Alameda's population bests census high

Alameda's population bests census high

Michele Ellson

Updated at 9:47 a.m. Thursday, May 14 to reflect new data, in BOLD

Nearly 77,000 people now call Alameda home, new state data show.

That's more than U.S. Census takers have ever counted on the Island before and a fresh increase in the Island's first real population rise in more than a decade.

Newly released data from the California Department of Finance show that Alameda’s population grew 0.9 percent over the past year, to 76,638. That’s more than the 76,459 people who lived in Alameda when the Naval Air Station was in full operation in 1990, the previous high population point, decennial U.S. Census decennial data collected that year show, though not as many as the 78,515 the state said were here in 1994, Alameda's population high water mark.

Alameda’s growth rate tracked with that of the state as a whole, which also grew by 0.9 percent between January 1, 2014 and January 1 of this year, to 38.7 million. But it was less than Alameda County’s growth rate of 1.3 percent over the year. Alameda County was one of the fastest growing counties in the state this past year, the data show.

Alameda’s population has grown by about 3.8 percent or 2,800 people since the last decennial census, collected in April 2010, the data the state released show. Alameda’s population dropped between 1990 and 2000 – the decennial census taken after the Alameda Naval Air Station closed – but has been rising since then. The data are calculated using home building, birth, death, driver’s license and other data.

Alameda's population rose between 1990 and 1994, reaching 78,515 that year, the state's data show, but then dropped to 71,230 in 1998. Alameda's population was essentially flat from that point until 2009, when it exceeded 73,000, per the state's data.

The Bay Area’s rising economy is driving its rising population growth, said Cynthia Kroll, chief economist for the Association of Bay Area Governments, a quasi-governmental regional planning body. The Bay Area as a whole saw employment increase by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to the association’s State of the Region 2015 report.

State unemployment data released in March listed Alameda County’s unemployment rate at 4.8 percent, down from 10.9 percent in 2010, which was a 24-year high; the unemployment rate in nearby San Francisco is 3.6 percent. That’s compared to a statewide unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, data from California’s Employment Development Department show.

“We are seeing a reversal in migration trends with working aged adults moving into the region at higher rates than they are leaving,” Kroll wrote in an e-mail response to a reporter’s questions.

Kroll confirmed what many in the Bay Area have already long observed: That its population growth is particularly strong among young adults working in the tech sector.

She said Alameda County is seeing spillover in the form of single San Franciscans and young couples migrating to the East Bay for both cheaper and more family-friendly digs.

But here on the Island, there’s not much housing available for them to choose from.

Data provided in earlier stories on The Alamedan show that the Island’s rental housing stock is at 97 percent occupancy, which is full by industry standards. And the head of the local Realtors' association said that housing availability isn't keeping up with Alameda's growing population. An association study found that Alameda saw development of just 6 percent of the housing it needed to keep up with population growth between 2007 and 2014.

Just 33 homes and condominiums were listed for sale as of Tuesday, with prices ranging from $379,000 for a two-bedroom, one bathroom condominium in the Island’s Woodstock co-op to nearly $3 million for a 4,500-square-foot home in the heart of the Gold Coast.

In its Plan Bay Area long-range transportation, housing and land use plan, the association estimated that 2.1 million more people will call the Bay Area home in 2040 than did in 2010. The plan calls for development of new housing in “priority development areas,” a list that includes Alameda Point and the Island’s Northern Waterfront, to help accommodate the newcomers.

The Planning Board offered approvals Monday for development of the Point’s Site A, a 68-acre waterfront site expected to hold 800 homes, 600,000 square feet of commercial space and 15 acres of parks, and the City Council is expected to consider final approvals for the development on June 16.

Meanwhile, development on the Northern Waterfront is set to include conversion of the Del Monte warehouse and its environs into 380 new homes and the in-progress construction of the 89-home Marina Shores development.

Overall, the city’s planners estimate that some 1,841 new homes are either under construction or proposed to be built between now and 2023, numbers that include all three of those developments.


Submitted by C. (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

This comes as no surprise to those of us life long Alameda renters who are being driven out by ever rising rents or who remain here but live in constant fear of getting a 60 day notice. Trust me. We understand how precarious our shelter is at this point.

Submitted by marilyn pomeroy (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

"And the head of the local Realtors' association said that housing availability isn't keeping up with Alameda's growing population?"
The evidence of this must be more homeless people, otherwise the statement is patently false.

Submitted by Jan Greene on Wed, May 13, 2015

Thanks for this, Michele. Lots of good information here. It is interesting how you can look at data different ways...if you made this graph just 1970 to present, it wouldn't look nearly as dramatic, and would appear that Alameda's population has had slow but steady growth (relatively little compared with other cities in California) and very little since 1990's peak. Everything's relative. Do we know what happened in 1980? Recession? Base changes?

Submitted by joe (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

I hope these techies reproduce and then commit to our public schools.
Next door a 2bd/1bth listed for $650K just sold for $830K with a parade of young couples fleeing San Francisco.
I really think a direct/dedicated shuttle service to and from the 12th St BART would greatly mitigate traffic issues that will only get worse as Alameda Point grows.
If developers ever manage to fully defeat or gain variances for Measure A - Alameda as we know it will be finally Californicated, and done.

Submitted by b. (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015


The "evidence of this" is in the number of people being pushed out by 60-day notices. So, yes, it is people who had planned their entire family's life around residence on The Island being forced into uprooting and leaving, and effectively becoming 'homeless' as far as Alameda is concerned.

These are people that The Island needs. They have jobs here. They work here. They provide services and do jobs in this community that the people moving in will have no interest in doing. The "techies" moving in will have absolutely NO intention of filling the roles in the community that the people being pushed out provide. Thus an entire demographic of this town's population is being wiped out.

This is what the people who make the decisions about Alameda's future need to finally wake up and understand.

Submitted by Angela Hockabout (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

We at the Alameda Renters Coalition are seeing more families living in substandard housing, squishing a family of 4 into studios and 1 bedrooms. I myself moved my young family of four in with my mother in law.

Years of avoiding the problem of housing has brought us to this point. It's time to change along with the times. Let's not even mention the 300 children in the AUSD school district that fall under their definition of homeless. It's time for the city to do more than talk about housing, it's time to take action and vote to approve the Site A development plan.

Submitted by nora (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

I am confused. This number is less than the 1995 population (78,080) cited in Table IV-2 (pg 41 of pdf )of the Alameda Housing Element.

Submitted by Lauren (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

This report has a lot of information relevant to this conversation:

Submitted by denisea (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

Terrific article, thank you.

I would also add in response to Marilyn's comment, that when housing supply doesn't keep up with demand, there are a wide range of impacts. In addition to renters being displaced due to increasing rents (resulting from unabated demand and the numerous tangible negative societal impacts related to gentrification), the supply/demand imbalance also leads to severe overcrowding and renters being forced to endure dilapidated conditions because they cannot afford to move.

This article also gets at the underlying argument as to why I strongly support the Site A development -- that more people are going to move to Alameda no matter what happens at Alameda Pt. Status quo is not an option. Instead, I believe our choices are: 1) accommodate population growth in a rational way with much more efficient public transportation infrastructure (and lots of public amenities to boot) or 2) don't accommodate the people who are coming anyway leaving Alamedans with acres and acres of disintegrating buildings and infrastructure, corporate flight, and many many more cars on the road.

Submitted by Trevor B (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015


There is a shuttle to 12th St BART from Target, as well as a 2 other shuttles to BART.

Submitted by Nebraska Seyers (not verified) on Wed, May 13, 2015

There are already too many planned residential units in Alameda. The development at Alameda landing and at the Del Monte warehouse will create densities that are much too high for our island. What is wrong with more open space, parks and less traffic?

Submitted by Carol Gottstein (not verified) on Thu, May 14, 2015

Michele, people are sending me a link to your headline as if it was the gospel truth. I think you owe it to your readers to compare this data with previous long-standing sources which disagree with the California Department of Finance. As a former Planning Board member, I remember that when NAS was open, Alameda's population was often cited as being well above this number of 77K. The 2 links in the comments above support my view. They are 2 successive versions of the Alameda Housing Element, 2007-2014 and 2015-2023. Table A-2 on page 14 of the latter describes 1994 (peak year Alameda population)=79,297. Please explain why you think this historical data has been incorrect, to justify your headline. Thank you.

Submitted by Michele Ellson on Thu, May 14, 2015

Hi Carol/Nora:

Thanks for your comments. I was indeed comparing the DOF number to decennial census numbers, which is how I arrived at the result (the original DOF data I had only went back to 2010).

Based on the original comment, I did go back to the DOF website and found longer term data, which as you pointed out, did have some higher population numbers for Alameda than I had seen before. They are as follows:

1990 (census year)73,979
1991 74,577
1992 76,890
1993 77,142
1994 78,515
1995 77,261
1996 75,277
1997 71,230
1998 71,230
1999 71,624
2000 72,398
2000 (census) 72,259
2001 72,529
2002 72,749
2003 72,612
2004 71,980
2005 71,727
2006 71,558
2007 72,031
2008 72,598
2009 73,166
2010 73,717
2010 (census) 73,812
2011 74,044
2012 74,619
2013 75,395
2014 75,961
2015 76,638

So based on this, it looks like the story is more that the population is trending up again after remaining basically flat for over a decade. I will be adjusting the story accordingly.