Humboldt County, ‘where climate and Covid migration converge’

By Sarah Holder, Bloomberg CityLab, August 9, 2021

“As the West contends with climate change, Covid, and a housing crunch, Humboldt County, located 250 miles north of the farthest edges of the Bay Area, has become a refuge. […] As California’s current fire season continues to worsen, [people] who live in high fire risk areas are eyeing the drive north more seriously.

“But [the northward] migration has strained [the area’s] already limited housing supply, [as] wealthier Bay Area evacuees who are able to work remotely [compete with] longtime residents who are trying to hold onto their properties.

“Factors that have made other areas … more unlivable have only bolstered Humboldt’s appeal. [W]arming temperatures have made Humboldt milder than it used to be, piercing the once-constant fog and leading to more temperate days. Its isolated location on the coast and its concentration of old-growth redwoods and native trees make it less vulnerable to fires than its inland neighbors.

“But its forests and limited accessibility make it harder to support rapid growth. Houses built with redwood logs tend to stay in families for generations. After years of little turnover or new construction, inventory has stayed low. And now, demand has surged.

“[But Humboldt] ‘doesn’t have the infrastructure to accommodate people — short term or long term,’ said Annalise von Borstel, a real estate agent in Eureka.

“Other factors will likely make housing even tighter. Humboldt State University, the largest employer in the area, is planning to increase its technical offerings to become a polytechnic institution. It’s poised to receive more than $450 million in investments from the state to build more labs and research capacity, and eventually increase its student population by 6,000 to 8,000. The university has plans to add about 2,000 [housing] units, [not] enough to house the new students, faculty, and staff — and it won’t be built fast enough.”

Read the full article here.

Also in Roundup: In the Los Angeles Times, Sarah Parvini reported on wealthy Bay Area residents migrating to rural Sierra counties, such as El Dorado and Amador. Read that story here.

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