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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]

Leaving Los Angeles…
… and rushing to Riverside...

[Ray Haynes] 4/19/05

“People Leaving County in Droves” says the headline in the LA Daily News. “…Decline Continues in San Francisco,” says the San Francisco Chronicle. Two of the marquee city names in the world—beautiful locations on the coast, culture, fine dining, and diverse populations, complete with major research, science and educational institutions. How could this be happening? Have they found a better beach? A better view than that from the Hollywood Hills? Better shopping than the Westside Pavilion? Where are they going?

According to the US Census Bureau, they’re going to Riverside. And San Bernardino. And Bakersfield. Or even worse—out of state entirely, to Clark County, Nevada, and Maricopa County, Arizona!

We who live in and represent Riverside and the Inland Empire, and the San Joaquin Valley, have known this for a while. An area long used as the butt of jokes about lack of culture, deserts, smog, traffic and “the 909,” has increasingly become a place people want to live. And not just any people, but LA people! People who have allegedly lived the good life, been close to the beach, and Hollywood, and the cultural centers downtown, and have now chosen to live in Corona, and Temecula, and Murrieta, and Lake Elsinore. Chosen!

The census data shows that the rate of people leaving Los Angeles to surrounding counties has accelerated, and that San Francisco had the steepest drop in the state, despite improving economic conditions in the area. But why?

Clearly housing costs are a major driving force. Even as housing prices have more than doubled in the outlying areas, the prices in LA and San Francisco are even more ridiculous. People are trading small places in LA for larger places and longer commutes in Riverside and San Bernardino, and even Kern County. This must confound the urban planners, who are certain that if we just build denser housing with more mass transit, everybody will be a lot happier.

But it’s also about quality of life. Despite the fact that nearly half the legislature hails from Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and has been for as long as anyone can remember, and despite being home to some of the richest people and most valuable and beautiful property in America, they have managed to turn their urban cores into nightmares. Their schools are among the worst with no prospect of improving, crime continues to be a real concern, and government services are spotty at best. They may not have to drive as far to get somewhere, but the drive will be miserable from beginning to end any time of day.

The middle class is leaving as fast as they can leave. It is looking like all that will be left in the end are the super-rich who can afford private security and private schools and homes on the hills and on the beach, and the super-poor who can’t afford to move.

And what are these cities and their legislators doing to stop the exodus? Passing symbolic resolutions. Performing gay marriages. Investigating the police. Letting the public employee unions have their way. Piling more mandates on employers. Planning more trains. Expanding services to illegal aliens.

I welcome LA’s refugees to Riverside and the other non-beach regions of our state. I hope this population shift brings new clout to the Inland Empire, and the San Joaquin Valley, and other places where rational, economically sensible, politically independent people with a strong sense of community, family, and faith have congregated over the years. Perhaps we can change the political dynamic that has kept LA and San Francisco largely in control of our state’s budgets and priorities, squandering money on their own corrupt messes, and short-changing the rest of us—a situation that has forced us to do more with less in education, transportation, and infrastructure. Perhaps we’ll finally get our “fair share” of state revenues, so that we can continue to provide a way of life and standard of living that has people deciding that maybe there are more important things than living next to the beach.

Welcome, new neighbors! We’ll leave the light on for you…CRO

Mr. Haynes is a California Assembleyman representing Riverside and Temecula and frequent contributor to


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