Californication Part One
By: Doug Hawley
Oregonian Special Californication Issue February 10, 2045
Over the last few years, the trickle of people moving north into the greater northwest has gone from a trickle to a torrent. The population table tells the story:
|State/Province||Population (000 omitted)|
|2010 census||2044 estimated||2055 projected|
U.S. Census demographer Hal Lelen was blunt in analyzing the numbers. His interview with the Oregonian has been edited for length and clarity:
Oregonian: Give us a short version of what's happening.
Lelen: People don't want to live in California anymore.
Oregonian: That was definitely short. Could you expand on that?
Lelen: Well, you got the climate and the water situation. The lack of rain and snowfall, except for the occasional monsoon, has caused the state agriculture to plummet, and for people to rely on very expensive desalinated water. Then you have the hot spells that regularly kill thousands of the very young and very old.
Oregonian: What has been the effect on the economy?
Lelen: Devastating. Agriculture is down 45% from the peak. Since tech companies can pretty much go where they want, they've been leaving in droves.
Oregonian: How has that affected the population mix there?
Lelen: The short version is that white people with money have moved out and everybody else is stuck. California is now 80% "minority". Some of those that have moved out have been blunt about wanting to live with their own kind, whether own kind means race, ethnicity or class is a matter of debate. Whatever the reason, the exodus of the well-to-do has caused a vicious cycle of higher taxes on the rich, which accelerates their leaving.
Oregonian: Was there a tipping point when the California success story changed?
Lelen: There were two related event. The estimated population briefly broke 50,000,000 before beginning to decline, and commuters broke four hours in their cars in Los Angeles and the Bay Area in April of 2036. Even though nothing had changed much from the previous month, it triggered the idea that it was just too much.
Governor Neil Hamilton is the first Oregon Republican governor since Victor Atiyeh left office in 1987. Former Governor Tom McCall is remembered for wanting people to visit, but not to stay. Hamilton said "Better yet, don't come at all." He was elected on a solidly anti-Californian platform. So far all of his attempts to prevent immigration have been thwarted by the Oregon Supreme Court. The court wasted no time in declaring that employment discrimination based on previous residence was illegal, but Hamilton keeps trying to find a way to "keep those damned Californians" out.
Governor Hamilton face turned red as he told us "We've got too many of our own out of work. We've got water shortages. The Portland metro area has passed five million people, and our treasured Oregon lifestyle is being ruined by the minute. How could anybody want more Californians here, or anyone else for that matter, doing all that damage as well as pricing the locals out of their homes?"
As far back as the 1960s some Oregonians railed or even acted against "Californication". Today the movement is very popular and active. Cars with California plates are frequently vandalized. Jason Atkins was the leader of Oregon for Oregonians, or OFO, until it was discovered that he was born in San Diego. He was frequently expected of being an outsider because of his tan. Current leader, Duke Hanley, has presented his birth certificate from Good Samuel hospital in Portland to anyone who asked. His take "We don't condone violence against Californians. Sure some cars have been shot up, but I don't think any of our people have done it. We do favor not socializing with or hiring any Californians, but that is legal isn't it?" Hanley does not seem to follow court decisions but seems to know all the details about the home team NBA Trailblazers.
When we interviewed recent arrivals from California, none wanted their names used for obvious reasons. We heard things like "Why do those people hate us?" "We love it here and just want to fit in." "I can't get any good French food here." "I didn't expect so many people of color." "How soon can I get Oregon plates?"
We did a quick overview of the other states in the Northwest to get their reaction to the northern population growth. Washington has benefited from all of the tech firms that have relocated there, but it has had some of the same problems as Oregon, and despite building more mass transit, Seattle traffic is as bad as anywhere in California at its peak. Idaho with its past as a home for white nationalists worries about the number of people who have come explicitly to escape non-whites. Montana is mostly happy about the boon to the economy that came with the Californians and still is not too crowded.
British Columbia is a special case. For many years BC welcomed rich immigrants with money to invest. As the climate warmed, the northern parts of the province became more habitable, and agriculture moved north as well. Only in the last few years have people started to be concerned about overpopulation.
The California emigration has been largely to the Northwest. Californians were used to visiting and were comfortable with the mountains, beaches and deserts here. The South has the many of the same problems as California and Californians don't want to live in the Midwest and East where people have been moving out for years.
Our next issue will cover the Californian effect on the Oregon economy.
Oregonian Special Californication Issue Feb 11, 2045
Continuing our series on "Californication", we look at one of the perceived grievances of Oregon natives about the California immigration.
Native Oregonians may hate them, but has the Californian wave hurt the Oregon economy? If we just look at the economy, and ignore the downside of crowding, the answer is probably no. Californians have brought a lot of money with them, new businesses, and support for education. Because our new citizens insisted, we now teach Spanish in all of our elementary schools. That by itself has been a big aid in expanding the state's business with Latin America.
Let's look at the economy region by region and see if Californians have helped.
In Portland metro, the influx from California and elsewhere has been a tremendous boon to the building industries. Just about any able-bodied person can get a job at good wages. Construction has mostly been in multistory apartments for the growing population and office buildings for the various startups and home offices previously located in California and elsewhere. The businesses that don't officially move their headquarters to the Portland area, like Apple and Microsoft, now have most of their executives there. Intel moved its headquarters to Washington County, in what is known as the Silicon Forest years ago. If a business does not need a specific location, Portland is the place to go. The price conscious or the income tax escapees go the sales tax side of the river, the Vancouver Washington area which now holds more than a million people. Rich executives make sure that the local schools are well funded and that there are plenty of gourmet restaurants and luxury stores.
Coastal Oregon is another story. New residential building in the tsunami zone has been brought to a near halt with the requirements of new houses to be "tsunami proof". Some people and businesses have moved a little inland along the major coastal rivers, Tillamook, Siletz, Umpqua and Rogue, but the difficulty and cost of building on unstable, uneven land has mostly kept people out. A few rich out-of- staters have built mansions along some of the rivers for the fishing and some of those houses have been built on pillars, but riverside building is undesirable for most. Tourist business, fishing and forestry dominate the economy, much as they have for the last hundred and fifty years. A new smaller player is the offshore energy sector. In the last ten years it has grown to be a major source of energy in the state, joining hydroelectric and more than replacing coal and gas. While employing few now that the turbines and windmills have been built, it produces a lot of value. Fisheries here have been hit hard as they have been around the world. The rise in oceanic temperatures and acidification has made populations of both fish and shellfish to either move or plummet. By poundage of production, rock fish are down 10%, oysters 23% and crab 14% from last year.
The Columbia River / I84 region is a success story. It is still having a relatively low population, but after years of stagnation, the population has doubled with two new major industries. Going back as far as 2010, drones were manufactured on both sides of the Columbia. The Columbia River region from Hood River to Hermiston has stayed in front as drones have become sophisticated and ubiquitous. Drone makers now employ 5,000 in the region. The other new driver is electric cars. This seeming oddity originated with a couple of sources. Oregon has a long history of metal fabrication, which made car parts production an easy step. The other source is the lone genius, Orville Jones, who tinkered with batteries in his Hood River garage until he was able to produce one better than any other manufacturer. In the old days, he probably would have gone full scale somewhere else, or outsourced to Asia, but he wanted to keep his manufacturing in Oregon. Jones said, "The California dream has become a nightmare". Pears, apples and watermelons still produce the same economic value that they did in the past, their ranking has fallen.
California can't get much credit for the new industries along the Columbia except for some savvy investing in the new industries, but they were behind the building of many of the second and retirement homes close to the Columbia. Another boon to the area was not due to either locals or those from out of state. With higher temperatures from global warming I84 is rarely closed due to ice and snow as it was in the past.
The Willamette Valley south of Portland has not changed as much as some of the regions. Agriculture remains the number one economic driver. The rich soils formed by the Missoula floods are up to half a mile deep. It has a large share of all possible temperate zone crops and some livestock. Various berries, filberts, oats, wheat, grapes for wine, wheat and oats are all grown here. The decrease in California production has increased the value of production here. An obstacle to the future of agriculture here and around the world is the huge decline in insects. Research at Oregon State University has concentrated on producing genetically hardier species of bees and other pollinators.
The Valley has gained some startups and established Portland businesses because of the crowding and traffic in Portland. PolliCorp is working towards an efficient way to pollinate plants without insects. As with the rest of Oregon, it has gained its share of Californians and their businesses.
The Central Oregon area has gotten a jolt from the Californian immigration. Bend, Redmond and Madras have all doubled in population since 2010, and Bend is now second in population only to Portland in Oregon. Rich Californians have either located here or have second homes, mostly for the access to wide open spaces and the recreation. Besides construction, central Oregon has become a center for the design and manufacture of expensive recreation wear. Some of the success of Central Oregon's rise has been the decline of Asian imports.
Southeast Oregon or, as it is sometimes known, the Great Outback has been little affected by California or anything else for a number of years. Because of its low value land and little water, it is mostly devoted to sagebrush and cattle grazing. Here and there are Californian enclaves for the poorer immigrants, and because of cheap labor and land, there is some manufacturing in support of the industry along the Columbia. The biggest is the Widjet Company which makes parts for drones.
Southern Oregon has been colonized by California for a long time, and the process continues. Most of those who move here are the rich retired, so the major effect is on the service segment stores, motels, gas stations and so on. Californian's taste for Southern Oregon marijuana and the US legalization in 2025 contributed to it being the biggest source of income for the region. With the movement of some film stars from the frantic Hollywood scene, which started even before Bruce Campbell moved to the region, several motion pictures and three television series are currently being shot here. It is no British Columbia, but filming has increased steadily over the years.
Despite all of these upsides, the newcomers have burdened the state with huge infrastructure bills to support their increase to the population.
Our next edition will continue to answer the question "Why do native Oregonians dislike Californians so much".
Oregonian Special Californication Issue February 12, 2045
As a part of our continuing story of the dislike of Californians by Oregonians, we went into the streets to find people who would comment on the reasons for their feelings.
The first person we talked to was Jeff, no last name given. He didn't want to talk about anti-Californian attitudes because he just got here from San Jose last week. A hostile crowd had gathered around mumbling about his "San Francisco Warriors" tee shirt.
Our next interviewee was Al Easton, age forty-two, who was born in Bend. He said "The Californians have driven up home prices and clogged traffic. They ruined our carefully cultivated and envied lifestyle. As soon as I retire, I'm out of Portland and back to Bend."
When asked if he had any connections to California, he admitted that he worked in Silicon Valley for twenty years before coming back to retire, but he spent at least a third of his life here, so his sojourn in California shouldn't be held against him.
Henry Jackson, a sixty-three-year-old janitor said "Those guys have no morals. There's all of that homosexuality, sex changes, and creepy reality shows. All of those Hollywood characters have been married at least three times." Mr. Jackson runs a string of strip clubs.
Millie Hawkins, age seventy-two and retired "They have all of those crazy ideas. It is a hotbed of vegetarianism. Earlier they had two female Jewish senators, if you can imagine that. They have all of those weird religions. I'm not happy about them taking over our state."
Our next attempt at an interview was terminated when the man we tried to talk to said "Listen, I've got a question for you. Why is your writing so crappy? You verb every noun you can. You use the latest and worst cliché you find. For some reason you append ‘community' to every group that you write about. You use the term ‘people of color' every chance that you get without having any idea what it means. Are YOU from California?" He was later identified as Doug Hawley, age unknown, a man who quit our Community Columnist venture after a feud with his editor. Mr. Hawley has been a persistent critic of the Oregonian.
A woman who wouldn't give her name just said "They look different" without giving any details.
Jason Atkins, a fifty-three-year-old bank executive gave us his take "A lot of our bums are from California. I think they are addicts as well. If we kept the Californians out, our streets would not have all of those strung out guys looking for handouts just to buy more drugs. You must know that the drugs in Oregon either originate in California or Mexico but come in through California."
Jean Weldon, age not given was wearing worn out jeans and a sweatshirt. She said "They don't know how to dress, or what to drink or eat. They have weird ideas about buying new clothes and drinking mass market beer and they buy food from the agricultural industrial complex."
We went to Jeff Alberton to get the academic community response. He is in the psycho-sociological relations community. His statement has been edited for clarity and brevity.
"The first thing that you should know is that people make up their minds and then find reasons for their decisions. That certainly applies to the stated reasons for why native Oregonians claim to dislike Californians. The real reasons are much different. Paramount is the feeling of inferiority. The Oregon territory used to include the states of Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana. As the various parts were taken away, Oregon was left with an inferior state with no good harbors and few people. Added to that, Washington got a boost from gold in the Klondike and a pioneer airline industry now known as Boeing. Later, Washington got more and better sports teams, better schools, Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft. Oregon got Nike, a company that imports shoes. As a result, Oregon feels inferior to Washington as well as California. British Columbia has surpassed Oregon as well."