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Population Growth

March 03, 1994

* It is true that demographics is an imperfect science, but a recent state report indicating that California's population growth rate fell to 1.4% last year does not mean that we can stop worrying about our increasingly crowded state ("A Demographic Lesson," editorial, Feb. 13).

Our current poor economic climate is largely responsible for sluggish population growth, as workers leave the state in pursuit of jobs elsewhere. But as our economic situation improves, there is no reason to believe that California will not once again become a magnet for those seeking a better life. In fact, according to the governor's office, current estimates indicate that the state's population will grow to 36.6 million people by the year 2000--an increase of 6.3 million from 1990. This exceeds the population growth absorbed by the state in the 1980s, and translates to almost 2,000 new Californians per day for the rest of the decade.

Meanwhile, we have not adequately dealt with the population boom of the last few years: Schools are still overcrowded, roads are still clogged, water shortages are a constant danger, and open space continues to disappear at an alarming rate.

Your editorial also fails to address the problems created by the hundreds of thousands of people still entering California illegally each year: Our state is home to more illegal immigrants than the rest of the country combined.

The single most important step we can take to ensure that population growth does, in fact, slow down and become manageable is to get truly serious now about enforcing our laws against illegal immigration.

REP. ANTHONY C. BEILENSON

D-Woodland Hills

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