Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Home Prices Drive Down Enrollment"

The inevitable population shift is commencing in un-affordable California. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports the effects on the local school district. "The most evident reason why enrollment continues to fall is that many parents feel they no longer can afford to live here, said Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Alan Pagano."

"'The local economic conditions, which unfortunately have not substantially calmed down, make it so people literally can’t afford to live, work or send their kids to school'. The district retained 94 percent of its students living in more costly homes, but only 55 percent of those living in more affordable housing."

"And the problem is not unique to Santa Cruz. Jack O’Connell, the state’s superintendent of schools, said about 40 percent of the state’s districts are showing declining enrollment."


At 9:58 AM, Blogger PunKtilious said...

Interesting Link.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although it is fashionable to think so, I'm not sure that the absurd home prices here in Santa Cruz are the cause of our declining enrollments. This is a statewide demographic shift that has been predicted for years, as the baby boom "echo" grows up. I know that the planning numbers that were discussed years ago for the state university systems showed rising college enrollments to about 2010, then at-best flat enrollments for years before the rise begins again near the end of that decade. This seems consistent with the pattern of enrollment declines in Santa Cruz, where we've seen drops in the elementary age population which are now moving up towards the high school age groups.

The Sentinel isn't exactly known for its penetrating statistical analysis, and in this story the numbers were given completely raw, with no comparisons (either historical or to other areas) for context. It doesn't seem surprising to me that the geographic stability of renters (which is what the lowest price catagory in this particular demographic report was dominated by) is lower than the geographic stability of home owners. In Santa Cruz in particular, we have a transient population of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who are far more likely to rent and often have kids who start in our schools and then move elsewhere.

I'm not saying that the high housing prices in Santa Cruz are rational, or that they don't cause a range of social problems. But given the great beauty of the area, the climate, the educated, liberal, and interesting populace, the growth of the university, and the very tight growth limits in this and all nearby towns, I'm not sure that $750k for a tract house here sounds as bizarre as $500k for a tract house in some far flung commuter suburb.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Ben Jones said...

punktilious, Thanks for the link.

I appreciate your comments. We need insight like yours to put the media reports in context..Thanks..Ben

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister in-law lived in Santa Cruz and left after she had a child. She wanted to stay home with her baby and it was too expensive for her husband to make it there. They moved to Las Vegas where they were able to buy a house a year ago but are now coming back to the Seattle area (where I live) to be closer to family. They would have loved to stay in Santa Cruz for many of the reasons the previous anonymous writer stated. However, between California socialist taxation and high housing prices they just couldn't expect to make it on one salary and get ahead financially.

So, from my perspective, I have a first hand account that confirms that people with children cannot afford to live in Santa Cruz unless they come from money.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Ben Jones said...

(people with children cannot afford to live in Santa Cruz)

Thanks for your account. It makes the discussion more relevant to us.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Mike Linksvayer said...

Having to put up with fewer kids & parents is about the only positive effect of high housing prices.


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