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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Californication in Utah

When some people hear the word californication they either think of a song by a popular band or about a new show on TV. This term means something completely different in the intermountain region. It means the influx of domestic population migration from California to other western states such as Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and yes Utah. This population flow has had distinct effects on demographics and society in these states. Whether these effects are good or bad seems to be the main dispute.

When asked why they moved from California the majority have stated that their home state is too congested, polluted and crime ridden. Taxes are high and the housing is expensive. The average cost for a home in California is $430,370, well above the average sales price in Salt Lake City which is hovering around $230,000. This difference accounts the reason why Utah receives equity refugees from California each year.

What is the net effect of in migration from California? One of the most visible is the political climate. Many political gurus agree that Rocky Anderson would not have been elected mayor of Salt Lake City twice. Rocky Anderson readily admits to their influence in the election. Californians can also afford what we consider expensive houses. Houses in Daybreak. In fact, many of the owners of the most expensive homes are from California. Because demand of these houses have increased the price has correspondingly increased. Measuring the actual net effect of Californication on the local real estate market as a whole cannot be done with complete accuracy, but the effect is generally acknowledged.

The steady stream of middle to upper-class leaving California has reeked havoc on the state's tax base. While California has the most residents of any other state a 12 billion dollar shortfall in taxes is nothing to balk at. The lower class are also leaving California is well. The Economist indicates in its article Dreams of Californication that these workers were lured from the state with the promise of jobs in the construction booms that were going on in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. The article further explains that this population contains the most dreaded export of California: Gangs. Almost all of the well-known gangs in the Salt Lake City area have ties to California. Even if the connection is not clear it is fabricated by many of the members. Most of this effect is absorbed by Salt Lake City and West Valley. If you drive along 13th south under I-15 headed West you will start to the notice the graffiti that marks territory. In many instances Californians have brought with them many of the things that they moved from California to get away from. However, Utah has not seen the net inmigration of the magnitude that has been witnessed in Arizona and Nevade. Population growth estimates indicate that 88% of the increase is due to natural increase further dissipating the effect of the inmigration.

In my opinion the net effect of Californication on Daybreak has not been negative. Without a doubt they have contributed to home sales in Daybreak and therefore promoted its success. This in a state where some residents seem hesitant to embrace the New Urbanism concept. They have also brought diversity to the Daybreak community. I personally welcome this even though I am part of the majority. Daybreak has definitely not seen an increase in crime or traffic. Hopefully these positive effects will continue and the negative effects in Salt Lake City will be lessened in the coming years. I'm hopeful.

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