Will Sacramento Do Anything to Stop State’s “People Problem”?

To say that the Bay Area has problems would be like saying the universe has stars. There are too many to count and even trying to do so creates a cosmic headache.

One of these innumerable problems recently caught the eyes of the Wall Street Journal, which tagged a late March story with the headline “San Francisco Has a People Problem.”

“After decades of growth,” says the Journal, “the nation’s tech capital is losing more residents than it is attracting as housing costs force families to pack up and leave.”

During 2016 and 2017, the Journal continued, “more people moved out of the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area — an urban core of 4.7 million people in a broader region known as the Bay Area — than moved into it from other parts of California or the U.S., according to U.S. census data.”

Then “in the year that ended July 1, the region showed a net loss of nearly 24,000 residents to the rest of the country, roughly double the loss of the previous year and a sharp reversal from net annual gains of about 15,000 as recently as 2013-14.”

This out-migration is consistent with what has been taking place across the state. Not long ago, we wrote about Californians fleeing to Las Vegas for more affordable housing, smoother roads, and a government burden that doesn’t feel like a boot on the neck. But people have been voting with their feet and leaving for some time. Former Californians didn’t become fed up just yesterday.

PRI has also documented the commercial exodus, as well. The business climate in this state is simply inhospitable.

Policymakers seem oblivious to the departures. They keep raising taxes, they can’t spend other people’s money fast enough, and they’re doing nothing to make the state the destination it once was for the creators, innovators and hard workers who once rushed to California because it was the land of golden opportunity.

With the horizon so bleak, one looks for even the dimmest of lights. And it’s a struggle even to find that. But there are a few free-market bills being considered in Sacramento, and there’s also legislation that would ease the state’s housing crisis that has driven so many away.

Multiple proposals to break up the state into two or more parts have been spiraling in recent news cycles, and it’s not hard to sympathize with those who want to stay where they are but still escape the California madness. To the members of the ruling class in Sacramento, these are the state’s deplorables whose interests have, at best, a third-rate status.

A breakup should be a last resort after nothing else has worked. In the meantime, Sacramento must start listening to the concerns of California’s deplorables if we are truly going to Make California Great Again and end the state’s “people problem.”

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.


Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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