[Source: Los Angeles Daily News] Big cities are growing, but so are the suburbs, where the region’s population is flocking for a slim supply of available housing, according to an annual state report released Monday.
The Golden State’s population expanded to 39.3 million residents, an increase of just less than 1 percent with Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties seeing growth from January 2015 to January of this year.
Despite the lure of the big city, places far from urban downtown areas have been seeing notable boosts in population, such as Lake Forest in Orange County, which grew 3.7 percent. Eastvale, a community in western Riverside County, saw its numbers rise by 3.8 percent. Santa Fe Springs, Azusa and Santa Clarita also saw growth.
More baby boomers are downsizing and finding homes closer to rapid transit lines, shopping and restaurant hubs, agreed Jim Link, CEO of the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors.
“I do think there is still a strong movement toward the downtown lofts and condos,” Link said. “But I think you’ll find in Santa Clarita, for example, that with recent new construction near their central core, where the larger employers are, is where people move.”
For the first time, the city of Los Angeles reached 4 million people and led the state with 12,224 new multi-family units.
In fact, most of the 482 cities across California saw their populations grow in 2015, including Beaumont, Long Beach and Irvine, even though the housing market remained flat across board, the report noted.
What’s driving the growth?
With the addition of 450,000 new jobs last year and its title as the eighth-fastest growing state in the nation, California’s economy “is on fire,” said Christopher Thornberg, a founding partner of Beacon Economics, which provides economic analysis to private businesses and the public sector.
But it’s a mixed bag, he added.
California’s affordable housing stock is not keeping up with its population growth.
“It all boils down to this,” Thornberg said. “Taxes and regulations are a problem for state businesses, but it’s not what defines California. In the end, this California growth story is a lack-of-housing story.”
Hasan Ikhrata, executive director for the Southern California Association of Governments, agreed, saying the continued population increase should be a wake-up call to leaders.
“What should be alarming to leaders is that our housing is not keeping up with the growth,” Ikhrata said. “We have one of the worst housing affordability rates in the country.”
Ikhrata said millennials who are starting families want to move to suburbs but also want the convenience of public transportation they grew accustomed to in urban areas.
“Right now we should provide more options for cars and more multifamily and single-family affordable homes,” he added.
Monday’s report also shows:
- Of 482 California cities, 44 saw population reductions, and one experienced no change.
- Vernon in Los Angeles County had the largest percentage growth in California, increasing by 72 percent because of a new housing development.
- Net housing units were down 3 percent, a result of wildfires in unincorporated portions of Lake County and Calaveras County.
Amid the gains, however, there were some notable losses, including an 11 percent decrease among inmates held in jails, a figure that stood out to Doug Kuczynski, a research program specialist with the state Department of Finance, which issued the annual report.
Those who live in college dorms, prisons and military barracks make up about 2 percent of California’s population. But that population decreased by 1 percent, a result of a drop caused by prison realignment, which began in California in 2011 to fulfill a U.S. Supreme Court mandate to reduce overcrowding in state prisons. It handed over to counties the responsibility of jailing and supervising the probation of non-violent criminals.
“There are probably more inmates who are paroled,” Kuczynski added. “With the start of prison realignment, jails actually saw an increase. Now that more inmates are being paroled, we’re seeing jail populations fall as well.”
The state’s population estimates are produced each year to help the state know how to allocate funding.
Source: Los Angeles Daily News
May 2, 2016