Frustrated Californians move out, say coronavirus 'pandemic was last straw'

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Frustrated Californians move out, say coronavirus 'pandemic was last straw'
Many frustrated residents are leaving California to live in states with looser stay-at-home regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

NOVATO, Calif. (KGO) -- Elon Musk is not the only person threatening to leave California. Dissatisfied residents have left in a minor exodus in recent years.

In 2019, more than half a million Californians moved to Texas, alone. That is hard to believe when standing along Grant Avenue in Novato. It's another iteration of Main Street, USA.

But behind some of the small business storefronts in this picture-perfect scene, the coronavirus has brought pain and doubt to the American dream.

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"It is hard to keep up with the bills right now," said Lam, an immigrant from Vietnam. His family arrived with next to nothing, 30 years ago.

Now, their restaurant called Bacon, is much of what they have to show for it. But with his doors still closed, profits have dropped 90 percent.

The family is ready to move to Texas, which is opening up, and already more affordable than California.

"I blame the state. Yes. I do," said Tien.

He's not alone.

Up in the hills, Lauren Prichard prepped, this morning, for a move to Florida, by throwing old furniture into a dumpster.

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"What is wrong with California?" we asked.

"I don't like the litter, the trash, the homeless."

"But that was before the pandemic," we reminded her.

"The pandemic was the last straw because they shuttered businesses that could stay open."

One business in particular hit home for her. It's her husband's film to digital transfer service. When we asked Mike Prichard about what role COVID-19 plays in their decision?

"It's challenging, shall we say?"

And that from a man who wants to move, despite 40 years of living in this state.

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"Can you live better someplace else?" we asked.

"Quite possible."

The complaints about California and talk of an exodus from it, are not new. COVID-19, and its effect on commerce, have created a perfect storm to bring them to the fore, at least for those among who already had inclinations.

"Now I feel the cure is worse than he problem. A month of shelter in place is enough," said Lam.

"If you use your common sense and social distance, I don't see any reason not to open up," added Michael Prichard.

And so the difficulties of striking that balance to find the greater good.

How to find the sweet spot remains a mystery.

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