy Institute of California. “And it does have implications for everything in our state — from how we live our lives to which schools are getting closed down to how much capacity we might need for transportation networks, and eventually to housing.”

The data, published Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, show California as a whole saw a net loss of nearly 262,000 residents between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, with the lion’s share of the losses coming from Los Angeles County: 159,621 people. The second-largest countywide loss in the nation was New York, which declined by about 111,000 residents.

The findings paint a picture of a state in flux, with factors such as soaring home prices, dwindling birth rates and more work-from-home options contributing to a population on the move.

“This loss that both California is experiencing and Los Angeles County is experiencing are kind of the perfect storm from a demographic perspective, and all the components that lead to population change are all trending in a downward direction for both the state and Los Angeles,” Johnson said.

Nearly all of the state’s population loss was driven by domestic migration, data show, meaning most people who are leaving are choosing to go — often seeking more affordable housing and job opportunities, or moving with family.

Jena Lords said she and her husband discussed leaving Bakersfield for several years because they were unhappy with the direction the state was going. They decamped to Idaho last year.

“The top reason was 2nd Amendment rights,” said Lords, 39. “There’s also the high cost of living, tax fees, regulations.”

Lords and her husband both had stints in the firearms industry, she said. To them, it felt as though “the governor didn’t want us to be able to defend ourselves.”

The pandemic provided a rare opportunity for the pair to move — Lords had been working remotely as a department coordinator at Cal State Bakersfield and her husband quit his job in November 2020. Last spring, she accepted a position as an administrative assistant at Idaho State University.

She and her husband lived in their recreational vehicle for 10 months before closing escrow on a $140,000 home sitting on half an acre of land in Pocatello, about an hour south of Idaho Falls, two months ago.

“The hardest thing was leaving our friends and family — and the beach, of course,” Lords said. “It’s amazing, the difference in culture. It’s a real small-town feel.”

California overall lost about 367,000 people like the Lords to domestic migration — a number higher than the net loss, which includes gains from births and other sources. Los Angeles lost about 180,000 to domestic migration

The census numbers underscore population losses the state has faced in recent years. The state lost a seat in Congress for the first time in history due to sluggish population growth.

The Bay Area, where skyrocketing housing costs have long been a major problem, was hit particularly hard. San Francisco lost about 54,000 residents and Santa Clara County — home to Silicon Valley — 45,000 people.

But more affordable parts of Southern California, such as Riverside and San Bernardino counties, saw growth during this period, including people coming from other areas. Riverside saw the third-highest population gain in the nation with about 36,000 new residents, following only Maricopa County, Ariz., and Collin County, Texas, according to the data.

California was also among the minority to see a “natural increase” in the population, or more births than deaths during that one-year period, the data show. More than 73% of U.S. counties experienced natural decrease in 2021.

Yet natural increase is also slowing both nationally and within California. The state reported 91,996 more births than deaths from July 2020 to 2021, according to the census data, but that number was about 262,000 in 2015.

And while the state saw a net gain in international migration — about 14,300 people moved to California from abroad — the number is also significantly lower than what it was in recent years. About ten years ago, Los Angeles County received close to 50,000 people through international immigration. This year, the county reported only about 4,000.

“All those factors are operating together now in ways that we’ve never seen before,” said Johnson, the demographer. “We’ve had periods with large domestic out-migration, but not at the same time that we saw this big decline in foreign immigration and a slowdown in natural increase. So when you add all those things together, that adds up to population losses both for the state and for Los Angeles that are very, very unusual demographically.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic probably played a role in less immigration, the number of international migrants has been steadily declining for several years, said Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA.

“It’s a combination of those things, but certainly it was happening before the pandemic,” Ong said. “In some ways, it’s part of what we see historically in terms of immigrants — that they do settle and cluster in a few areas and cities, but over time they move away. And when they move away, they sponsor new relatives coming in further away from the original core.”

A shrinking population can have a negative effect on the local economy and can mean fewer skilled workers, Ong said.

For some, the decision to leave California grew out of mounting frustration and a desire for change.

“I started seeing the homeless population increasing and nothing being done about it,” said former Southern California resident Alfredo Malatesta, who immigrated to L.A. from Peru as a child. “It was starting to remind me of where I left many years before.”

He and his wife, Erin, moved from Santa Clarita to Tennessee in 2017, and have taken a shine to rural life outside Nashville.

“You feel like everyone is out to screw you in a way in a city like Los Angeles. And for the amount I pay to live here, the taxes, the infrastructure falling apart... everything is just like constantly like you’re getting screwed,” Malatesta, 43, said.

After sitting down and mapping out the future, the couple decided they wanted some distance from the “fatigue” they felt in L.A. — and a new adventure with a simpler life.

“I kept telling myself that my wife and I can’t live here happily, and the system is counterproductive and not efficient. It’s harder and harder to run a business when these stresses are pressing down on you,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like Los Angeles has an identity anymore.”

Link: https://www.latimes.com/california/s...ia-census-data
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  #2  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2022, 9:32 PM
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I hate these articles.. That was a one year blip due to zero immigration. Im sure LA, NY and SF are back to normal numbers wise right now
     
     
  #3  
Old Posted Mar 25, 2022, 9:39 PM
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I don't doubt that people left New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco between July 2020 and July 2021. That was peak pandemic, and a lot of people were on the move. All three cities were shut down, and lots of people who could not work remotely--people working in entire economic sectors, such as hospitality--couldn't pay the rent. And New York at that time was especially hard hit in terms of overwhelmed hospitals and morgues.

I myself left San Francisco with my husband just four months prior to the beginning of the period in question. These numbers don't surprise me.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 26, 2022, 9:02 PM
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Originally Posted by craigs View Post
I don't doubt that people left New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco between July 2020 and July 2021. That was peak pandemic, and a lot of people were on the move. All three cities were shut down, and lots of people who could not work remotely--people working in entire economic sectors, such as hospitality--couldn't pay the rent. And New York at that time was especially hard hit in terms of overwhelmed hospitals and morgues.

I myself left San Francisco with my husband just four months prior to the beginning of the period in question. These numbers don't surprise me.
Miami area lost the most, per capita. 140k. And that was a place that was supposed to be doing well with the pandemic. It's def a immigration thing.
     
     
  #5  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2022, 2:11 AM
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Two reasons I see for this:
1) Quality of life. Strung out fentanyl addicts forming tent encampments in playgrounds don’t make for approachable and livable cities.
2) cost of living. On the west coast, it’s become too expensive too fast. Additionally, land entitlement is too costly and takes too long for meaningful increases in housing supply. More is made in entitlements, arbitrage, and impact fees than in actually building affordable market rate housing.
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Old Posted Mar 28, 2022, 3:28 AM
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I can only imagine that for high cost cities, the answer would have to be reduced household sizes and fewer children and roommates, right? It wouldn't make any sense for home prices and rent to be sky high if there was no demand, right? And there would no across-the-board housing shortage if cities were getting less dense in terms of households.

There's probably a point where these types of declines in otherwise healthy cities will slow or stop. Once most of the old building stock turns over.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 28, 2022, 12:50 PM
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immigration and increased deaths for the year with COVID. 2022 data will be key to see if the trend holds or not, I suspect it will not at all.
     
     
  #8  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2022, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
I can only imagine that for high cost cities, the answer would have to be reduced household sizes and fewer children and roommates, right? It wouldn't make any sense for home prices and rent to be sky high if there was no demand, right? And there would no across-the-board housing shortage if cities were getting less dense in terms of households.

There's probably a point where these types of declines in otherwise healthy cities will slow or stop. Once most of the old building stock turns over.
A lot of the increase in housing prices and increased housing demand is from increased monetary supply, and increased forced savings from not commuting and staying home. Savings rates skyrocketed during the pandemic which caused people to suddenly all at once have downpayments for their first house. And predictably, when 4-5 times as many people than normal all go out to buy their first home at the same time.. well..

Same thing with household creation - households suddenly had a lot more money from saving and government programs.. many probably decided that they could afford to live on their own and just like that, many new households were formed, needing more housing units.

COVID is a massive shock to the entire economic system, and we can see ripples of this through almost everything from car shortages, inflation, housing shortages, etc. Consumer demand and spending patterns shifted massively, essentially overnight. The market has to play catchup.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 28, 2022, 1:38 PM
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But cities have been getting expensive for the last 15 years.
     
     
  #10  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2022, 7:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LosAngelesSportsFan View Post
I hate these articles.. That was a one year blip due to zero immigration. Im sure LA, NY and SF are back to normal numbers wise right now
Not yet but the situation is probably turning around. People are willing to pay the high costs of living in the city because city living is fun and the job is close. With hybrid work, the job may not count for as much but during the 2 years of the covid pandemic, much of the fun stuff in the city was shut down. Why pay $3000/month for a small apartment if the bars/clubs/symphony/opera/sports/good restaurants are closed and you can work from Fresno or Houston?

But just about all those bars/clubs/symphony/opera/sports/good restaurants are back and pretty soon your boss may want to see you at least once or twice a week (probably more if you want him to depend on you and consider you promotion material). Time to move back to town and good news! The $3000 small apartment may only be $2800.
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  #11  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2022, 3:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverberation View Post
Two reasons I see for this:
1) Quality of life. Strung out fentanyl addicts forming tent encampments in playgrounds don’t make for approachable and livable cities.
2) cost of living. On the west coast, it’s become too expensive too fast. Additionally, land entitlement is too costly and takes too long for meaningful increases in housing supply. More is made in entitlements, arbitrage, and impact fees than in actually building affordable market rate housing.
Actually it was pretty much just the pandemic. I left SF for Tahoe for 1 1/2 years because every thing was closed and like most who work downtown I had other options to ride out the pandemic Back in the City now.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2022, 3:34 PM
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Actually it was pretty much just the pandemic. I left SF for Tahoe for 1 1/2 years because every thing was closed and like most who work downtown I had other options to ride out the pandemic Back in the City now.
Would you go to Tahoe again? My parents are seriously considering moving out of Reno due to all the smoke in the summer.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2022, 3:51 PM
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People left big cities at a point during the pandemic, but a large number of those people came back. Additionally, there was a pause on immigration, which someone already pointed out.

So, if you grabbed those numbers during that time period, and most of those people came back, it all just comes off as pointless. People left. People came back.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2022, 12:50 AM
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Would you go to Tahoe again? My parents are seriously considering moving out of Reno due to all the smoke in the summer.
Yes, I have a home there. The fires and smoke have been bad the last couple years with about 30 days of heavy smoke, but that also happened in SF. It all depends on which way the wind carries the smoke. I was in NY in July and they had bad smoke from the fires in CA and Oregon while I was there. I am sure this is the new normal for the entire western united states, unfortunately.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2022, 3:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Xing View Post
People left big cities at a point during the pandemic, but a large number of those people came back. Additionally, there was a pause on immigration, which someone already pointed out.

So, if you grabbed those numbers during that time period, and most of those people came back, it all just comes off as pointless. People left. People came back.
LA traffic is easily back. It is insane, just like it used to be pre 2020. In some places, it seems like it's heavier.
     
     
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2022, 5:40 AM
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I left San Francisco the third week of March 2020 not only because everything shut down, but also because everything boarded up. The bars and restaurants were one thing, but when the highrise hotels boarded up, it was a signal that the disruption would be long and turbulent. And so it was.
     
     
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Old Posted Apr 5, 2022, 3:30 AM
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California has been hemorrhaging middle class residents for years. Not sure why people are trying to spin this.
     
     
  #18  
Old Posted Apr 5, 2022, 7:22 AM
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Just came back from a weekend in San Francisco and saw that despite all the news discussed about it here in this forum concerning housing and homeless, it wasn’t that bad. There was a lot of activity in both residential and commercial areas and foreign tourists were present along with the newer transplants and long-time residents.

Like I mentioned in another thread, the built form of SF outside of the core neighborhoods on the NE quadrant maintains high density and walkability while also being fun and simple to drive through. LA could learn a thing or two as well as other American cities trying to reach densities in which public transit and walking is just as viable as driving everywhere.

That being said, California has to embrace more urban development. Cities that have lost population during the pandemic will eventually grow again, but hopefully they grow in a way that does retain the working middle class.

Fortunately, I feel that SF still retained a bit of its identity within its neighborhoods despite the ongoing gentrification, which seemed to be limited to those newer developments in Mission Bay near Chase Center and Oracle Park.
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2022, 5:09 PM
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"Californian decline" just arrived in Brazil political discourse, specially in the ones happening in the far-right social media.

Interestingly, San Francisco area represented much better this new California stereotype, whereas it was only very few regions that grew faster in the 2010's than it did in 2000's, despite the high prices there. Its GDP is growing continuously at Chinese rates.

On the other hand, Los Angeles area and Central Valley population growth plunged in this decade and they're the main responsible for California slow-ish growth. And the main cause is not the "Californian communism", but the ending of Mexican immigration, something that the right section of political spectrum is asking for.

Go figure...
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Old Posted Apr 12, 2022, 7:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Yuri View Post
"Californian decline" just arrived in Brazil political discourse, specially in the ones happening in the far-right social media.

Interestingly, San Francisco area represented much better this new California stereotype, whereas it was only very few regions that grew faster in the 2010's than it did in 2000's, despite the high prices there. Its GDP is growing continuously at Chinese rates.

On the other hand, Los Angeles area and Central Valley population growth plunged in this decade and they're the main responsible for California slow-ish growth. And the main cause is not the "Californian communism", but the ending of Mexican immigration, something that the right section of political spectrum is asking for.

Go figure...
The Bay area was growing rapidly because many were chasing the dream of being in the center of the tech boom. I read that the bay area has drawn a large number of well educated Asian immigrants, especially from India, but I think many well educated Americans interested in tech were drawn there as well. I think that chasing is ending now and many are starting to look elsewhere. The Bay area may very well show a dramatic slowdown in growth like the LA has already. Isn't LA already like 40-50% Mexican already - it seems that LA is now losing other native born citizens much more than immigrants arriving. It's probably in a slow growth mode for the next decade as well, as it is so expensive. But LA seems to be blossoming even more culturally with new museums and art spaces, and the downtown is revived. But NYC has its 60/70s moment of relative 'decline', and has come back, so perhaps CA big cities will too.

Last edited by DCReid; Apr 12, 2022 at 7:11 PM. Reason: edit
     
     
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