Sonoma County’s population is decreasing, with more deaths than births, more going than staying

in Community

When Deja Whitney, an educator and artist, left Rohnert Park for San Francisco in October 2021, they became one of more than 3,000 residents who moved out of Sonoma County between 2021 and 2022.

Another was Bryce Gallagher, 22, a Sonoma State University communications major who, after graduating in May 2022, decided to move to San Diego for better job opportunities and to be closer to family.

“When it came time around graduation and I was deciding what I wanted to do, I love the area, but I didn’t really feel that there was really anything that was calling me to stay there,” Gallagher said.

With more people moving out than moving in, and more people dying than being born, Sonoma County’s population again dropped over the year between July 2021 and July 2022, according to the latest state estimates. That continued a five-year contraction that traces to the devastating 2017 Tubbs and Nuns fires.

In 2017, before the October fires, the county’s population peaked at about 503,500. The most recent estimate from the state Department of Finance— which produces population reports annually — shows the county’s population in July 2022 as 480,261. That’s a loss of roughly 23,000 residents in five years, or about 4.5 percent of the 2017 high.

The wildfires were a key factor in that change, destroying more than 5,300 homes in Santa Rosa and elsewhere in the county. They were followed by the 2019 Kincade Fire and the 2020 Walbridge Fire, each blaze another trauma for residents. The climbing cost of living in general and in particular, the high price of housing — both rents and house prices — also drove many away, observers agree.

Continue Reading on The Press Democrat

Latest from Community

Go to Top