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.