By 2020, most forecasters agree, California will be home to between 43 and 46 million residents -- up from 35 million today. Beyond 2020, the size of California's population is less certain. Depending on the composition of the population, and future fertility and migration rates, California's 2050 population could be as little as 50 million or as much as 70 million. One hundred years from now, if present trends continue, California could conceivably have as many as 90 million residents.
Where these residents will live and work, and how future Californians will occupy the landscape are unclear. These are important issues as California plans its long-term future. Will future population growth consume ever-greater amounts of irreplaceable resource lands and habitat? Will jobs continue decentralizing, pushing out the boundaries of metropolitan areas? Will development densities be sufficient to support mass transit or will future Californians be stuck in perpetual gridlock? Will urban and resort and recreational growth in the Sierra Nevada and Trinity Mountain regions lead to the over-fragmentation of precious natural habitat?
How much water will be needed by California's future industries, farms and residents, and where will it be stored? Where should future highway, transit and high-speed rail facilities and rights-of-way be located? Most of all, how much will all this growth cost, both economically and in terms of changes in California's quality of life?
Clearly, the more precise our current understanding of how and where California is likely to grow, the sooner and more inexpensively appropriate lands can be acquired for purposes of conservation, recreation and future facility siting. Similarly, the more clearly future urbanization patterns can be anticipated, the greater our collective ability to undertake sound city, metropolitan, rural and bioregional planning.
This report presents the results of a series of baseline population and urban growth projections for California's 38 urban counties through the year 2100. Presented in map and table form, these projections are based on extrapolations of current population trends and recent urban development trends.