California used to be the dream state to live in for many. The attraction of Hollywood, pristine beaches and sunny weather year round, were a siren call that few could refuse. So how is it possible that people are willing to leave this beautiful, idyllic state? The truth is that California has been showing signs of decline for decades, but hasn’t seen the negative impact on it’s population growth until recently.
In fact, since 2011, the net domestic migration has been negative. Meaning that more people move away from California than move in from other states. The state is still growing in population, because of the birth rate and international migration,but domestic residents are rapidly moving out.
Most of California’s tax revenue is dependent in large part on tech and entertainment industry millionaires, who support the various government programs in California. Even though California taxes millionaires and billionaires higher than most states, for a time we saw that higher taxes did not detract millionaires from moving to California, because their money making potential is still increased. However that changed in 2012 after the implementation of proposition 30, which imposed a higher tax rate on incomes, topping out at a 3% increase on incomes above $1 million (for married couples). After the proposition passed, the likelihood of wealthy residents fleeing the states increased by about 40%.
While the rich are fleeing, California has the highest poverty rates in the United States. Things like high housing costs and taxes have a large impact on the cost of living for the average person, and California, despite its wealth, has the nation’s highest poverty rates according to the US census Bureau. Anyone who visited coastal cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego has seen the massive homeless crisis that is affecting our streets. Civil Rights groups have sued for more homeless rights and new laws were passed in places like Los Angeles that make it illegal for police to remove a homeless person’s belongings from the street. It’s common now to see homeless people take up residences on the lawns of homeowners who are powerless to remove them and unable to ask for police assistance. A new movement is asking people to refer to the homeless people in their neighborhood as “our unhoused neighbors” and to welcome them into your neighborhood. Some residents resist this idea and raise concerns over human feces left on the sidewalks, used needles and other signs of drug use as well as the spike in property crime as reasons that they are cautious to let their ‘unhoused neighbors’ live near them.