Memo to all those Californians now thinking seriously of moving to another state, thus cashing out on their high-priced homes, avoiding high prices on their new homes, but risking higher property taxes and utility bills in those new locations, while avoiding many of California’s regulations on things like indoor smoking and plastic straws:
Your new neighbors might not be so happy to see you move in.
Sure, whoever you buy that next house or condo from will be delighted to greet you. But everyone else? Not by a long shot.
Anti-California sentiment began as early as the 1980s, when migrants from this state began moving to neighboring Oregon, driving up real estate prices and creating traffic headaches as more and more arrived.
Oregonians began putting up signs beside roads near their southern border. “Don’t Californicate Oregon,” they read — and still do in some places.
Now that sentiment has spread to a significant number of other Western states.
One candidate in 2020’s election for mayor of Boise even suggested building a wall around his city to keep newcomers out, stymied mainly by the fact it would have cost $26 billion.
Some states would apparently be glad if the constitutional guarantee of free movement between the states were amended away. Some of the Republican politicians who govern Texas, for example, have suggested their domination could end if too many Californians migrate to that relatively affordable housing state and vote Democratic.
Their rhetoric doesn’t quite match that of Wayne Richey, an auto-body repair man defeated last November in his run for Boise mayor. “It’s not just a California thing,” he told a reporter. “It’s new people. They’re driving up the price of housing here so much that people I know are moving away.”
Actually, 21,272 Californians moved to Idaho between July 2017 and July 2018, the latest period for which U.S. Census information is available. During the same time, 5,262 persons left Idaho for California.
So this state’s net out-migration to Idaho was 16,010 during a single year.
That’s just one state, helping account for California’s slowest-ever decade of growth during the last 10 years and for its net loss of 40,000 persons during 2018 to out-migration.
Those Californians helped make Star, Idaho, 17 miles northwest of Boise, the fastest-growing city in both Idaho and America.
Some California officials point out that the out-migration of Californians isn’t quite as unprecedented as it may seem. The state finance department, for example, noted that federal defense spending cuts in the mid-1990s spurred an even larger exodus.
Some of the California outflow making other states nervous stems from the efforts of those same states.
Take Texas, whose former governor Rick Perry spent many years making radio and TV commercials touting the advantages for businesses that moved from California to the Lone Star state.
The biggest fish to bite at this pitch, which included huge property tax exemptions and civic aid in building new plants and facilities, was Toyota, which relocated its U.S. headquarters from the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance to the Dallas suburb of Plano.
Perry never figured that many of the Toyota executives and workers moving to Texas might vote Democratic. Some lean that way, and they contributed to a narrow electoral escape in 2018 for Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in a campaign that made Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke a national figure.
The annual inflow of about 60,000 Californians to Texas shows few signs of abating.
Combined with more political activity from the almost 3 million Latinos in Texas, they have given the Lone Star state a faintly purple hew.
Similarly, an influx of Californians working for aerospace companies that opened facilities in Phoenix and Tucson over the last 15 years has been a major factor in changing Arizona from a solidly Republican state to an electoral tossup.
So the change in California’s longtime pattern of fast growth may be as bad news for some of the emigrants’ new neighbors as it seems to politicians in the state they’ve left behind, which is about to lose one seat in Congress for the next decade.
Email Thomas Elias at [email protected]