The following are excerpts from a recent conversation with Lady California.
Tim Freund: “So Lady California, you’re looking a less than your usual sunny self. What can you tell my readers about your current health?”
Lady California: To quote one of the millions who have come to and thrived in our golden state, Mark Twain, “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” It is true that Covid-19 is devastating our state. No Doubt about it. The reality is, we are like our own nation here except that we are not able to stop people from other states from coming in like a true sovereignty would. As a result, our state is a magnet to the virus’ expansion. Furthermore, as the breadbasket, import-export hub and technological center of a nation of 330 million people, we could hardly do that to the rest of the other 49 states. If we ever did, the damage to those states would be catastrophic.
TF: Wow, when you put it that way… since this is a real estate and economic blog, let’s talk about what’s happening to real estate in California. (Search homes here) I mean you must be seeing a mass exodus of residents fleeing your over-taxed, over regulated and terribly expensive place, right?”
LC: Again, this is exaggeration. Yes, Elon Musk has said he’s making his home elsewhere and taking a fabulous native California business enterprise, in part with him. This should not come as a great surprise given, his company’s stock price has skyrocketed and he’s seeking someplace that will tax him less than I would. That said, don’t be surprised if you see him cruising around both ends of our state. Our climate is far more amenable than Texas.
TF: Well, it would seem that maybe the high state tax rate is contributing to he and others leaving the state, don’t you think?
LC: Yes, and all those tree hugging liberals, oh and don’t forget about the high homeless population. Look, there’s a reason such incredible enterprise can foster here. One big reason is our free and experimental thinking.
TF: The homeless problem is pretty intolerable right?
LC: The homeless issue really comes down to local land planning and NIMBY’s trying to hold on to what they perceive is theirs. I admit it is a dichotomy that in a place where new ideas and innovation thrive and prosper, those same elements conspire to keep things “As they were.” It’s a little like how we do so much outside our home, yet in many towns, don’t even know our neighbors, instead choosing to stay in our own four walls. As for our housing shortage, it’s really the lack of construction that is the true culprit.
TF: So why do people stay then?
LC: The great weather has something to do with it, don’t you think? But beyond that, the afore mentioned freedom of thought and the entrepreneurial spirit is a big part too. The ability to think and create without the limits of preconception. That freedom blossoms here like no other place on earth. That’s why people want to live here and why they stay here. People from all over the world dream of life in California and our immigrant population is one of the many catalysts of our success. Back to your earlier question, are people are selling and leaving? There’s always people coming and going when you are a state as large as California. But have you noticed that when one leaves there’s someone right behind them to buy that home, plant roots, start a new company? California is where dreams come true. Our history is the American Dream.
TF: But what about the high taxes?
LC: OK, so not to get too political, but since you’re bringing up taxes… if the Federal government gave California a share of the Federal tax revenue equal to our contribution, we would not have to tax our residents nearly as much. But when you are forced to carry and subsidize over half of the nation with your tax dollars, the money to serve our own population has to come from somewhere. It’s funny how easy some find it is to criticize California when their state is on the California dole.
TF: Ouch. So let me try and circle back a bit here. Regarding the housing situation, are you saying that people aren’t leaving the state en masse?
LC: That’s exactly what I’m saying. Take the Conejo Valley right there along the LA/Ventura border where you sell as an example. If more people were leaving, why is it that you are selling more homes than people are listing? I mean you would know better than I, what’s happening to your inventory?
TF: You’re right about that. We are selling more homes than are coming up for sale. (Contact Tim here) Our inventory is less than half of what it was a year ago, yet we are selling an above average number annually. I guess it’s like you said, as soon as one person leaves, there’s someone right there to buy their home and take their place.
LC: Ah-Ha! So, what you’re saying is that people are lining up to buy homes even though it’s being reported that people are rushing to leave California?
TF: Yeah, I guess I am. I suppose that’s one way to deal with population control, price people out and they leave… weird but OK…
LC: Look, the cost of living here is problematic, there’s no denying it, so we need to build more housing for people to live in. As for the people who leave their job and start over in Texas or Idaho, they can and should if it’s the right move for them, but for most, leaving is just not desirable despite the high cost of residency here. Were you aware that people in California live longer than any other state except Hawaii? Why do you suppose that is?
TF: If I had to guess, a healthy lifestyle? Healthier eating?
LC: That’s part of it. There’s also better health care here – you’ve heard of Covered California, I presume? But the biggest issue is the quality of life. The ability to surf in the morning and ski before sundown. When you are the farm of the nation, you get the best food. Have you tried the strawberries from Oxnard recently? This because the California farmer is the best! They have the best soil, best air and best sun – though climate change is certainly creating a host of new problems, especially with water. When you have lots of open space you get to go out and do things. When you have great job creation, people find work they enjoy doing and when you have tighter regulations, your water and air isn’t as poisoned as it is elsewhere. It used to be, but our determination to care for the planet and each other has changed that, though it’s always a work in progress. California is leading the country in solar and electric vehicles, emission control etc. Virtually every trend, be it environmental like conservation and preservation or physical like yoga, skateboarding or mountain biking, takes hold here first and that improves American life nationwide.
TF: OK, I’ll buy, but what do you see going forward?
LC: Once we get the virus more managed, we will boom. How many places can boast Universities like UCLA, CAL, UCSD or UCSB; Stanford, Cal Tech, Cal Poly and a state university and community college system that is the envy of the world? That educational opportunities in California are the backbone of our nation’s greatest innovation. Of course, people leave but nowhere would people rather live more than California when given the choice. That’s why so many companies start here, build here and thrive here.
TF: Well on that note, I wish to thank you and best of luck to you and the Golden State.
LC: Thanks for having me Tim, it’s been my pleasure.
All opinions expressed herein are of the guest and do not necessarily represent those of the author or The REC.