Thursday notes: SPD nationally ranked, Stockton’s population keeps growing, the Asparagus Festival and more

Today’s installment includes a nod to the Stockton Police Department’s social media prowess, Stockton’s population growth, falling rates of home ownership, and an update on SCL’s Asparagus Festival location poll.

If Stockton is so miserable, why is our population growing?

The State of California released their population updates for 2012, and despite all the bad press, Stockton keeps growing. As of January 1st, 296,444 people call Stockton home, making us the 13th largest city in the state (though if you count the unincorporated areas within the city, we are closer to 320,000). Overall, Stockton grew  by .06% over 2011, which is pretty close to the statewide average of .08% and comparable to other Central Valley cities such as Sacramento (.07%) and Fresno (.09%).  While this growth is modest, it is also telling. There were 37 cities in California that actually saw a population decline, but despite our issues here in Stockton, we continue to gain residents at a respectable clip.

Stockton Police Department 32nd in the country for social media friendliness

Last week, released their rankings of the country’s most social media friendly police departments. As social media has become such a mainstay in our everyday lives, more departments are leaning heavily on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to disseminate information to the public and engage in dialogue with the citizens they serve. MPH’s list analyzed the top 100 departments for their social media savvy, examining Twitter followers and Facebook “likes,” amongst other characteristics. Our very own Stockton Police Department placed 32nd overall with a score of 70.2 (out of 100). With the surge in crime in recent years and lack of resources, it’s good to see SPD making full use of social media to help fight crime and keep citizens informed. I follow SPD on Facebook and Twitter and find their pages to be very helpful. Kudos, SPD! Keep up the good tweeting.


Housing prices are up, but home ownership rates are down. Thanks, investors.

Many media outlets are reporting that home prices are on the rise. However, the LA Times writes that this resurgence is having a negative effect on home ownership rates. Despite the market rebound, home ownership has actually dropped to 65%, a decrease from the year before. Why? Because investors are crowding out owner occupants. SCL reported a few weeks ago that investors accounted for 46% of Stockton home purchases over the last six months, indicating that home prices are being artificially inflated by trust funds and LLCs. This is a very real problem not only because would-be homeowners are being undercut, but some experts fear that investors are creating another housing bubble. On a smaller scale, more investors and fewer owner occupants makes it difficult to stabilize neighborhoods as these buyers generally view their purchase as an investment, not a part of a community.

2013 may be the last year that the Asparagus Festival is held downtown as officials are considering a move to the county fairgrounds

2013 may be the last year that the Asparagus Festival is held downtown as officials are considering a move to the county fairgrounds

SCL readers: Keep the Asparagus Festival downtown!

As you have probably heard, the Asparagus Festival and the city are negotiating a new deal which will hopefully keep the event in Downtown Stockton. However, as reported by SCL last week, festival officials are considering a move to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds should negotiations with the city fall through. Suffice to say, there are no shortage of opinions about these developments. On the festival’s Facebook page, dozens of fans are sounding off. The Records’ Mike Fitzgerald and Mike Klocke both penned columns on the topic. SCL’s story on the potential move has been read nearly 200 times, and our poll shows that 87% want to keep the Asparagus Festival downtown. Personally, I strongly believe that the festival should remain on the waterfront, and I sincerely hope the two sides can reach an agreement.

SCL pens another guest column for the Central Valley Business Journal—check it out!

The good people at the Central Valley Business Journal were kind enough to let SCL write another column for the May issue. This time, I discuss how city and economic development officials can attract businesses by providing walkable communities for their young and educated workforces. More and more companies are abandoning suburban office parks in favor of urban areas, and Stockton should take advantage of this migration. Check out the story here.

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Categories: Community Commentary

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia created SCL in March of 2012. Garcia is a Stockton native with a background in urban policy and planning, holding a Bachelor's Degree from UCLA as well as a Master's Degree in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies. He currently serves as the Policy Director at the UC Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. David was also COO at Ten Space, a real estate development firm focused exclusively on Downtown Stockton, and continues to advise on their projects. Prior to that, he worked three years as a researcher/analyst for a Congressional research agency in Washington, DC. The views expressed on this site are entirely of the author's

7 Comments on “Thursday notes: SPD nationally ranked, Stockton’s population keeps growing, the Asparagus Festival and more”

  1. Jon Seisa
    May 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    In regards to the increased Stocktonian population in this down turned economy, this may not necessarily be good, because, really, the big question is what TYPE of demographic new resident is Stockton (and other Central Valley cities) gaining? Are they more of the undesirable profile, under-educated sector, criminally inclined, and jobless crowd lacking skills for the Knowledge Economy, migrating in a great exodus from the more expensive higher standard of living regions of the Bay Area and SoCal, due to un-affordability? Are they low-end “economic refugees” seeking more affordable living conditions, and thus Stockton and the other Central Valley cities are becoming collection points, or “economic refugee camps”, for the flood of this demographic profile, who are not community contributors, but will most likely exacerbate current problems and overtax municipal systems? One indicator of the above will be if crime increases inordinately with the additive new population and Stockton sees a new crime wave surge. Obviously, more thorough data is needed to draw more tangible conclusions, so I would not necessarily consider this development as particularly positive. Rather, it is a wait and see scenario.

    • David Garcia
      May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      That is quite a leap, Jon. A couple points: First, there’s no way to gauge this past year’s growth in terms of demographics. However, data from the Census tells us that over the past ten years, median income has increased (even when adjusted for inflation), and since the worst of the recession, unemployment has fallen. Brookings puts out an economic recovery index, and Stockton is steadily recovering, faster than other cities (albeit because we fell further than most). These points indicate to me that we are certainly not becoming a slum, as you are alluding to. Second, gaining population because of Bay Area affordability should be considered a good thing. These “economic refugees” are most likely professionals who earn a decent living but would like to get more bang for their buck. Other cities have gained tremendously from the unaffordability of their neighbors. Case in point: Baltimore and Northern Virginia. Located close to DC, the cost of living in these places is incredibly cheap compared to Washington. As a result, many people with stable, high-paying jobs choose to live in Baltimore, Maryland or Virginia and commute. Even locally, Oakland attracts young professionals who cannot afford San Francisco. Generally, lower-income individuals are very immobile, so moving from one area to another is not commonplace.

      Lastly, population growth and immigration– even if it is just from the Bay- actually fosters economic growth. Researcher Richard Florida has done a lot of work in this area and finds that metro areas that are the most welcoming also turn out to be the most economically prosperous.

      My main point was not so much about the type of people moving here, but that we are gaining people at all. If you look at cities like Toledo, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland (basically any rust belt city), they have all seen dramatic decreases in population over the past 15 years, draining revenue and creating a surplus of housing and buildings. Only recently have these cities started to recover. At the very least, Stockton does not have to worry about an outward migration. At least not according to recent data.

      • Jon Seisa
        May 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

        Actually, things aren’t as rosy for California, though I really wish they were. Trends indicate a downward spiral, and this latest data confirms that California’s population growth has slowed to over HALF of its former robust annual growth rate in the 1980s. The California Gold appears much less than ever (2012 new residential construction is only 1/5th its former glory), and the state’s rural and Central Valley cities hardly have the exhilarating economies to provide their populations with gravy train substance (now, Americans’ average annual income is equal to 1979 standards) that they once had at the turn of the century when California was the 5th largest GDP economy in the world. California has now plummeted to 12th place, globally (scroll to bottom):

        Also, things have drastically changed since that Brookings report that cited data trends from 6 to 2 years ago (2007-2011) and does not factor in the “Critical Game Changer” of November-2012, being the double-tax-salvo of Prop 30, the biggest state tax increase in all of U.S. history, coupled with the nearly $70+ BILLION CA High Speed Rail construction initiative. The negative ramifications, in terms of tax burden, are startling. And now accountability reports are emerging that the CAHSR Authority has not been forthcoming in the numbers, costs and expenses, and has over-exaggerated and under-exaggerated certain claims. So who knows what unforeseen bureaucratic nightmare will emerge with this project for taxpayers, affecting local economies, standard of living and their residences.

        “California population growth remains low”:

        Most startling, California is experiencing a radical decline in child birth rates… “California ‘suffering unprecedented decline’ in child population”:

        Here is the real picture of California’s escalating deterioration and population flight from “New Geography”… it speaks volumes:

      • David Garcia
        May 3, 2013 at 11:24 am #

        Well, now you are just being alarmist. The demise of California has been much exaggerated. I will address your main points as succinctly and efficiently as possible

        – “data confirms that California’s population growth has slowed to over HALF of its former robust annual growth rate in the 1980”

        I thought you said population growth was a bad thing? Regardless, if there were to be negative effects from declining population growth in the 80s, I think we would have felt them by now.

        – “California was the 5th largest GDP economy in the world. California has now plummeted to 12th place, globally”
        California has not “fallen” so much as it has been passed by emerging economies such as Russia, India and Brazil. These are entire countries we are talking about here, not other states. While California’s growth slowed tremendously in 2008, growth has once again picked back up. I should also note that the falling GDP is much more closely correlated with the housing bust, not taxes.

        – “Also, things have drastically changed since that Brookings report that cited data trends from 6 to 2 years ago”
        I was not referring to this study, which I am not aware of. I was referring to Brookings’ metro monitor, which looks at metros.

        – “…double-tax-salvo of Prop 30, the biggest state tax increase in all of U.S. history”
        Every time taxes are raised or new “liberal” policies are implemented, predictions of doom and gloom always follow, predicting that businesses will finally be scared off, running to more “business-friendly” states. However, these predictions never come to fruition. When CEQA was passed, California was doomed. When taxes increased in 2005, we were done for. When SB 375 was passed, we were doomed once more. It never happens. In fact, research by Stanford confirms that tax rate fluctuations have no affect on the migration patterns of high-income earners.

        – ” accountability reports are emerging that the CAHSR Authority has not been forthcoming in the numbers, costs and expenses, and has over-exaggerated and under-exaggerated certain claims”
        I actually wrote about this a few weeks ago, and the GAO– one of the most trusted agencies in auditing- found that the CAHSR authority is actually doing a pretty good job of estimating costs and ridership numbers. You should read it sometime. Also, bids are coming in under initial estimates. But the real issue here is not CASHR itself, it’s that it will somehow sink the economy. I don’t really see the precedent here, as big public works projects like the Federal Highway System, the California Aqueduct or the Hoover Dam were all built without destroying the country or state, despite their outrageous price tags. In fact, they added to the economy.

        – “Most startling, California is experiencing a radical decline in child birth rates”
        This probably has more to do with younger generations choosing to have fewer children or waiting until they are more financially secure. But you appear to be contradicting yourself: In this line, declining birth rates are bad, but in the next, you cite Wendell Cox’s article which dismisses birth rates entirely when discussing population growth. That is completely contradictory. By the why, Wendell Cox routinely rails against urban renewal, and is a huge cheer leader for sprawl. I can easily dismantle all of his arguments against smart growth (and Joel Kotkin’s for that matter).

        I hope we can finally put this California doomsday talk to rest; it’s not happening. If California does somehow slip into oblivion by way of its own policies, I will buy you a beer. A highly taxed beer.

  2. Jon Seisa
    May 3, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    Alarmist? Now, really David, that’s a rather personal low blow. Why is presenting other people’s alternative research showing indicators of a “reality check” called “alarmist”? How over exaggerating. There are 2 videos on YouTube you should see; one, discusses the telltale indicators in mere infrastructural deterioration that is no longer being systematically maintained in California and suggests this is a precursory decline factor of the state’s overall economic and lifestyle status; the other video was done by the head of a national anti-billboard blight association in which he exclusively addresses the city of Stockton’s plethora of billboard blight and conveys that despite attempts at environmental improvements, other deteriorating lifestyle indicators loom just around the corner that speak of glaring standard of living degradation. When I have time to hunt and find those videos I will post them for your additive insight and pleasure. Good day.

    • David Garcia
      May 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

      Sorry, Jon. Didn’t mean for that to sound personal, definitely not my intent. My point was simply that every few years, there are some anecdotes or small sample sized data used to claim that California is on the decline, and those predictions never materialize. California will never fall into the disrepair that its critics long for because of the plethora of human and intellectual capital that is established. Stockton, on the other hand, has its own set of very unique issues and must consider big changes in order to emerge from this bankruptcy mess as a better city.

      • Jon Seisa
        May 3, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

        Very well, point well taken and apology accepted (but I know you didn’t mean that, you’re a great guy). Well, no one wishes more prosperous returns for California and Stockton than I. If the whole picture is presented, even the ugly side of the coin that we reluctantly want to deny, then the opportunity to rise up and say, “Well, if this is true, then we should take action to circumvent this potential crisis, this pending doom. So, what can we do? What strategies should we implement? How shall we mobilize?” But this cannot be done if one side of the coin is blotted out.

        I would encourage you (as an interesting exercise) to do a comparison analysis between the two similar port cities of Stockton, CA and Corpus Christi, TX, both of similar population size. You will see how political and economic policies in TX have excelled and facilitated CC’s economy with a sustained 5% unemployment rate and their citizenry possess more disposable income per household than Stocktonians, though they have a lower standard of living per capita in terms of expenses and costs and earn less than Stocktonians. This says they are doing something right and we are doing something wrong. Perhaps we should take note, heed and learn, and put the same strategies into practice? Should not others benefit from the tried and true successes that others have already trail blazed and pioneered?

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