Friday, December 18, 2009

SCAG's Population Increase Assumptions Appear To Be A Tad Bit Off

One of the things that SCAG prides itself on is its ability to peer into California's future and tell the great unwashed exactly where they are all going. And don't think this is merely a frivolous exercise in soothsaying. Things such as RHNA numbers and the amount of state imposed redevelopment we will be forced to endure are often based on these predictions, and therefore are regarded as something very important in regional planning and city government circles.

For the longest time now SCAG has been projecting that population in California will continue to go through the roof, and therefore we need to go on an immediate building binge to accommodate all of those fortunate new arrivals. One of the big arguments against Measure V was that downtown condos had to be built because millions of people were heading our way and would need places to live. With some of them most certainly coming to Sierra Madre. You could almost hear the thunder of all those happy feet as they rumbled two by two down the slopes of the Rockies and across the deserts in their steady westward flight.

And SCAG continues to maintain that the Great California Population Boom is just a-rolling on. Here is a little Q&A they have up their site dealing with Census Data and SCAG's population projections.

How much has Southern California grown since the last census? Since the 1990 Census, the Southern California region as grown from 14.6 million to 16.5 million. An increase of 12.81%. All of the counties in the SCAG region experienced a growth of at least 12% with the exception of Los Angeles County, which grew by 7.4%.

Are the census figures on track with SCAG's previous projections? The census counts were approximately 2% lower (340,608) than SCAG previous projections of 16,856,614. Most of the difference was attributable to Los Angeles County (266,516).

How do the census figures compare to the state's own projections? The state's population projections were also higher than our census counts. The department of Finance has argued that the difference is attributable to an undercount of the population in California, which has been reported as 529,782.

As you can see, population growth has been the rule here for some time now, with the assumption being that a great rate of increase in folks coming here is as much a part of our world as sunshine and palm trees.

In SCAG's June of 2004 opus, Southern California Compass Blueprint Growth Vision Report ("Charting the course for a sustainable southland"), the following population projection was boldly asserted. This from a SCAG press release as little else is now available on-line:

This report begins with a general discussion of the challenges facing Southern California as it prepares to accommodate an estimated additional 6.3 million people by 2030.

Later in the report the following message reinforcement was provided:

Projections indicate that 6.3 million more people will be added to the region between 2000 and 2030, bringing the total population to 22.9 million.

So this Los Angeles Times item from yesterday must have come as something of a challenge to many Compass true believers:

California population growth slowest in more than a decade - California's population grew less than 1% in the last year, the slowest growth rate in more than a decade as migration to the state barely kept up with the significant number of people leaving, according to state Department of Finance data released today.

Across the state, natural increases rather than migration accounted for the largest source of population growth. Los Angeles County, for instance, lost more people than it gained through migration but grew slightly to 10.4 million people from July 2008 to July 2009 because births outstripped deaths.

And in July of this year the Los Angeles Times printed this shocking bit of news:

California could lose a House seat after 2010 census - Here's yet another result of the bad economy: California's congressional delegation is unlikely to grow and could even lose a seat after next year's census for the first time since stagecoach days.

Now all this does raise a question. If the current RHNA numbers we are struggling with are based on now reality-challenged assumptions of significant robust population increases, shouldn't they be revised significantly downward? Or maybe even scrapped altogether? Otherwise won't that lead to vast over-development and yet more empty condo complexes falling into receivership, with the involved banks then requiring yet more bailouts from the Feds? Something we are seeing today in so many cities within the 6 county SCAG region?

I'm sure the highly responsible visionaries at SCAG are very hard at work correcting these "Growth Visioning" assumption errors.


  1. When this very question was presented to the Sierra Madre Housing Element Consultant, Ms. $49,000, she replied that the population was growing. Did she say by 29,000 new people a month? This was a few months ago. Ms. $49,000 also informed the residents of Sierra Madre that it was the State Department of Finance that established the figures that are the rationale for development. Huh. Maybe someone should ask the consultant to spend some of that $49,000 to buy a copy of yesterday's LA Times.

  2. I remember that! She was questioned pretty closely about it, too. And really stuck to her guns. It was her entire rationale for accepting SCAG's housing projection numbers. What a waste of money she was!

  3. Most of these people are bought and paid for by the same special interests (SCAG/SACRAMENTO/BIA) who try to steal our elections, even having two of their minions on our city council, and several people on our city staff.

  4. So will SCAG admit their numbers were crap and redo the RHNA
    numbers? Or just move onto some other rationale to get the
    same result.

  5. The State Department of Finance needs to have the housing stock built in order to prop up State revenues, so of course they're going to say that. California's economy is driven by construction and development.

    Too bad these condos being stuffed into urban areas are not affordable to the population that is actually increasing the statistics - immigrants, both legal and illegal. Our Federal Government is allowing this to happen because the USA has very little actual, real product anymore, it's all consumer product (China), development and funny bank leverage. None of this economic activity creates anything of real value, but it's booked as GDP.

  6. 8:53 - So that's why SB 375 exists? To give a plausible excuse for busting into towns like ours and enabling the kind and scale of development we don't want?

  7. "Now all this does raise a question. If the current RHNA numbers we are struggling with are based on now reality-challenged assumptions of significant robust population increases, shouldn't they be revised significantly downward? Or maybe even scrapped altogether?"

    A similar argument was made by Councilman Zimmerman at a previous Council meeting.

    In response, Councilman Buchanan argued that we should instead, submit an unrealistically high estimate of population growth to send the world a message that Sierra Madre was continuing to grow.

    What do you bet that SCAG will cite to Buchanan's ludicrous argument when sticking us with some ridiculously inflated number of low income housing units during the next RHNA go round? It's nice to see that Buchanan is seeking to preserve Sierra Madre as a small town (NOT!).

  8. Buchanan and Mosca ostensibly argued for lower RHNA numbers for Sierra Madre during the last go round. However, both of them supported the DSP, which in its draft form, allowed up to 325 new condos to be built in the downtown corridor.


  9. Yes, Virginia, that's why SB 375 exists

  10. Buchanan waving around Michelle Zack's history book and gushing about his love for it was just way off the hypocrisy scale meter. John is probably the most anti-preservationist politician we've ever had, yet here he was emitting vast quantities of greenhouse gas about how much he thought of it. About as big a phony as you will find anywhere.

  11. Does anyone remember whether Green John pushed for permeable surfaces on the One Carter concrete/asphalt extravaganza?

  12. This article just issued from the National AIA policy machine could be a game-changer.

  13. Laurie,
    I can't pull up your link to the article???????

  14. Works fine from here. Try going to the main page, then the article link on the right sidebar.

  15. Thanks, Sir Eric,
    I have to go out Christmas shopping, but will read this soon as I get back!
    I always read anything Laurie puts up on the board.

  16. Poster 9:21. I'm with you. In addtion to his support for the DSP, Buchanan also voted to approve the One Carter Settlement, which led to the devastation of our hillsides.

    And he holds himself out as a preservationist!

  17. John Buchanan is to preservationism what Attila the Hun is to sensitivity training.

  18. I've heard Attila was very sensitive as a child, but that his emotional needs were not met. Particularly in regards to his father. Did you know that one time his father had Attila sewn into the carcass of a week long dead Yak, and left him there for three days? Needless to say, the one they called the Hun later took his rage out on the world, and millions paid a terrible price.

    What happened to John Buchanan is anybody's guess.

  19. The link Laurie recommends us, posted by Sir Eric at 11:13 is very interesting.
    Seems like a good idea for Sierra Madre.

    Thanks for posting this.

  20. Another day another lie grows bigger. And who in the world wants to trust or believe Joe or John ever, ever, ever?

    Real Estate, Big Developers and Other Liars who pocket money. We have to stop SB375.

    Thank you for Atilla the Hun! Perfect analogy. If only the Mosca and the Hun would GET IT and GET OUT!

  21. Ed,

    Michelle Zack is not a preservationist and her so-called "history" book on Sierra Madre is clearly pro-development propaganda. So, it is therefore, no surprise that Buchanan would laud her book.

    BTW Sir Eric...Michelle Zack is NOT "one of us."

  22. You know, you're right about Zack and developers. Look at what happened to Alta Dena after that book came out.

  23. Joe and John in part brought us the SCAR OF 1 CARTER. Now Stonehouse is about to become SCAR # 2. These capitulations to development are as much an affront to our town as the condos being touted for our main drag. The "plants" in our City Administration and "Legal Council" will do nothing to reverse the damage ahead from Stonehouse. HOW DO WE STOP STONEHOUSE DEAD IN ITS TRACKS? It can be done. Other Cities have won this battle. Why not here in Sierra Madre?

  24. If in late April the City Council votes Joe Mosca Mayor of Sierra Madre, then kiss Stonehouse and everything else you care about goodbye.

  25. Nor can we see a "takeover" of Alverno by the "good neighbors" who want to see it dissapear and fall into the hands of developers....that is where it is headed......think about that. Keep it a school. We need to help them.

  26. Tired.....You mean like the Lincoln Crossing and La Vina projects?

    Oh Yeah! Zack is definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing. Unfortunately, no effort was made to vet Zack and her book before recommending it.

  27. You're right. So when is the book burning?

  28. 7:05 - I'm sorry, but that is just so much crap. Have you even read it? To say I didn't "vet" it before recommending it is flat out dishonest. I read it cover to cover. Unlike you I read books before I discuss them. It's very well done and has a strong preservationist message. And why let people like John claim it as his own, especially when it really never was?

    Hey, let's use your method of reasoning. You're really a dirt trying to make Zack's book seem like its one of yours.

    I'm getting sick of this crap, I really am.

  29. Our Town @5:31, you are right that the community can stop Stonehouse, but it will take a huge effort on the part of a very few committed individuals. After you've been in Sierra Madre politics for a while you realize how small a number is actually active, and what an outrageous amount of time and energy it takes. Civic fatigue is very real here, and people cycle in and out of participation until they leave it all together - either the town, or the political arena. There is no denying what one committed person, willing to walk the town, petition in hand, can do. But it's a long, hard fight, and the developers' rights trump the neighbors rights every time, and the city is just interested in protecting itself, not residents.
    And most unfortunately, you have to watch out for betrayal. That's how One Carter was lost.

  30. Would it matter if Kurt Christensen our former Community Development Director of Sierra Madre fudged the numbers sent up to Scag in 2004 and purposedly upped our required numbers...claiming we had a project approved (it was not) that would have made room for more lower income units. He also just resigned (or was asked to )from Yorba Linda. That city ring a bell ??? and their fight not to have their quaint downtown built out???

  31. Whaaaaat 6:12?

    Can we prove that he monkeyed around with the numbers?

    I know he was set on ruining the hillsides, for a feather in his cap. In fact, that's probably what got him the next job, and he got to leave before any of the actual destruction/construction and implosion of developers took place.

  32. Sir Eric....I did read the book before commenting on it and your assertion that I did not is disingenuous, to say the least. Clearly, you have no historical knowledge of Sierra Madre and are easily mislead by your handlers.

    Your insecure, childish behavior in dealing with any type of criticism is obvious and is clear evidence that even you know you're not what you claim to be.

    There is now, at least one less person, that will take you and this blog seriously.

  33. Hey 4:04, start your own blog.
    Maybe you could do something constructive with your time.

  34. 404! You bought a dirt book????? Omigod!

    Don't you ever expect to get invited to OUR reindeer games!

  35. Good advice, 4:12. I never intended to be the only blogger in town. Obviously the pressure is getting to me.

    4:04? In the upper right corner is the "create blog" button. Go for it! Obviously you are the light, and we the darkness begging for enlightenment.


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