California’s Midlife Crisis

May 27, 2016 · 158 comments
Trudy (Pasadena, CA)
I've lived here all of my 52 years. It's too crowded and everyone is stressed and in a hurry. I hope to move to the wide open of northern NM in a decade or so. I need my space!
Russ Huebel (Kingsville, Tx.)
Illegal immigrants ruined California, and they will continue to ruin California. Since no one will stop them, the only choice is to run away.
Dean M. (Sacramento)
People are leaving? Has the Oregonian who wrote this piece done any time driving around in any of the cites mentioned?
Myac (Los Angeles)
Mr. Tobar implies that Latinos in California are homogeneous. I certainly don't agree with him regarding his views about "the real Los Angeles" being gray and beaten down. Los Angeles is diverse, vibrant, changing and growing all the time. A lot of us don't live in "barrios" any more, not because of gentrification, but because we want to be in diverse neighborhoods not saddled with a label. Not all of us are the stereotypical Dodger or Raider fans. Latinos also don't vote in one big block, although it is difficult to understand how a Latino could vote for a candidate of a party that would like to see all of us gone, no matter how we got here or that our families have been here for generations. The rest of our fellow Americans need to know more about who we really are, not what the media constantly portrays us as. We cannot all be painted with the same brush. Mr. Tobar's article also doesn't portray California in a very positive light. California has its problems, but I wouldn't trade it for any other state in this country.
rob (seattle)
Give me a break, California is off the charts beautiful with 1000s of miles of unspoiled coast, lovely mountains and a vast desert wilderness unchanged since the 50's to explore. Its diverse in a way that northern liberal bastions like New England and the Pacific North West, with their 85% white populations will never be. The differing groups are friendly and congenial and in hours you can go from Paradise Cove in Malibu to Joshua Tree and Pappy and Harriets. Thank you for writing this article.
Susan Miller (Pasadena)
If there is one thing that irritates me more than folks calling
the Democratic Party the Democrat Party, it's California being referred
to as Cali.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
The little old lady from Pasadena is a grammarian. I jest.
harrync (Hendersonville, NC)
Back in the 1930's, the state tried to limit immigration; something called the Constitution said they couldn't. California would be a much more livable place it that had been allowed. [Conflict of interest disclosure: my family arrived in California in the 1860's, so walling out immigrants in the 1930's would not have affected me.] Growing up in LA and Orange County (on an orange grove, no less - about three miles south of the orange groves that were to become Disneyland), in the 1940's and 50's, I became a bit spoiled, and don't think I could bear to live there now. For any others contemplating fleeing the state, check out western North Carolina. Yes, the state politics stink, but Asheville is an accepting town, has good food, and the weather is pretty nice.
PM (Los Angeles, CA)
Stop complaining about being in your car, get out of your car and into the Metro! The MTA of Los Angeles just opened new Metro stops (subway/light rail) at multiple locations, including new stops in Santa Monica! You can now take the subway/light rail right to the beach!

When you feel bad about living in the City of Angels, stop and admire the blue sky, palm trees, colorful bougainvillea and fragrant jasmine blooms. Think about the many people on this planet who have never seen the ocean. We are lucky to live in such a diverse city. Check out the Pinata district during the weekend for some delicious street food, walk around the Arts district, take a walk along the beach...appreciate that you live in a lovely city and take advantage of what it has to offer. Oh, and you can't deny that Los Angeles is Feelin' the Bern, Bernie stickers and posters are everywhere!
Steve Sheridan (Ecuador)
Californians, it's down to YOU.

Usually it's all over by the time California's primary happens.... Save us from Trump: dump Clinton (she can't defeat him)--vote Bernie!
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
Who will you be voting for in Ecuador, BTW?
MJL (SF Bay Area)
I live in California. This article does not describe my experience at all. Lived here for 25 years. Is there traffic here? You bet! But has anyone been to Atlanta lately? At least while I'm stuck in traffic I get to look at the SF Bay and The Golden Gate Bridge. People are free to leave. No one is forcing you to stay in Cali.....Oh and I find the mood in LA to be vibrant lately. Great food, young people making exciting art & fashion...the East side is revitalized. Egg Slut or really anything at Grand Central Market! I'll take it!
Happy Californian
Observer (Kochtopia)
Hey, you Californicated Oregon!

I do not trust any Californian who moves to Oregon. I have visited Oregon, and it is a gloomy place, both in weather and in attitude.

And as much as you Angelinos like to think it, LA does not equal California.
Jeffrey Siegel (Los Angeles, CA)
Really inaccurate and not reflecting the present mood. California is not a baby , but is smartly adjusting to middle age. Sure, there are problems, but I'd rather come up with answers here, as we are want to do, than anywhere else
Wayneasa (Pasadena, CA)
I've lived here since 1971. Never regretted it. Still the most diverse, beautiful state in the union.
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
Californians are an incredibly generous people. For decades we have been taking in millions of downtrodden from Mexico and Central America, providing them top notch medical care at hospitals like LA County +USC Medical Center, and educating their children, at the cost of billions of dollars a year. I view my state taxes as a form of charity, as the bulk of it goes to help these poor souls who are escaping horrible lives in their home countries. Califirnia is the first state to extend subsidized Obamacare to Illegal/undocumented residents, which makes sense, as we need to reduce contagious diseases brought from Latin America, including TB, measles and rubella.
Ocean Blue (Los Angeles)
Born and raised in Long Beach. Lived in Idaho and Vermont for 16 years, and couldn't wait to move back. California isn't perfect, but it's close. Bernie Sanders is not the groovy old guy driving a VW bus---he's a career politician who does not support Latinos or African-Americans, no matter what he says. He's funded by the Progressive Democrats of America, not little old ladies giving $27 each. They want to dismantle the Democratic Party---he's a Ralph Nader. California needs to realize that, in order to avoid Trump.

You didn't mention the disgraceful homeless population in the revitalized downtown. Shameful. Reminds me of NY in the 80s. Wish Bill Gates would stop spending money in Africa, and build permanent housing for them.

My hope is women in California wake up and realize Hillary is the ideal blend of pragmatism, common sense and help for children and women. She's not perfect, but women need to support women.
Matt (Seattle)
California and especially its coastal cities first need to accept the fact that people will always wants to move there. They could have the highest unemployment in the country, but it doesn't change its year-round warm weather and unbelievable scenery. Personally, I like LA and SF but I think they could be so much better. SF is easier to fix--this mantra of "if we just don't build it, then they'll stop coming" needs to be erased. The "character" they are trying to preserve by not building anything is having the complete opposite effect. They need to accept that their city will change and grow vertically to support the influx of newcomers and create affordable housing for those left behind. Silicon Valley needs to act in the same manner. LA--needs to start over from square 1 and I don't think it'll ever happen. All of the train lines and bikes lane on earth cannot save that city under its current design. They could be the greatest city in the world if they tore apart their freeway system, only leaving a bypass, and became more centralized. Obviously, it's so sprawling that they would probably need to create multiple urban centers and create rail and bike networks around them. Between the mountains, the ocean and flatness in between, LA could reinvent itself to be the most beautiful and "green" city on earth. I'm not at all hopeful this will happen, but I am confident that these changes would be the proper response to its "mid-life crisis."
Richard Chandler (Huntington Beach, California)
What a pointless piece, It is simply a hodge podge of nothing. I've lived in Southern California - and some of it in a graffiti laden barrio - for all of my 67 years. Never - not even once - have I seen graffiti on a palm tree.

Come on NY Times, surely there is better than this complete waste of time.
Invictus (Los Angeles)
Where can I get a 'Viva Bernie' shirt?
wbj (ncal)
If you want the 1970's California, move away from the coast.
Elizabeth Zima (Calistoga)
As far as I am concerned, California is still an ideal Republicans and no Christians, what American could ask for more?
Paul (Long island)
California has bequeathed the nation our first unstable modern President, Richard Nixon, and then the conservative god, St. Ronald Reagan, who has impoverished us all with his legacy of "voodoo," "trickle-down" economics. I only hope that they move quickly beyond their "midlife crisis" before the June 7 primary and provide a landslide victory to Bernie Sanders to demonstrate that we need a true progressive populist and not another Tweet-cake, false prophet in un-Reality TV, big-mouth, and Nixonian Narcissist, Donald Trump. I may be "California dreaming," but the alternative is another "national nightmare."
Thomas Wright (Los Angeles)
"Once or twice in our youth some of us rioted, and some voted for initiatives against immigrants and gay marriage."

Um, that last one was a few years ago? Letting reality slip away a little here at the expense of waxing lyrical. A fun read all the same.
G. Michael Paine (Marysville, Calif.)
The writer lives in Oregon? Hmmmmm!
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
the three most densely populated metro areas in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose
San Jose is not at all like the other two, since we are have virginal valley hillsides that stretch for many miles that are protected Open Space preserves, from Stanford Univ. south to Gilroy (Santa Cruz mountains), and the San Jose East Hills from Milpitas south to Gilroy. California's 1st state park and silver mine is Alum Rock S.P., and 1 of the largest parks in America is Joseph Grant S.P. We even have orchards, wineries, and fruit-packing operations (Mariani, e.g.) right in San Jose.
The population density is across the Valley floor, with vast open spaces with wild pig, mountain lions, bears, bobcat, deer, and fishing lakes just minutes and a few miles away on either side of the Valley, and south to Gilroy, which is booming.
L.A. and San Francisco are no different than Philly and NYC, except for the weather, and strive to emulate their putatively urbane Eastern brethren as "city folk."
Robin LA (Los Angeles,CA.)
California can be a delightful and comfortable place to live. The weather, the healthcare infrastructure, the cloistered communities and powerful state presence lure the 9% many of whom are wealthy retirees living on comfortable investment returns. When the stock market trembles, every Starbucks in the state seems to attract clusters of grumbling retirees lamenting their impacted portfolios.
In the State of California, the sun glints off the mythical surface seldom reaching the distressed penumbra.
J.G. (L.A.)
Wow, this meandering op-ed is poorly written!
Lou Good (Page, AZ)
Yes, the one thing Angelinos have done for years is feel sorry for themselves despite the fact they cause 100% of their own problems.

Go to the Grand Canyon... and breathe that LA air, since half the time you can't even see across it due to the seasonal drift of their foul smog.

And if they move, they bring all of it with them despite their stated desire to get away from it. "Where can I get a latte and who is the best plastic surgeon in the area?"

Where I live, we have a saying, "Thank God for the Mormons, they keep the Californians OUT!" Amen.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
126 degrees, but it's a dry heat, right? Mormons like that.
Thomas Wright (Los Angeles)
I would say vice-versa if not for the 'Los Angeles California Temple', a typically over the top mormonic affair, sticking out into vistas for miles around. That aside, much like 'the London Fog', I find the LA smog to be much overhyped, from an age when heavy particle pollutants were a free-for-all in vehicle emissions.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
San Diego and Oakland have the same massive Mormon Temples, thomas. I'm sure their "stake" [read: parish] in Oakland gets quite a workout....
Barbyr (Northern Illinois)
"Relax," said the nightman. . .
OneView (Boston)
I always cringe a the natural western attitude that the world is in perpetual decay when the evidence in front of your eyes might seem to contradict your constructed reality.

WHY are housing costs going up in California? Because people want to live there! And if the costs are going up, someone is willing to PAY those costs! It's far more terrifying when housing prices are going DOWN (let's all move to Detroit!)

We'd all like to live in the best places and when we'd all like to live somewhere, demand will exceed supply and prices will rise. You can live really cheaply in rural Idaho, but, apparently, not that many people want to...
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
You can live as cheaply in 75% of California as anywhere else, esp. from Mendocino County to Oregon, and east to Susanville, 1000s of square miles of pristine forests, rivers, an active volcano, huge beaches, Bigfoot encounters, and America's tallest peaks, in the aggregate, in the Trinity Mountain range. Plus, marijuana becomes recreational here in November, so you can enjoy all of the above while nicely stoned in Humboldt, Shasta, Trinity, and Del Norte counties.
common sense (Seattle)
Seattle is having a new crisis - one that California started 40 years ago. Seattle is doomed to repeat the Californication problems, except Seattle thinks a war on cars is a positive thing.

Matt (Seattle)
Not true at all. Seattle is doing the complete opposite of California. We are building and planning for growth. There is no "war on cars" and there never has been. There is only a war on common sense planning that gives people alternative, cheaper and more efficient ways to get around than just an automobile. Go move to Atlanta or Houston if you don't like what is happening here.
Rodrian Roadeye (Pottsville,PA)
Too bad Latinos didn't stay put and allow our Right-wingers into their own country to take advantage of their cheap labor and resources. Patience is a virtue and sooner or later they'll get around to all their countries. Then they can Nationalize like Venezuela and kick them out. Or will they try that here instead sooner or later?
Steve (california)
I have lived in California my entire life, 65 years. I've seen most of the US and much of the world. I would not want to live anywhere else.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
I second that emotion.
G. (Brooklyn, NY)
You lost me on "hipsterati gentrification scourge of the present day." You mean the economic activity of innovative newcomers and long-time residents who are transforming blighted, crime-ridden communities into vibrant, walkable, urban neighborhoods?

This writer commits the central fallacy of "observational" writing - and mistakes his own midlife crisis for that of the city around him.

As a transplant from NYC to LA, I see challenges ahead for sure. But I also see promise, growth and opportunity around every corner in today's Los Angeles.
ar gydansh (Los Angeles)
To all you whiney folk in Los Angeles bothered by change,
Please, feel free to leave.
I will toast your exodus while at the beach, in December, wearing shorts.
I will think of you in February while I am riding my motorcycle,
And again in August, sitting outside with a drink.
I will laugh at the news of your idiotic politicians driving your state into the ground with spending cuts,
And your new states adoption of textbooks denying slavery.
I will marvel at your closed primaries and efforts at preventing "voter fraud."
And laugh at the lawsuits protecting little girls from transgender people in bathrooms.
I will be bitter though.
Bitter that your adopted states cannot support themselves and must rely on my state to pay for their failed financial and social policies.
So, lets raise a toast to Greener Grass Somewhere Else (for you)
lloydmi (florida)
California used to have a messy thing called democracy.

There were office holders from both parties running things and checking each other.

This problem has now been solved thanks to control by richly rewarded government unions that have advanced California into a feudalistic state to a for the Democrats, who don't complain and never investigate and no longer have to even pretend to debate their election opponents.

All is well!

control the state
Mike S. (Monterey, CA)
Odd, I never knew it is the unions that create the gerrymandered voting districts. Here I thought it was the political parties. Silly me!
ZZZ (Chicken Lips, USA)
That is the fault of the Republicans, who went off the deep end. You could always move to Texas.
Observer (Kochtopia)
The California Republican Party withered under it's own steam, thank you very much.

I always smirk at conservatives blaming government unions as they gleefully gut all other kinds of unions, thus creating the bankrupt, sick and angry "white working class men" they then exploit with their "southern strategy" of blaming everyone but the bosses.

California Republicans started sliding into oblivion with the attempt to marginalize Spanish-speaking immigrants, forgetting how Spanish California has always been. After all, "los angeles" is Spanish, as are "San Francisco" and "San Diego" and "San Jose."

But as well as Spanish heritage, Californians overall are just more open-minded an tolerant than people almost anywhere else in the US of A. Too bad the Rs couldn't stay that way, too.
David (California)
The three most densely populated metro areas? I don't think so. NY is by far no 1. As a state California is not even in the top 10.
Mike S. (Monterey, CA)
By area, most of California is more like Nevada than like LA--empty, quiet, only we have way more trees than Nevada.
R.P. (Whitehouse, NJ)
Another day, another op-ed piece in the Times where someone describes Trump as xenophobic because of his stance on illegal immigration. Xenophobia, which used to be a serious term, is apparently now defined as opposing anything other than open borders. And of course Trump is described as bigoted, with no factual support. The author says Trump wants to usher us into a "whiter time." What does that even mean? The civil rights battle was fought 50 years ago; actual racial bias is now so absent that you're considered bigoted if you are against open borders or gay marriage. Of course, before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, California voted it down - as a result of black people coming out in droves to vote against it. But let's not mention such nuanced facts; easier to continue to spout nonsense about how those who disagree with you politically are all racists.
Phil Dauber (Alameda, California)
"Actual racial bias is now so absent" ??? How about some "factual support" for that piece of nonsense. What we see clearly here is that Drumpf's supporters are irrational and untethered from reality.
Rationality2016 (Santa Monica, CA)
“As California goes, so goes the nation.”
Ladyrantsalot (Illinois)
I was born and lived in California (mostly LA) from 1957 to 1992. It is a beautiful place filled with a lot of innovation and creativity. Two things that really made the place great: 1. they taxed themselves and created the greatest state university system on earth. The UC system, and Berkeley and UCLA in particular, are the envy of the world. 2. Drivers always stopped for pedestrians as long as they were at an intersection. Police did not have to enforce this, it was an inherent cultural vibe. Visitors would gawk in wonder as the cars parted like the sea and the chosen people crossed to safety. Both of these essentially Californian cultural triumphs are beginning to fray. They were a product of an optimistic and social-minded people (both Republican and Democrat) who were untethered from the elitism of the East Coast and knew they were building something better. If Californians can recapture that spirit, they will be just fine (yes, yes, I know there is not enough water).
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
The UC system, and Berkeley and UCLA in particular, are the envy of the world.
And to enjoy such envied campuses, Jerry Brown & Co, raised the UC tuition* by 25% in just..... 5 years, now in effect. Causing widespread protests on campus, but that changed nothing, of course. Luckily, my daughter graduated from Berserkley before the extortion took effect.
* Calif. Constitution guarantees "free college." CA Democrats call it "fees" and "surcharges" to avoid the word "tuition." Like they do with everything -- euphemisms to hide the actuality.
Beatrice ('Sconset)
I love the picture of "Bernie" driving me to Big Sur in that Volkswagen bus.
I'd rather walk than ride with "that chauffeur who shall not be named".
Rigsby Da Dragon (Mars)
California is a cesspool of categories of demographics (ethnicity, unions, farmers etc) that are robbing the state clean through their lobbying. Nothing left for working people but paying state taxes and then watch it distributed to those who yell the loudest.
Observer (Kochtopia)
Unlike ... ?
Amy D. (Los Angeles)
It is a daily challenge contending with the sheer numbers of people in SoCal. But what is worse is the increasing lack of civility, especially with drivers. Stop signs are optional. Red lights are just another color and the idea of stopping for pedestrians, well just look at our hit and run stats. But these things can and should always be taught so I have hope. What I will never find anywhere else is the fact that I am an hour's drive (or less) away from the beach, the mountains, the desert and some of the most gorgeous scenery around. All in perpetual sunshine.
Peg (AZ)
The problem is that people too often have no time to enjoy them working to afford the cost of housing or can't get to these places due to the traffic. So an hour away? Only if you drive between 10 and 11 AM or after dark.
Peg (AZ)
Then if you can get there - good luck parking - you may have to turn around and go home.
Amy D. (Los Angeles)
LA has and continues to improve and expand its rail system in and out of the city. And yes, while the traffic can be awful for commuters to work, going to any of the places mentioned is doable within an hour especially on weekend. As in any big city, land is at a premium. So regarding parking you have to be willing to pay, if you are looking to park for free in any large American city, good luck with that.
Andrew Pierovich (Bronxville, NY)
Lived in SoCal over 50 years until moving to Westchester 4 years ago. What surprises me is that even though the east coast began being settled over 400 years ago and the west coast only about 150 years ago, the east seems to be much better planned. Example: Parkways without trucks. In CA every highway is like the 95. CA is a victim of its own virtues, sunny mild weather, great colleges, and any occupation you can think of. Despite the traffic congestion, air pollution, frequent wild fires, gangs, and lack of open space people will continue to come.
Expect 100 million population in our lifetime.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
Example: Parkways without trucks. In CA every highway is like the 95.
Wrong. Several highways and freeways (85, 280, e.g.) in the Bay Area forbid big rigs, or trucks with more than 3 axles, etc., either totally or in part.
Of course the horror show called SoCal is another story entirely...
gershon hepner (los angeles)

City without any flowing river,
California's Los Angeles,
sadly will stay Gangesless
until she finds a method to deliver
a waterbaby. There is no midwife
can do this for her in the crisis
at which she stares, stare decisis
preventing this improvement in midlife.

[email protected]
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
Should we start dumping cadavers in the LA River to make it Ganges-like?
Helena (New Jersey)
I grew up in California in the 1960's and 70's. On smog alert days, I remember taking a deep breath and feeling pain in my chest. The nearby mountains were invisible from the brown haze. Traffic wasn't as bad back then and a trip to the beach only took an hour. I periodically return to California from the East Coast to visit family. I'm stunned by how clear the air is, and I can actually see the mountains. But the traffic is absolutely horrific. Eight lane freeways are essentially parking lots and trying to drive 10 miles can take over an hour. I can understand how Californians are stressed out. I can't imagine navigating the traffic everyday and am grateful for the train and subway systems on the East Coast.
JDC in Long Beach (California)
I HOPE we won't be as self-destructive as to vote for Bernie the barker! He's too old!
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
He's almost as old as Jerry Brown.
Beckett00 (Los Angeles)
I seriously don't know what to make of this article. I've lived in LA for the last 24 years, and, with all its shortcomings, it's the best I've seen it. More vibrant, more edgy, and more progressive than at any other time I can remember.
Hans Christian Brando (Los Angeles)
Overpriced, overcrowded, and thirsty (the much touted El Nino winter replenished a few reservoirs to near-normal levels but in terms of breaking a four-year drought was, as they say, rather a wash), "California dreaming" has become in many regards a nightmare. Rents have doubled, even tripled, in the last 25 years (NYC housing is a bargain compared to San Francisco) and so have commute times. The proposed bullet train keeps getting slower and more expensive. Even worse, the major cities are losing their personality, their histories being paved over with wider freeways and pricey condo complexes obscuring the view for residents of the McMansions which in turn obliterate the hillsides. One might say at least there's the climate, but we know that's subject to change.

There is still, we must admit, that special California sense of humor that allows Disneyland to refer to itself earnestly as a resort, which it resembles only in price. And Justin Bieber just rented a house in Toluca Lake for $80,000 a month.
Jessie P (Burbank CA)
What a lame article. Why would the NYT publish this? It says nothing. It is entirely subjective. California, in fact, is doing better than many, MANY states.
donald surr (Pennsylvania)
Except for the palm trees, this sounds like parts of Pennsylvania.
barb tennant (seattle)
Didn't the voters of Cali elect Arnold?
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
The next time you visit the NYT web site, check its archives to find out.
Nicholas Burns III (Los Angeles, CA)
I don’t know which LA you’re writing about, but the one my wife and I moved to at the end of 2014 is great. Great food and entertainment, stunning landscapes (and year-round beach time!), ethnic diversity, and billions of dollars of public transit infrastructure investment underway.

Yes traffic sucks, but it sucks in NY, DC, Boston, Atlanta, and SF too, so what’re you going to do? At least LA is investing in public transit (the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica just opened on Monday, I can’t believe that didn’t get a shout out in your piece!).

I agree that housing affordability is far and away the most important issue facing Californians, but other than bashing hipsters you didn’t offer any solutions. You could have mentioned that sky-high property prices are the result of anti-growth, anti-density regulations that prevent multi-family housing from being built in areas zoned for single-family residences (same story up in the Bay Area). Say what you want about “hipsters,” but it all comes down to supply and demand, and until the people of CA demand more liberal development policies, 3bd/2br homes are going to continue to sell for $1.2 million throughout the city.
karen (benicia)
I think Hector wrote this article to dissuade anyone from moving to overly crowded CA and if he succeeds, I will be grateful. Because other than the traffic, there is no more beautiful place to live. Perfect weather, with sunny & clear skies (thanks to hyper regulation of the many oil refineries and our superior gasoline). An endless variety of scenery-- ocean, redwood forests, mountains, amazing lakes, oak studded hills. A huge variety of industry and the arts-- Silicon Valley, the movies, championship sports teams, fantastic universities, and yes, still some manufacturing. Communities bursting with open space and civic amenities, available for all to enjoy. Our diversity is of course both a draw and a negative. Gays have been free to live their lives freely; our many immigrants have led to great food and a chance to learn about other cultures. But Californians have been cheated by massive immigration: high tech clamoring for H1B1s instead of hiring and if need be training Americans; GOP capitalists putting out the welcome mat for illegal Mexicans instead of hiring our own people; Chinese nationals being allowed to buy whole swaths of communities, with no intent to actually live and contribute to them. But that is a federal issue, we just have paid the price. But still... Texas? South Carolina? Not for me, not ever. But I hope lots of my fellow Californians WILL try these places, leaving perhaps a bit more space for ME.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
Be careful you don't get shot on I-80 or Freeway 4, Karen. Over 20 shootings in the past month on those roads near you, with 4 dead, including a young mother of 3. I won't mention Vallejo, right behind Richmond and Oakland for violent crime rates. Donald Trump is right.
FSMLives! (NYC)
".... Young Latino families have started moving away, founding new barrios...North Carolina and Georgia..."

And that's a good thing?

Barrio (def): The Spanish-speaking quarter of a town or city, especially one with a high poverty level.
Caroline (Burbank)
I live in Hector's barrio/hipster neighborhood, I think. (I recognize the condition of the highway built in 1940, too.) After 10 years in Southern California, and after visiting elsewhere in this great country (no irony intended), I am so happy to return to a city where various ethnicities and cultures surround me. P.S. Viva Bernie!
Hans Christian Brando (Los Angeles)
Oh, and one other thing. Seismologists warn us that we're overdue for the next Big One. But of course that's San Andreas' fault.
Observer (Kochtopia)
oh, OUCH!
JLC (Modesto)
Hey Hector, chill! Put on some Los Lobos and crack open a cold one dude...
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
How will the wolf survive?
Adrian Covert (San Francisco)
California tops the U.S. in diversity, weather, natural beauty and food, and it's not even close. I love traveling and seeing other parts of the country, but whenever I return home to San Francisco, I feel like the luckiest man alive. Mr. Tobar is from Southern California, however, and that's another animal. Los Angeles is a tale how not to build a city: sprawling, car-centric and without a sense of place. When the stereotypical interaction between denizens occurs at a four-way stop, the well of isolation, dislocation and general malaise will run deep. California's biggest problem is that local land use regulations discourage housing construction, creating an astonishing imbalance between the supply and demand of housing that has priced an entire generation out of homes while making established Baby Boomers rich. Even worse, when housing does get built, these same regulations only encourage more low-density sprawl. California needs to preserve its remaining open spaces and build up. But that will require tweaking state environmental rules and local zoning ordinances, which our politicians refuse to touch.
Charles (San Jose, Calif.)
L.A. is "77 suburbs in search of a city," some Gertrude Stein-type said, which Wm. Faulkner or Nathaniel West might find apt.
Joni Mitchell was more succinct: "They paved paradise and put in a parking lot."
Lost Angeles, where they don't trust air they can't see.
siege91 (Berkeley, Ca.)
Pretty dark take on CA from a dude who lives in Oregon. I'm sorry you have to deal with winter now. Maybe this lamentation helps you deal with the vitamin D shortage.
allentown (Allentown, PA)
Don't decry gentrification, hipsters, and the dot.commers. When industries die, what communities need most are fresh jobs and money. Living in a city which saw all of its major industrial employers leave or fold, saw its tax base decline, saw housing prices decline and then stagnate, saw its schools starved for resources, and sees whole swathes of the city getting by on pension checks and social security, I can tell you there are far worse things than gentrification, rising home prices, hipsters, and young, well-paid dot.commers. Change happens wherever you live. The iconic buildings and the infrastructure become old. When we visit Europe we see old buildings as delightful. You want the bright, shiny, new. There is character in age, both for buildings and for people.
FrankK (Menlo Park, CA)
The author might have noted another fact about California which may shift an underlying dynamic for the future. The last census showed, for the first time since the nineteenth century, that a majority of residents were actually born in California. That bodes for a stronger sense of community and tradition, a complement to the "middle age" effects of valuing past experience and a propensity for stability.
James (Washington, DC)
"Once or twice in our youth some of us rioted, and some voted for initiatives against immigrants and gay marriage. As stressed out as we Californians are, we won’t be doing anything that self-destructive this election year."

What, you don't read the newspapers or ever leave home? Your Lefties are regularly rioting, throwing rocks and bottles (Molotov cocktails next!) and generally behaving like, well, Leftists always do when they have no response to their totalitarian ideas being challenged. Trump, who stands for personal responsibility (albeit somewhat inarticulately), drives redistributionist Lefties crazy.
Jan Larsen (Copenhagen)
Great article but the author perhaps assumes too much about how latino voters will actually vote come November! I think many will be surprised!
c2396 (SF Bay Area)
From the article: "We Angelenos are reminded of this when we drive down roads that have been repaved and retrofitted for a half-century or longer."

I think there's a "not" missing in that sentence, between the words "have" and "been."

Get on it, folks. No need to publish this comment.
Richard (Ollerer)
I recently lived in LA for five years, so I see what this writer is talking about, but he lacks dexterity. For one, all big cities struggle with some of these problems: infrastructure, for example, is expensive and a patin to maintain in New York, Chicago, and Detroit too. I actually found that a problem among Angelenos was a tendency to think they're somehow very unique in many ways that they aren't. The author does his part to prove that.

He also says Trump promises to return to a "whiter" time, when actually the main immigrants he has targeted--Muslims (presumably Arabs or Persians) and Hispanics--would technically be considered white in the US Census. He hasn't targeted (non-white) East Asian or South Asian or African immigrants, to my knowledge. In brief, the author's point here is a gross over-simplification.

Bernie Sanders may label himself a democratic socialist, but he isn't one. A true socialist, for instance, would propose nationalizing the big banks, not breaking them up. Sure Bernie has proposed single-payer healthcare, but that's nothing out of the ordinary for the developed world. Eisenhower commissioned the interstate highway system but does that make him a communist? We all share highways, after all...

Furthermore, not only is it irrelevant, for instance, that Schwarzenegger was an actor and that Bernie has white hair and that Trump is an entertainer, it's also an ad hominem fallacy. This may not be a doctoral dissertation but c'mon.
Arnold Hansen (Los Angeles)
This is also my home town. I was born here, grew up here, am growing old here. I know this town. To all of those who don't know L.A. well or have never been here I say: This piece is pure nonsense. Who or what is he talking about?
That Happened (Rural Virginia)
To me, LA is a suburb in search of a city. CA long ago squandered Eden in sacrifice to unfettered individualism, defined primarily by a mediocre midcentury fantasy of a suburban house on a lot and a personal car to transport you from here to nowhere. It is a city primarily defined by asphalt: endless freeways, six lane boulevards, parking lots: an asphalt desert, all of it now crumbling away. The buildings at the edges of all that pavement seem random, incidental, and under scaled. To paraphrase Ms. Stein, there is no there there. I've always wondered what percentage of LA land is devoted to pavement reserved for the movement and storage of cars. But at least LA votes Democratic. So in old age, there's hope!
Larry (Fallbrook, CA)
The author cites the median age of 35 in California as evidence of an aging culture. Calling it the cusp of middle age. I note that California has the sixth lowest median age of the 50 states. And since the median age for marriage by men in the US is 29 it does not seem to be the cusp of middle age.
Jomo (San Francisco)
What an exceptionally irritating piece, clearly more about the author than his subject.
Dante Alighieri (SF Bay Area)
One part of it is that the horizontal suburban-style development that California pioneered is a financial dead-end:

So in a very real sense, our infrastructure is crumbling at the exact time we have to pay out those juicy public pensions. Even without those generous benefits, the math simply doesn't work.
Joel Gardner (Cherry Hill, NJ)
As Carey McWilliams so notably pointed out in the middle of the last century, Southern California has never been the same as its image. Overdevelopment, plutocracy, the police Red Squad--it was never Disneyland. Still, living as I now do in corrupt Southern New Jersey, how could I not prefer to believe that somewhere there's a blue state of my dreams? California's ultimate paradox is that it's collapsing because everyone wamts to live there and is willing to pay to do so.
bill t (Va)
California has suffered and invasion without realizing it or not believing it while it was happening. It has become part of Mexico. The false prophets of the "richness of diversity" have claimed another victim. There can only be one culture, and that in California is Mexican. Where will the poor, downtrodden flee to now?
Rick (Summit)
People have been writing off California as past its prime for 80 years. Your Jeremiad is similar to Nathanael West's 1939 novel The Day of the Locust. California isn't the paradise of songs and movies, but it never was. I'm sure the state will endure no matter whom is elected president. California older and wiser, it's pretty to think so.
Dave (Auburn, NY)
Hector, thank you for your very well-written piece. I am a So-Cal ex-pat, who left an apartment in LA for grad school at Syracuse University, 40 years ago. Central New York State has been my home ever since. Despite the traffic and the smog, I treasure fond memories of LA: The cultural diversity - Chinatown and Little Tokyo ( that was before the Koreans arrived ), and the wonderful Hispanic community, where I had many friends. I'll be 75 this summer. But I am rooting for all you 35-year-olds!
newell mccarty (oklahoma)
Bernie Sanders was never a 60's "tie-died" hippie anymore than President Obama was a Muslim. But there is nothing wrong with either one. Quite the opposite. The media's perspective aside, the "tie-died" that I knew were against a racist war based on greed and fear, valued civil rights for African Americans, Native Americans and Women, environmentalism, organic food and critical of an empty-overcompetitive-celebrity culture void of community .....maybe more people should have listened. It seems more are listening now.
mwr (ny)
LA is the city that New Yorkers love to hate. It's so ingrained, Sex and the City ran a few episodes on the phenomenon. When LA lifted the water use restrictions and declared that the city was not going to be rendered uninhabitable, New Yorkers' disappointment was palpable. So, when the a Times find an Angeleno who both (a) thinks LA is descending into anarchy; and (b) can write, they publish. But this piece, like others before it, is running a NY script, despite the authentic credentials of its author. There will be more like it; it's sport, but the fact is, LA is a densely populated, modern, fantastically diverse and dynamic city-state that feels more like a Pacific Rim future than a Eurocentric past. In stark contrast to New York. Not to mention it's got sun, mountains, beaches and better burgers than New York. I'll take it.
diekunstderfuge (Menlo Park, CA)
Speak for yourself, Mr. Tobar. California remains far and away one of the most forward-looking states in the country. Like the other states that keep company with Ca in this regard, we lean heavily Democratic—when a Republican does manage to get into office we generally realize our mistake and move on.

California's greatest challenge is climate change. We need fewer days of searing heat and water, water, water. (I can't be the only one to think that we should invest in infrastructure to carry excess floodwaters from the South to CA. Two birds, one stone.)

Yes, we have the problems you describe. But California should never shy from its place as a leader. We should demand that we not be relegated to the caboose end of election cycles. And we should invest in so much infrastructure that the benefits speak for themselves. All we need to do is summon the courage to make it happen—and to wrest the funding from the hands of the miserly interests that hoard it.

Middle age is what you make of it—mind over matter, as they say.
Tam (VA)
This is the result of unfettered illegal immigration. We, in the rest of the county, don't want to experience the same fatigue that you are. Whatever is the problem, please fix it. Keep your people there. We don't want them coming to our states, causing our cost of living to rise (especially in housing), overwhelming our streets, making everything overcrowded. Do what you need to do to keep your people THERE. Thanks
davej (dc)
outside of the beach and pockets LA was pretty gray and ugly. probably worse with the drought.
Joaquin Lopez (Washington DC)
The other day I had a chat with an old friend and we reminisced about the glory days of Los Angeles. We were undergraduates at UCLA in the mid 90s and recalled the times where we would break away from the campus, jump on the Santa Monica Blue bus and be down at Venice Beach in minutes.

During exams week, we would race over to East LA for carne asada burritos with that unbeatable red sauce at King Taco. Those days, LA was our playground. And as long as you observed some basic traffic patterns, navigating the city was manageable.

Today, he's moved out of LA to avoid the choking congestion of the West side and I have left the state altogether - settling for "blue-capped" status in one of those "other" ballparks. Thirteen years later it's impossible to see CA as that youthful state with boundless energy and optimism. The cracks are there - unchecked density levels has reduced most urban areas to parking lots. As the article rightly points out, we've never been good at the politics thing.

But I disagree that Californians are as obnoxious as New Yorkers (a drivers license does not make you belligerent). However we are just as resilient - creative too. We know that CA is as much a place as it as a state of mind - we will preserve that no matter where we go. Viva Dodgers!
Paul (Califiornia)
The average Californian has no clue what is happening in the state capitol. Many still don't even know where it is. They focus on the Presidential race and national politics while state politicians run the place into the ground with giveaways to public employees unions, lawyers, and corporations. Millions of us sit in traffic because "there is no money" to build public transit or new roads, but there is always more money for environmental studies and somehow all the housing developments still get built.

Like any one-party state, California is corrupt and inefficient. If the average Democrat spent a day at a hearing in the Assembly or Senate, they would realize they have been suckered by politicians who speak in platitudes about liberal values and then spend their careers padding their pockets and those of their contributors.
William Case (Texas)
The U.S. Census Bureau now publishes an annual poverty report titled the Supplemental Poverty Measure that takes regional cost of living into account. The report is changing perceptions regarding which states are rich and which are poor. It shows that California is by far the poorest state, with 23.8 percent of its residents below poverty level.
Zenster (Manhattan)
There are simply too many people on the planet for any semblance of a relaxed "California Dreamin" lifestyle anymore. California in the 40's and 50's was probably the apex of the enjoyment of human life. Now we are hot flat and crowded and it is only going to get worse. We can pretend Trump or Bernie can fix things but that is never going to happen. Our only hope is to simply learn to deal with this new reality and hope we don't kill off every other form of life on the planet by our sheer numbers.
caljn (los angeles)
Everyone, not just Angeleno's, is stressed out. Makes we wonder what is the point of this op-ed?
Murray Kenney (Ross, CA)
The jobs are in one place (coastal cities and suburbs) and the housing is in another (inland Empire, Central Valley). To put the housing next to the jobs, CA would have to change its whole planning model to be more like the Northeast, and nobody wants that. So instead we have clogged freeways.
Gerald Forbes (Puerto Rico)
California use to lead the nation in everything: movies, lifestyle, technical genius and where the whites still outnumbered the darks. Something happened; an influx of Asians, Hispanics and drifters looking for the good life. Now people are deserting California for Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico where there is breathing room and you're safe from your gun toting neighbor. Personally I would never go back to the Golden State. The gold has turned into fools gold.
EvelynU (<br/>)
An influx of people = people are deserting the state? Or don't you consider Asians and Hispanics to be "people."
Carey (San Diego)
I couldn't disagree more. In contrast with most parts of the country, we have a vibrant economy and a state government that's banking our surplus while enacting progressive policies on the environment, LGBTQ issues and much more. Given the shocking ignorance of about 45% of the country, we feel incredibly lucky to live in this oasis of sanity.
grmadragon (NY)
I love my retirement home, near my children in rural NY state, but I miss my lifetime home in California. My home here is valued the same as the one there, but the taxes here are 3X higher. In my village, you can buy a nice comfortable house for $89,000. Which a working person could afford. However, the property taxes would run about $300 a month on top of your mortgage payment and that shuts out average working people. On top of that, the heating bill will be above $400 a month during the coldest part of snow season. However, if you can afford it, the sights and scents of this rural area spectacular.
Tom Madeo (San Clemente, Ca)
The writer sounds like he is projecting his feelings about getting older on everything around him.
Blue state (Here)
What a whiner. Do you think the rest of the country is not also neglected, bordering on 3rd world? Just because the 3 candidates are more NY than LA is no reason to cry in your beer.
hb freddie (Huntington Beach, CA)
A warning for the rest of the nation..
California has the highest tax rates, the most extreme environmental rules and - what a coincidence! - the highest poverty rate.
EvelynU (<br/>)
False. California does NOT have the highest poverty rate. There are 17 states that are worse, most of them red states. Deal with reality.
LG Phillips (California)
??? The poverty rate in California is much lower than it is in Texas, which has no income tax and lax environmental protections.

It's the rents and home prices which are killingly high in California, yet property tax rates are very low compared with other states. And it's the market which sets those prices, wouldn't chaknow.
Barrbara (Los Angeles)
A commentary from someone who lives in Oregon!!! 35 is old?? And all these "old" people are having children. Age is a state of mind. Old in Oregon.
JBK007 (Boston)
You forgot to mention how the superficiality and plasticity of Californians, notably Hollywood, has spread like a cancer through the rest of the country. The fact that you just rolled back water restrictions in Cali doesn't bode well for your future. Add for your mid-life crisis, just go out to get a nip and tuck, buy a new sportscar and live for the moment, it's the California way!
ljmb (Los Angeles)
Having recently moved from LA to suburban NJ for family reasons, I can say that the problems of California pale compared with those "back east" (except for water...there's a lot of that here, and it's quite beautiful). Roads that have been paved and repaired for 50 years are light years better than those paved and repaved for 100. And the thought of Manhattan being "relaxing" is a joke. If the incessant noise and dirt and crowds don't stress you, the lack of nature might. No place is perfect, but under Governor Brown and even Mayor Garcetti, I found that California and LA were at least thinking about the future. Current plans may not bear fruit and no doubt some will be mistakes, but at least California is trying. A bigger fear is that it will follow in the footsteps of its older, East Coast cousins and continue to allow the overbuilding of high priced housing that further excludes the very people whose dreams have driven California since time immemorial. Mid-city and downtown LA (and many other places) can only benefit from the infill building of moderately priced housing and the availability of new options for public transit. For all its issues, no one asked "why" when I left NYC for LA many years ago...and everyone (including people in NJ) asks that about leaving California to return east. California still commands the imagination with its improbable beauty and dynamic culture in a way that no where else does.
Tom (Charleston SC)
I lived in California for nearly 40 years, most of it in the Bay Area and the last eight years in Los Angeles. There is a lot to like. However, the over five final years, the neighborhood I lived in changed beyond recognition. The families moved out and were replaced by noisy singles bringing five cars to one apartment. The historic studio at the end of the block changed hands and became an underground night club. The city wouldn't do anything because the owner was well connected politically. Several homeless encampments developed nearby populated by active drug addicts who harrassed passers by including school children. The final insult was the two hour drive at midday to see my doctor at UCLA. It regularly took an hour and a half to visit my friend who lived 28 miles away. I had significant contact with elected officials in Los Angeles. It became apparent that people like me (self supporting older person) had no place in the political structure. We were not valued at all.

I left and while I miss some friends, I find that I don't miss the place at all. In short, urban California is no longer worth the effort, stress and expense.
Charles Kahlenberg (Richland, WA)
Indeed. We left for many of the same reasons. and don't miss anything but some of our friends...who have either also left, or are planning to...or should...
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
One crystal clear memory I have of my life in Los Angeles (I lived in both the Bay Area and LA for a while in my 20s)....I had a day off, and I headed out on the freeway towards Pasadena. It was a glorious summer day, just perfect balmy weather....sun shining, of course. I had the windows open, and some great music on the car radio, and my hair was blowing in the wind, as I sailed down the freeway entrance ramp....into 8 solid lanes of gridlock. It was midday, not rush hour. And the freeway was backed up in BOTH directions, with almost no way OUT. I was stuck, in traffic, for over 30 drive maybe 35 miles.

So while there are many really wonderful things, even still, in California....good luck trying to access them. Bumper to bumper traffic, and rush hour is pretty much dawn to dusk, even on weekends. A nightmare to find parking ANYWHERE, don't even think about the most desirable places to eat or shop -- and of course, no bus service, and good luck walking, when the city sprawls for vast distances.

I moved a few months later. This was 1980. SInce that time, the population of California has gone from 23 million to 39 million. DO THE MATH, people. It was a horrorshow in 1980, what do you think it is like today?
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
Darn my bad internet typing skills.... obviously that is "I was stuck in traffic for THREE hours to cover 35 miles", not 30 hours. But who knows, maybe today it IS 30 hours.
Jon Dama (Charleston, SC)
"California now includes the three most densely populated metro areas in the United States:." The glory days of California - Beach Boys with "California Girls", the Mamas and the Papas with "California Dreaming", and finally Scott Mackenzie with "If you come to San Francisco" painted a picture for us East Coast guys of youth, vigor, fun, and oh - best of all - tanned beauties in tiny bikinis.

Who wouldn't want to live in the Sunshine State? Unfortunately - way too many - taking the population from about 16 million in the early '60s to near 45 million today. Visited Yosemite last summer - what a zoo - and not talking about the animals. From Coronado Beach in San Diego through the Big Sur and up to Mendecino the state is packed; there's no turning back - ruined forever. What a shame.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
Not only is California grotesquely has and has always had a very delicate ecological structure....desert and high chaparral.

You can cram this many people into New York, because the ecosystem is sturdier and can support it (still miserable, but not as great an ecological assault). Also the East coast and Midwest can draw WATER from the infinite Great Lakes (largest source of fresh water on the PLANET). California has limited water resources, too.

Consider that California is OFFICIALLY the poorest state in the union...yup, with all the tech billionaires. Because they are a tiny sliver of the population, and most people are POOR. They have a 24% poverty rate, and most people can't afford even the cheapest homes. In comparison, Mississippi and Alabama are doing fairly well!

At least 20% of the problem is illegal immigration. California is their preferred destination and where a majority live. And folks: they are not doing "stoop labor" in the fields. This is not 1955. They are living along the coasts, and working in construction, trucking, food service, housekeeping, child care -- all jobs that used to be done by US citizens.
karen (benicia)
The crowds at Yosemite and other tourist places are usually not Californians-- they are tourists from all over the country, and the world. We put up with them because we understand they contribute to the economy. Big Sur and Mendocino CROWDED? That is just nonsense. Have been to both, many, many times. Was just at Jenner beach last Sunday, south of Mendo. Lovely, perfect, uncrowded, unspoiled. (Better not wear a "tiny bikini" to those beaches, or you'll freeze your bum off!)
Rick (L.A.)
The Sunshine State is Florida, you are referring to The Golden State.
Chris N (D.C. Metro)
By hipsters, you mean kindergartners yelling "Mexico" back at flag-clad Trump supporters, as on YouTube?

I enjoyed SoCal from '86 until '05 when my own friends bolted. A 1:20 drive into OC could take 3 hours. Yes, some environmentalism is necessary with that population socked between sea and mountains. L.A. air is still brown. But my county's air was fine, and still they went to 10-hour workdays. Far worse was the guy whose house burned down because a protected rat species prevented his clearing a firebreak.

And of course, there are the NIMBY public retirees getting 90% of their working income in their golden years. Put it all together, and my old $850 studio now rents at $1350. The only affordable housing is in the desert, where there are few jobs. How could you not be stressed?

Say what you will about TX, OR, SC, etc., but they're state-proud. In Cali, it's everyone for themselves, especially in Sacramento.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
$1350? Heck, that's a bargain. I shared a 2 bedroom townhouse in Santa Monica with a friend; we paid $450 ($225 each) a month for a place with a fenced patio and a working fireplace. (I thought it was really expensive at the time.) Today those townhouses rent for $3500 a month.
Eloise Rosas (D.C.)
nice graphic illustration! very funny, in a painful way for this age group.
Ted Peters (Northville, Michigan)
When I lived in California 40 years ago, I viewed the East Coast as decadent. Today... California and maybe the country as a whole seems to fit this category. Trump's popularity is a desperate reaction to this national trend... but he really offers no policies to reverse the trend. Maybe it's just natural... after all, everything is nature tends toward decay.
Ray Gibson (Naples Fl)
Good article, but I'll settle for the whole damn country being California in a heartbeat. At least then it would be semi sane.
new conservative (new york, ny)
The biggest problem in California is sanctuary cities and uncontrolled illegal immigration - it is swamping that state and has raised public expenses and taxes beyond the point that most middle class people can tolerate.
SW (San Francisco)
More importantly, it has ruined our schools. We had one of the finest school systems in the nation as late as the 79s. Now we're in the bottom 5%.
Augustus McRae (Lonesome Dove, Texas)
California should be very proud of being the most progressive state in the country, and for revolutionizing the global economy through information technology (Silicon Valley).

Don't get hung up on the little things.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville)
Maybe this is where rampant, uncontrolled lefty liberalism and "progressiveness" leads -- if so, I want none of it. Nor do most Americans.
Alan R Brock (Richmond VA)
"The middle class feels pushed out by impossible housing costs."

The middle class doesn't just feel pushed out.

It is pushed out.
Michjas (Phoenix)
This account conspicuously omits South Central LA.
Kevin (Marble Hill)
South Central is the equivalent of the Bronx, not part of the conversation because so far it hasn't been attractive for gentrification. Angelenos find it more palatable to recolonize historically Latino neighborhoods on the east side than move south of the 10 freeway.
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
Obviously you have not been to South Central in the past 2 decades. It is one of the most dynamic and diverse Latino community in all of Los Angeles.
CA (Los Angeles, CA)
2/3rds of the population of South Central are Latino. Guess they have "gentrified" the area, as it is strengthening economically.
Islander (Texas)
To my dismay there are many Californians migrating to Texas; particularly Austin. I mean, why not; no State income tax and plenty of elbow room. Unfortunately they are bringing their lousy politics, freeway manners and governmental expectancies with them.
noname (nowhere)
Just move to Dallas and you'll find your old Texas back.
Mark (California)
I went the other way, leaving Austin for California. And I must say, driving is exceedingly more pleasant here. And the weather, well, there's no contest.

Austin has (and has had) a difficult to navigate bureaucracy since I moved there in the early 90s, despite the reputation for being "pro-business". Building a home in town was nearly impossible with the tree protection ordinances, color limitations, McMansion ordinances, envelope requirements, etc. Austin also has more hipsters than I've ever seen in the Bay Area - and that's saying something.

Californians were blamed for Austin's progression ever since I arrived there. 20 years later, when I left, it became clear that Austin became what Austin was always going to become, with or without California's influence.
SSS (Berkeley, CA)
In a list of federally dependent states, California comes in at 46, one of the least federally dependent states in the country, and only four are less so, all of them much smaller states. Texas is 29th. This is because while California's resident's dependency is higher than Texas's, the state government's dependency is much lower than Texas's. So as a state, Texas (where the politicians keep talking about secession, btw) seems to have far more "governmental expectancies".
Steven (Los Angeles, CA)
A lovely, distorted piece of of Anti-West Coast cynicism, with a focus on
LA LA Land as viewed from the Outside. (And, sorry, I'll take the so-called
"density" of Los Angeles over NYC any day!) As a native Angelino, I
would say to others: Watch California and how IT votes! It USUALLY
represents the Common Sense View of Things -despite the weather,
fashions, gym memberships, and multiple Trader Joe locations!
Bossystarr (Nyc)
yes, defining density from nyc, l.a. feels like bliss. room to spare. traveling in and out of nyc a nightmare in car.. yes. yes. ny gentrification is highly rapid. California is seeing the same thing. I moved back to nyc from l.a. and am undoubtedly seeking to return to l.a.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
This op-ed seemed to promise analysis, and what we got was lachrymose wistfulness for a bygone age when Harrison Ford was cruising the Bakersfield strip looking for John in his puke-green “douce-coup”, with Debralee Scott at his side declaiming “Ain’t he neat?!”

When all that was going on, California was a solidly Republican state and in great shape financially, certainly sufficiently well-off to afford to maintain its infrastructure, as well as its education that was tied for NY’s as being the best in the country. But, then, so was the whole country – we were on our way to the Moon and doing great things.

But, then, Democrats took over California, as waves of them took over the U.S. These days, like Europe, we’re more about feeding ourselves and providing Band-Aids than about doing great things – even defending ourselves effectively or leading the free world. California’s sad midlife crisis is presided over by Democratic legislative super-majorities bought and paid for by public sector unions. Their infrastructure is falling apart and their education is among the worst in the country – to paraphrase Richard M. Nixon, a Californian originally, “… only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

California was once everything we aspired to be. But then came the Democrats, and we know what it all turned into.
caljn (los angeles) turned into the nations leader. And then the current Democratic governor rescued it from yet another actor-Republican Governor.
remember when (NJ)
Wait a minute. You speak nostagically about the past then blame Democrats? You completely left out the several decades when the state had mostly Republican governors, who in my view were the ones who are to blame. I was there in 1978 when people stupidly voted for Prop 13. Now the short-sided thinking of lowering taxes and not investing in education or infrastructure is evident. Californians wanted all their pretty freeways but not to pay for them. The car culture of LA, instead of investing in public transportation, is also to blame for the ridiculous traffic and smog. I lived in California for 37 years and mostly loved it. I certainly don't blame Democrats for any of its failings.
Lyle S (CA)
American Graffiti is set in Modesto, George Lucas' - and my - hometown. Not Bakersfield. The film was shot in Petaluma in the Bay Area. And, California's educational system has fallen to a ranking of 47th in the US because we stopped funding it - not because of Democrats.
Look Ahead (WA)
It's a little early to write off California. Like most of the other states with high job growth rates, CA also has an unemployment rate above the national average. CA saw 439,000 jobs added in 2015, with an unemployment rate of 5.9%. Kiplingers forecasts a repeat of this growth in 2016.

So how could this be? Maybe because people keep moving there, in spite of high taxes, neglected infrastructure and climate challenges. A couple of decades of GOP leadership tried to convince Californians that the path forward was cuts, to taxes on the wealthy and to higher education in particular.

But the success of CA is built in their world leading university systems. They offset state budget cuts by bringing in more out of state and foreign students, many of whom stayed for the tech boom.

Even as the iconic agriculture business of CA shrinks, the State demonstrates that the future is driven by education, not alfalfa.

Many challenges face CA in the future, especially in the LA Basin. But it's a little early to write off the state.
Susan Vintilla-Friedman (Carlsbad, CA)
California has some of the greatest employment opportunities in the world for the educated; not so great for others. Thank goodness it also has such an excellent public university and college system. California is still a work in progress, with the emphasis on progress. Hopefully that can continue in a way that is compatible with social justice.
SW (San Francisco)
The labour participation rate is consistently less than 5%, which explains why those of us who work have such a crushing tax burden.
See also