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California’s population is shrinking, but not on the Central Coast

Hills of San Luis Obispo County
Posted at 6:34 PM, May 04, 2022

California’s population is shrinking but that’s not the case for the Central Coast. Local real estate experts say the pandemic is likely driving growth in our area.

The California Department of Finance recently released a report showing every coastal county in California experienced a decrease in population between January 1 of 2021 and 2022 except San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz counties.

Between 2010 and 2020, San Luis Obispo County experienced a population change of 4.7%.

"The last two years we've been going, 'Where did all the people come from? It's like suddenly there's just more people,'" said Hal Sweasey, Team Sweasey president.

Local real estate experts say the pandemic is a driving force behind the influx of people from nearby cities.

"Now that people are able to work remotely, we have seen that after COVID a lot of companies changed their work policies and have granted their employees the ability to work remotely," said Amy Daane, owner of The Avenue Central Coast Realty.

Sweasey says people enjoy the weather, beaches, wineries, safety and the neighborhoods in San Luis Obispo.

"Now with people working remotely, if you have a choice between paying a lot of money is San Francisco or LA and being here, we see so many people being here," Sweasey said.

"I think it is what the region has to offer. A lot of it is they want to get out of the big cities, the congestion, the traffic," Daane said.

During the pandemic, many Californians chose to travel domestically and explore nearby cities.

"They did little staycations and I think a lot of people discovered the Central Coast as this magic little place during that time," said Daane.

The census report mentions part of the reason certain parts of the Central Coast have not experienced a decrease in population is due to college students returning to campus.

Overall, San Luis Obispo County’s population from January of 2021 to January of 2022 increased by 0.4% but many cities did see a decline.

Paso Robles decreased by 1.5%, Morro Bay by 1.6%, Pismo Beach by 1.4% and Arroyo Grande by 1.3%.

The City of San Luis Obispo increased by 0.2% and growth in the unincorporated areas of the county amounted to a 2% increase.

SLO Co. population change.JPG