USA– The number of new housing units in California declined last year for the first time since the start of the economic recovery, due mostly to wildfires that scorched more than 2,000 homes, state officials reported Monday.
Californias housing supply rose by 67,110 units last year, compared with an increase of 69,435 units in 2014. Demographers at the California Department of Finance say the number of new units would have been about equal to the year before if the destructive wildfires in Lake and Calaveras counties had not hit.
Of the new units created, just over half were multi-family dwellings like apartments and condominiums. Los Angeles, Californias largest city, saw the most growth in housing, with 12,224 new units. It was followed by San Francisco with nearly 2,900, San Jose with just over 2,000 and San Diego with about 1,750.
The housing hit came as Californias population grew to 39.1 million last year, an increase of 348,000 people, just under 1 percent.
Most of the states 482 cities saw population gains, but 44 cities shrank and one tiny Tehama, population 431 was unchanged.
Here are some other findings from the states annual city-by-city population report:
LA HITS 4 MILLION
Los Angeles surpassed 4 million residents for the first time in the states annual estimates 4,030,904 to be exact.
More than 50,000 people moved to the nations second-largest city last year, increasing its population by 1.3 percent.
San Diego is still Californias second-largest city, adding 12,000 residents to reach just under 1.4 million. San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield and Anaheim round out the top 10.
SUBURBS AND EXURBS GROW FASTEST
Cities and counties on the outskirts of the red-hot Los Angeles and San Francisco areas are growing especially fast.
San Joaquin County, home to Stockton, grew faster than any other, up 1.3 percent to 733,000 people. The area has become increasingly popular for people fleeing astronomical San Francisco Bay Area housing prices while remaining within commuting distance.
San Joaquin was followed by Yolo, Riverside and Santa Clara counties.
The fastest-growing city was Vernon in Los Angeles County, which grew a whopping 72 percent thanks to a new housing development that brought its population to 210.
Among cities with at least 30,000 people, the fastest-growing were concentrated primarily in the Inland Empire and Orange County: Porterville, Eastvale, Lake Forest, Beaumont and Lake Elsinore.
JAILS SEE DROP
County jails saw a drop of 11.3 percent, likely due to Proposition 47 sentencing changes for drug and property crimes.
Declines in prison population caused some smaller cities to shrink, including Avenal in Kings County, Tehachapi in Kern County, Susanville in Lassen County, Crescent City in Del Norte County and California City in Kern County.
Elsewhere, correctional institutions caused unusually large population increases. They include Soledad in Monterey County, McFarland in Kern County and Blythe in Riverside County.Tara Singh Sob, 76, of Silgadi feels very strange these days. He had never seen such view of nature ever before. Heavy haze throughout the day in the month of May is what he is finding quite surprising. “Mist was seen in winter morning and evenings. But seeing such mist-like haze during summer is strange, I have never seen this before,” he said.
This year, almost all parts of Doti district are experiencing such uncommon weather. Locals are finding it difficult to carry out their daily activities due to insufficient light even during the day. “It’s very dark all the time. We see sunlight only for a while in day,” said Khadak Bikram Shahi, a businessman from Dipayal. “Though the weather is very hot all the time, we haven’t seen the sun properly for a week now,” he added.
Locals feel that that haze has been due to the recent surge in forest fires in and around the district. Forest fires have been catching up in the region – in the mountain and adjacent Tarai districts. “Perhaps it’s due to smoke released from the forest fires in our and surrounding districts, Narendra Khadka, president of local branch of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) said. “Fire has destroyed most of the forests in the district. You can see literally every forest in the district has been engulfed by fire. It seems that the smoke released from these fires have clouded the atmosphere here,” he said.
The haze has taken toll on public health as well. Locals have been complaining of respiratory problems, headache, irritation in eyes and various skin related problems. Suraj Baldar, assistant doctor at the eye clinic of the District Hospital, informed that numbers of patients visiting the facility has been increasing. “Though we used to see surge in the number of eye patients at this time of the year, this time their number has been quite high, ” he said adding, “The quality of the air has degraded.”
Similarly, Harish Shah, public health monitor at facility pointed that there has been surge in the number of people complaining of respiratory problems. “Even when people are simply sitting or taking rest, they are sneezing time and again. Many find it difficult to breathe,” he said. “Such problem is seen even more in motorcyclists.”
Meanwhile, Min Kumar Aryal, meteorologist in the district said that such atmosphere has been prevalent in most part of the country. “This is not an issue that Doti alone is facing. Other districts are also facing similar circumstances. Forest fire in the western side of the district has worsened air quality here,” he said.
He claims that the haze would subside if it would rain. “Pollution levels in the atmosphere would drop down significantly if it would rain. Normally at this time of year, the district should receive pre-monsoon rain fall. But this year, it has not rained so far. This has escalated pollutant levels in the atmosphere,” he explained. – See more at: http://www.myrepublica.com/society/story/41602/forest-fire-haze-robs-doti-of-sunlight.html#sthash.yqBwgZho.dpuf