Population Dispersion Continues in Riverside-San Bernardino, San Diego and Sacramento

Population growth continued the strongest in the suburban areas of Riverside-San Bernardino, San Diego and Sacramento, while unusually strong growth occurred in the historical core municipalities, all of which are dominated by a suburban urban form.

Riverside-San Bernardino: Riverside-San Bernardino experienced by far the fastest growth of any metropolitan area in California, at 30 percent from 2000 to 2010. This growth rate placed the metropolitan area otherwise known locally as the "Inland Empire" fourth in growth rate among the 26 reporting major metropolitan areas, behind Raleigh, Las Vegas and Austin. The Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area grew from a population of 3,255,000 in 2000 to 4,225,000 in 2010. At the growth rates of the past decade, Riverside-San Bernardino would pass San Francisco, to become the state's second largest metropolitan area by 2012.

Riverside-San Bernardino is virtually an all suburban metropolitan area. The historical core municipality of San Bernardino grew 11.4 percent, from 188,000 in 2000 to 210,000 in 2010, capturing two percent of the metropolitan area growth. Suburban areas accounted for 98 percent of the growth.

San Diego: The San Diego metropolitan area grew 10 percent from 2000 to 2010, rising from 2,814,000 to 3,095,000. This growth rate was nearly double or more than that of the other major coastal metropolitan areas in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose). Even so, the actual population count was approximately 130,000 below the California State Department of Finance estimate. We had previously questioned the aggressive population projections released by the State Department of Finance in an Orange County Register op-ed, 60 Million Californians: Don't Bet on It).

The historical core municipality grew 6.9 percent from 1,223,000 to 1,307,000 and, as in 2000 is the nation's eighth largest municipality (having been passed by San Antonio and having passed Dallas). The city of San Diego, with a largely suburban urban form, attracted 30 percent of the metropolitan area population growth. The California State Department of Finance estimate for the city was much higher, at 1,376,000, indicating an estimate of two new residents for every actual resident counted.

Sacramento: The Sacramento metropolitan area grew strongly between 2000 and 2010, at 19.6 percent. The population rose from 1,797,000 to 2,149,000, adding more new residents than the much larger combined metropolitan areas of San Francisco and San Jose.

The historical core municipality of Sacramento grew from 407,000 to 466,000 (a gain of 14.6 percent) and accounted for 17 percent of the metropolitan population growth. Suburban areas grew 21.1 percent and accounted for 83 percent of the metropolitan area growth.