What’s driving those moving to, from or across California? We want to hear from you

Good morning, and we welcome you to the Essential California Newsletter. It’s Thursday, April 6.

We now have new census data that gives us an idea of how the state’s population fluctuated in the first two years of the COVID-19 epidemic.

In the early stages of the pandemic (2020-2021), there was a significant exodus from urban areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

However, the exodus slowed down over the next year to mid-2022. Some counties with lost residents are starting to rebuild their populations while others in rural areas are experiencing a decline.

“The big takeaway,” my colleague Terry Castleman reported this week:

“Californians relocated quite a bit in response to the pandemic and other factors but many counties are now starting to resettle into the pre-pandemic status quo.”

These numbers are the most important

The following 10 counties had the highest rate of population loss in the period July 2021 to July 2022:

  • Lassen County: -6%
  • Alpine County: -3.64%
  • Plumas County: -2.95%
  • Sierra County: -2.36%
  • Mono County: -2.13%
  • Trinity County: -1.74
  • Del Norte County: -1.71%
  • Napa County: -1.40%
  • Mendocino County: -1.34%
  • San Mateo County -1.34%

During the same period, the top 10 counties for population growth were:

  • Yolo County: +4.26%
  • Merced County: +1.95%
  • Santa Cruz County: +1.49%
  • Santa Barbara County: +1.46%
  • San Benito County: +1.36%
  • Yuba County: +1.31%
  • Placer County: +1.20%
  • San Luis Obispo County, +0.97%
  • Madera County: +0.85%
  • Riverside County: +0.84%

Statewide, California’s rate of population loss also slowed — from a 0.91% drop in the first year of that data set to a 0.29% decline over the second year.

So what’s driving these more recent shifts? This varies from one county to the next. Experts and officials suggest that there are some factors that influence the outcome. These include students returning to college towns, some jobs sectors returning to in-person employment, and prison closures (meaning that many of those incarcerated have been released). There may also be more affordable housing options in some suburban areas.

Paul Ong, director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA, told Terry that cities have “once again become appealing to a new generation of young workers.”

Cities are still struggling despite slowing down the loss of residents. Issues such as housing, public safety and remote work’s effects on commuting are affecting their bottom lines. That’s raising concerns among some economists of a “doom loop” that could undo decades of urban renewal, causing even more city dwellers to head for the suburbs.

When we asked early last month how the COVID-19 emergency had changed Californians’ lives, some of you shared your experiences moving — across, into or out of California — for jobs, retirement or to be closer to family.

The census data provide some broad strokes, but to get the details, we’re turning to your personal experiences again. Let us know your thoughts:

Have you moved from one California county or another — or out This is state entirely — since the pandemic started? Your decision was based on what?

And if you haven’t moved, what changes have you noticed in your community as some residents move out or others move in?

We aim to include as many of your submissions in the next edition of the newsletter as possible. Please keep your responses to 150 words.

To share your experiences, take our survey Keep checking back to see your responses in the next edition of Essential California.

Now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Not all sites that we link to will allow you to access the same number of stories as you would without registering.


Anyone who says “no one walks in L.A.” never met Pedro Moura and his friends. They crossed the 25-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard between Chinatown and Pacific Coast Highway last month. “At times, walking this city feels like disobeying its well-orchestrated wishes,” Moura wrote this week for The Times. “Wouldn’t this place be a lot better if it were a little easier to experience on foot?” Los Angeles Times

An illustration of a road through town to the ocean with a sunset sky

(Sam Alden/For The Times)

Los Angeles has enacted a new tax on large property sales that is intended to raise funds to combat homelessness Saturday However, they are still in legal limbo. There are two lawsuits against the so-called mansion fee. City officials must decide whether or not to start spending revenue that they may have to pay back later, if they lose in court. LAist

Early-1900s L.A. was rich in private social clubs, fueled by Angelenos’ desire for belonging. But as Patt Morrison explored, Many organizations’ history was marred by the exclusion of women or minorities. Los Angeles Times

Listen to the “The Times Podcast” for important news and more

It can be daunting to wake up every morning and keep track of current events. If you’re seeking a more balanced news diet, “The Times” podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano and a variety of reporters from L.A. Times’ award-winning newsroom deliver the best stories from the Los Angeles Times each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Listen to and subscribe wherever podcasts are available.


A new effort is underway to provide California’s undocumented farmworkers a path to citizenship. The bill from state Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) would create a pilot program, allowing “our undocumented friends, family and neighbors to come out of the shadows, to live lives free of fear and allow them to qualify for the safety net programs that they deserve and pay into,” she said in a statement. Fresno Bee

It’s a crucial moment for the future of public transit in the state. Many agencies are considering whether to reduce service or increase fares, as ridership and revenue have dropped dramatically. CalMatters

Gov. Gavin Newsom spent this week on his Campaign for Democracy TourA trip to some of the red states he says are “experiencing a massive roll back of freedoms led by the GOP.” On Wednesday he met with students of New College of Florida, the small liberal arts school undergoing a dramatic shift in leadership, orchestrated by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Sacramento Bee


Southern California’s garment industry employers are notorious for wage theftAccording to a federal labor report, this is the case. Labor Department officials conducted a survey of more than 50 manufacturers, contractors, and found that more than 80 percent had violated Fair Labor Standards Act. “In a particularly egregious case … a contractor paid garment workers as little as $1.58 per hour,” officials said. Los Angeles Times

A court battle between San Francisco’s digital library and the government could result in similar online archives being affected across the country.. A federal judge sided in favor of publishers in a multimillion dollar copyright infringement lawsuit against Internet Archive. This was because the Internet Archive temporarily allowed unrestricted online access in the early days after the pandemic. KQED


The Bay Area will add approximately 2,000 acres to its protected green space. Conservationists recently finalized the $22.4-million purchase of Lakeside Ranch south of San Jose, and their plan is to keep the rural property in its mostly natural state — plus add some hiking trails. San Francisco Chronicle

Most of California’s COVID-19 rules have eased with the state lifting its pandemic emergency declaration. However, some countries still have their own guidelinesThese include rules regarding masking in healthcare settings, quarantine and isolation times, reporting of new infections and outbreaks, and reporting time frames. Here’s what’s changed in L.A. County. Los Angeles Times


Photographers in San Francisco will be taking advantage of a rare opportunity this weekend: capturing the “California Henge.” Saturday’s sunrise is set to to align just right with the city’s street grid, providing a stunning view (weather permitting) available only twice a year. Los Angeles Times

Play free online games

Find our daily crossword puzzle, word search, and arcade game freebies at latimes.com/games


Today’s California landmark This is where it comes from Frank Damon Pacific Palisades Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Rolling hills covered in bright yellow and purple wildflowers.

Photographed April 3, 2023, the wildflower-rich landscape at Carrizo Plain National Monument.

(Courtesy Frank Damon)

Frank writes:

Carrizo Plain National Monument can be found about 150 miles north from Los Angeles in a valley located between Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield. It is believed to have been formed by natural erosion and the San Andreas Fault over thousands of years. It was home to antelopes and grazing elk in the past, but now it’s home to wildflowers that are spectacular and vibrant during spring. They are even more spectacular this year, thanks to the record-breaking rainfall.

What are California’s essential landmarks? Send us photos of your California special spots by filling out this form — natural or human-made. Tell us why it’s interesting and what makes it a symbol of life in the Golden State. Be sure to only include photos that were taken by you. Your submission may be published in the next edition of the newsletter.

We would love to hear from you about how we can improve this newsletter. Comment to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.

Next post April 7, 2023 – Robb Report