As the COVID-19 pandemic loosens its grip on California cities, many have wondered if popular destinations for residents and tourists alike, such as downtown areas, will ever rebound.
Experts with the School of Cities at the University of Toronto compiled foot traffic data based on cellphone data from 62 North American cities from 2019 to November 2022 to see how quickly California’s downtown areas are recovering from the stay-at-home orders.
The report found that cities like Bakersfield, Fresno and San Diego are recovering or, at times, exceeded its pre-pandemic foot traffic numbers. In contrast, other cities like San Francisco and Oakland haven’t fully recovered.
This is how California cities ranked on the study’s downtown recovery analysis:
2nd: Bakersfield: 118%, Exceeded pre-pandemic foot traffic levels
3rd: Fresno: 115%, Exceeded pre-pandemic foot traffic levels
8th: San Diego: 93% of pre-pandemic foot traffic recovered.
18th: Sacramento: 75% of pre-pandemic foot traffic recovered
23rd: San Jose: 71% of pre-pandemic foot traffic recovered
35th: Los Angeles: 62% of pre-pandemic foot traffic recovered
57th: Oakland: 47% of pre-pandemic foot traffic recovered
63rd: San Francisco: 32% of pre-pandemic foot traffic recovered
Each downtown area in California has relied on different aspects to lure residents and tourists back to its downtown areas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
For example, San Diego has relied more on tourism and residential development during its recovery efforts, while San Francisco has depended on office work.
The variations of downtown recovery can also be attributed to the number of people leaving California’s biggest cities for smaller towns or different states.
In March, data published by the Census Bureau showed that California’s population shrunk by approximately 113,649 people from July 2021 to July 2022.
Other studies have shown that people have moved to find more affordable housing since California is notorious for having expensive housing prices.
For example, in San Francisco, the median home price is over $1.2 million; in Los Angeles, the median home price is $890,194, according to Zillow data.