California observed: 40 million and counting

405-looking-north.jpgLA Observed file photo of the 405 freeway in Culver City.

The state's annual report estimating the California population, out today, carries some interesting milestones. The one I like most is that California is within earshot now of 40 million residents — 39,256,000 — based on analysis of housing data and other measures. (The next official actual count is the U.S. census in 2020.) The state's population went up a little in 2015 — by 348,000 people, or about 0.5 percent — with most cities large and small seeing a bump upward.

The way these surveys rely on slightly old data, in reality California is possibly already over 40 million. When I was the roving California reporter for the Los Angeles Times, I started a series on the impacts of the population creeping over 30 million. It was a fun exercise at the time that allowed me to include a diverse set of stories under the umbrella of "30 Million and Counting," including a look at the future of rice farming in the Sacramento Valley as the demand for water increased, the rise of a nasty weed in soil disturbed for development, and the arrival of minor league baseball in the high desert. The series ended prematurely when I moved into editing at the paper, and it has taken about 25 years to now approach the 40 million milestone. That means, just to cherry pick some stats, California is bigger in population than Canada, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Australia and all but about 32 other countries.

The state Department of Finance's estimate also pegs the city of Los Angeles at over four million population for the first time since the state has done this report. Or not quite triple the population of California's second-largest city, San Diego. Here is the top 10:

1. Los Angeles 4,030,904
2. San Diego 1,391,676
3. San Jose 1,042,094
4. San Francisco 866,583
5. Fresno 520,453
6. Sacramento 485,683
7. Long Beach 484,958
8. Oakland 422,856
9. Bakersfield 379,110
10. Anaheim 358,136

Irvine and Santa Clarita were the cities to grow the most in raw numbers over the previous year.

The state pegs the Los Angeles County population as 10,241,335 as of last Jan. 1.

Here is the full report if you like to peruse the stats.

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