The Californians are coming! The Californians are coming!

The California migration to Snohomish County continues — and the Texas migration, Oregon, Arizona, and Florida. But, really, California.

The state Department of Licensing releases monthly summaries of new driver registrations from other states.

In 2014, Snohomish County had 13,021 new driver registrations, representing 13 percent of the state total. Through November 2015, the total new driver registrations in the county for the year was at 12,881, or 12 percent of the total.

California, Texas, Oregon, Arizona and Florida have long represented the Top 5 for in-migration to Snohomish County, mirroring regional and statewide trends. There have been only a few exceptions to that ol’ states club over the last 25 years (most recently, North Carolina edged into the No. 5 spot in 2010),

Sometimes Arizona is ahead of Florida, or Texas ahead of Oregon.

But California is always king.

Since 1999, more than 40,000 Californians have moved into Snohomish County. In all, a little under 1 in 4 new Snohomish County residents used to call that single state home.

California migration to Washington peaked in 1990 at over 39,000 transferred driver registrations. It went down from there before climbing again a decade ago, reaching nearly as high in the booming economic year of 2006. After another dip, the numbers have been climbing again the past two years.

The Puget Sound Regional Council predicts the region’s population will further explode. King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties together can expect 28 percent more people and 40 percent more jobs by 2040.

(A post on the council’s Regional View blog sparked this Snohomish County-focused take, by the way.)

OK, OK, jobs, yes.

But where does my mind really go with all this? Apparently the same place my predecessor Jeff Switzer went in 2008 when talking about a down year for sunny transplants: California drivers.

I grew up in Washington, and I remember the grumbling of the 1990s when “all those Californians” were moving into town and driving up home prices, even in sleepy little Monroe. By the time I was getting a license, “a California stop” was part of my accepted (if not legal) driving vernacular.

So today, are Californians the reason we have a law about texting and driving?

Is their propensity to skip turn signals and jockey for space the real reason behind our “Seattle Freeze” reputation?

Toll lanes?


OK, geophysics probably has more to do with that last one.

This is decidedly tongue-in-cheek, folks. I married a Californian, and he is the safest and most polite driver I know. One of my dearest friends is another transplant and calmly ferries her kids in their minivan.

But admit it, some of you got a twinge of angsty affirmation reading that list. An anti-California vibe was thoroughly imbued in Pacific Northwest life from the 1970s to the 1990s, a tough legacy to shake.

Perhaps enough former Californians have moved here now that we can move past such artificial divisions and recognize that we’re all migrants from somewhere down the line and what really matters is that we all call this beautiful area from Salish Sea to Stevens Pass our home.

That said, I do blame Californians for traffic.

Now, get out of my way.

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