Orange County supervisors said Tuesday that erroneous assumptions may have been used in a report projecting that Southern California’s population will grow 43% by 2010.
Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder said the report, issued Sept. 4 by the Southern California Assn. of Governments (SCAG), the area’s major regional planning group, “raises a red flag” because its numbers vary so much from the association’s past reports.
The SCAG report said the population in the six-county Southern California area will increase to 18.3 million by 2010, a 43% increase over last year’s estimated population of 12.8 million.
SCAG said that Latinos, the fastest-growing ethnic group, will constitute almost 40% of the population in the six counties in 2010. It said that Anglos, who accounted for 61% of the population in 1980, will then make up 41% of the total.
SCAG’s last such intensive study of population growth came out in 1982, and later modifications estimated that the population in 2010 would be 15.9 million, Wieder said.
She said the new figures differ radically from the old estimate and are “significantly higher” than projections prepared by the California Department of Finance and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Wieder said the level of growth projected by SCAG for the years 1980 to 2010 was estimated to average about the same as the 1950 to 1980 level, an assumption she questioned.
“Up to and into the 1970s, there was a large supply of inexpensive and easily developed land; the federal and state governments were subsidizing housing through veterans’ loans and FHA loans; the federal and state governments were subsidizing mass highway construction; the state was undertaking the development of the state water project, and there was considerable public acceptance and support for growth and development,” Wieder said.
Today, the supervisor contended, conditions are different. Land is more costly, housing subsidies have shrunk, major highway construction is down and the public increasingly is opposing growth and development.
The SCAG forecasts “are primarily a mathematical exercise that have not been evaluated from a ‘reality’ or ‘reasonableness’ perspective,” Wieder said.
Supervisor Roger R. Stanton agreed, saying that SCAG staff had a “proclivity” for issuing high figures. He said the report sounded like it was prepared by “a bunch of new kids with calculators.”
The supervisors agreed unanimously to have the county administrative officer draft a letter to SCAG expressing the supervisors’ concerns and asking for a paper spelling out the impact of the growth forecast on finances and programs in the county.