The Great Bay Area Exodus is Changing Sacramento

27,000 people moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento last year. The year prior, 24,000. These newcomers, sometimes comically referred to as “Bay Area refugees,” have been driven out by sky-high rents and cost of living in a world of haves and have-nots.

Analysts like to focus on the exodus’ implications for San Francisco. But as the Guardian notes, their flight is changing the social and economic makeup of much of Sacramento.

Today, downtown and midtown Sacramento are reminiscent of downtown San Francisco with all its construction equipment, scaffolding and work sites. Talk of new apartments or condominiums on this street or that one pop up as suddenly as the buildings themselves. Amid all this development, the city now known as the hometown of the Oscar-nominated filmLady Bird has carved out a spot for itself in the farm-to-fork movement in California, with new restaurants, coffee shop wine bars and local craft breweries.

“Our city has been on the up and up over the last few years,” said Cornelious Burke, who sits on the city planning commission. “I think we’re starting to finally recognize that Sacramento is a hidden gem. Housing is affordable. It’s a great place to raise a family. Crime is low here. It’s kind of like a quirky Portland of California.”

But with all that development and economic activity comes gentrification and growing economic and racial disparities.

“It’s not like we don’t know how this story ends,” Sacramento resident Katie Valenzuela told the Guardian. “We’ve seen it in the Bay and in LA. Is it nice to be able to walk down K Street and have people out and have businesses and places to eat? Yeah. But it’s so uneven. Who benefits?”

Rents in the formerly cheap Oak Park are now through the roof. People are flipping houses and selling them at prices longtime residents never dreamed they’d see — and can’t afford. People are being pushed out.

After all the years of trash talk, it’s nice to see Sacramento recognized for the great city it is. But some residents fear it may become another San Francisco.