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Dick Turpin

Will Nature's Antics Slow Migration?

October 11, 1987|Dick Turpin

Will the display of nature's shake, rattle and roll stop or slow down migration into Southern California?

It's been a rough beginning for this month, what with the record-breaking heat wave following in the wake of the Oct. 1 quake and its after-shocks. Last Tuesday's power outage downtown added insult to injury.

And almost tauntingly, seismologists--and all-news radio station KFWB--continue to remind us that the "big one" is yet to come.

But through the years, Southern Californians have done such an amazing job of publicizing all of our natural wonders--the desert, the sea and the mountains--along with our man-made attractions--Hollywood, the numerous amusement centers and the life style--that any significant reduction in migration or tourism doesn't seem likely.

Recent newcomers have long known about our smog and traffic problems and how we brave it in Earthquake Country. Such detrimental factors have not stopped the historic and record growth and rise of California as the nation's No. 1 state in a number of categories, including some dubious honors.

As scientists have pointed out, as a somewhat comforting thought, earthquakes do increase real estate--causing portion's of the earth's crust to rise above the landscape and to heighten the altitude of hills and mountains.

Perhaps even as prohibiting as the fear of earthquakes to those who consider moving here, are the prices of homes, new and resale.

By almost every measure, whether judging values on a median, average or typical basis, the price tag on a Southern California dwelling can be anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 more than comparable homes elsewhere in the nation.

That has been the case for a decade now and only very recently--in certain Massachusetts and New Jersey areas--have prices been anywhere near ours.

Such high-cost areas as greater Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and the aforementioned Boston, rate very poorly among employees being asked to transfer to new jobs in other states. Not only do they resist such a move, they refuse the transfer--at their peril.

A new report on relocation--completed before our recent natural troubles--by Runzheimer International of Rochester, Wis., clearly indicates the resistance among would-be transferees to those cities. Of 143 relocation administrators participating in the survey, 82% said they encountered such resistance.

Transfers to New York were the least popular, drawing a 73% negative response. Los Angeles (including Orange County) and Boston were about even in unpopularity, Los Angeles ranking at 39% and Boston at 38%. San Francisco scored 31% and Washington checked in with 19%.

Where are the areas of least transfer resistance? Upstate New York and Hartford, Conn.

"Resistance from employees to move to higher-cost locations is rising because the difference in the cost of living between high- and low-cost locations is widening. As a result, the financial impact felt by employees moving to these areas is more severe and more apparent," said Kenneth Groh, editor of the Runzheimer newsletter.

The survey showed, he added, that 36% of the relocation administrators believe the frequency of employees' resistance to relocate to higher-cost areas is increasing, while only 6% note a decrease.

But as usual, all this may go by the wayside, come New Year's Day when millions of Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game television viewers get a glimpse of the Rose Bowl and environs with maybe a little touch of snow on the mountains.

Historically, that picture of pleasant, inviting weather has been a sure-bet attraction to many a viewer snowbound in the nether regions of the country. The next thing you know, about 10,000 of them--by very unofficial and emotional standards--are heading west, come high prices, earthquake, fire, flood or smog.

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