This summer, my 45-year-old son Matthew, who’s lived almost his entire life in San Pedro, upped roots and moved to Henderson, Nevada.
I understand that adult children moving away is part of life, but what really bothers me is he and his wife had the nerve to take my two precious, beautiful granddaughters with them. (Apparently, the fact that the grandparents will miss them terribly didn’t figure in their decision.)
Nearly at the same time, one of my oldest friends recently retired, sold his San Pedro home, and moved to Oklahoma to be near his children and grandchildren.
In both cases, as with the hundreds of thousands of other Californians who have left in recent years, it was a combination of the political and economic climate that made the best thing about living here — the actual climate we all love — no longer paramount.
For my son, who rented within walking distance of Cabrillo Beach, the unaffordability of housing in this area was a major factor. When our daughter-in-law, a licensed chief mate, got a full-time job with Matson earlier this year, the need to be close to her union hall in Wilmington was no longer necessary. Able to live almost anywhere, they settled on Henderson, a beautiful, planned community adjacent to Las Vegas, where you can still buy a nice home at a reasonable price (compared to San Pedro, that is) and pay no state income tax.
It wasn’t a move taken lightly. Almost all of my son and his wife’s friends are in the San Pedro area, and uprooting two teenage girls is never easy, but the timing was good. Youngest granddaughter Giuliana had just graduated from Dodson, and big sister Angelina had just finished her first year at POLAHS. So they started a new high school together in August.
One of those circle-of-life scenarios also was involved. Matthew was born in Las Vegas when I worked as a sportswriter for the Las Vegas Sun. While my wife, Deb, was pregnant, her brother, Michael, who grew up in San Pedro, moved to Las Vegas and began a highly successful career in the collection business and has been there ever since.
Matthew was only three weeks old when we left Las Vegas, and he grew up in San Pedro. My wife’s mother, Faye, also lived in San Pedro for many years before moving to Las Vegas, where she lives now at age 92. Forty-five years later, Matthew is now living within minutes of his uncle, aunt, cousins, and grandma.
And I’m not even counting the Raiders. Like many of his generation in San Pedro, my son grew up a Los Angeles Raiders fan. As an adult, after the team moved back to Oakland, he would fly up and catch an occasional game in the Bay Area. Now, you can stand in the street in front of his home in Henderson and look straight down into Las Vegas and see the Raiders’ new home, the “Death Star.”
In addition, just a few weeks after moving in, he was at a local gym and ran into an old friend from his San Pedro church youth group. This friend had moved to Henderson years ago.
The relocation story of my friend is almost the reverse of my son’s. Two of my friend’s three children, all of whom were born and raised in San Pedro, already lived in the Midwest, one in Oklahoma, where he’d gone to school, and another not far away in north Texas, where her husband works. The eldest child had just moved to Oklahoma; her husband, another born-and-raised San Pedran, was a Los Angeles Fire Department battalion chief. Being surrounded now by his family made the move to Oklahoma pretty easy for my friend, and the L.A.-area housing market allowed him to sell his Rolling Hills Highlands home for beaucoup bucks and purchase a huge home with acreage for a mere pittance. And, yes, it comes with a tornado shelter.
All that big money available to San Pedro homeowners has figured into many decisions to pull up stakes. Just weeks after my son moved, my next-door neighbor, a retiree, put his home up for sale, and it sold within days; he’s headed for Reno. And another neighbor just around the corner, much younger, has put his home up for sale and is moving to Arizona.
And I can’t tell you how many longshoremen I’ve met whose main residences are in other states or who are planning to leave California as soon as they retire.
San Pedrans, including myself, have always believed they live in one of the best places on earth, but, for better or worse, we’re still under the governance of Los Angeles city, Los Angeles County, and Sacramento; there are reasons California’s population dropped by around 367,000 in the year before July 2021.
Zoe Strimpel in the UK’s Telegraph wrote: “People are fed up (with) soaring taxation, the high cost of living, groaning regulation, an authoritarian impulse on full show during Covid, and stagnating job growth. The heavy-handed state continually fails to solve the lethal social problems that are on permanent display, from mass shootings… to spiraling homelessness.
“The sad truth is that California is reaping what it has sown: not simply with its heavy-handed regulation, but in its deep and committed embrace of wokeness, which permeates from its courts via Hollywood to schools and hospitals.”
California dreamin’… not so much anymore. spt