Web site helps people get out of California

The Associated Press
Saturday June 09, 2001

LOS ANGELES — California, here I go. 

That could be the theme song of a new Web site designed to help disgruntled residents flee traffic, pricey real estate and rolling blackouts. 

Hayward resident Randy Lee, 39, designs Web sites and created the “Leaving California” site partly as a marketing tool for his own business. 

Then friends and family urged him to publicize the site, which contains links to real estate brokers and visitor’s bureaus, polls, a message board and other information to help people learn about career and living opportunities outside the state. 

“I don’t promote that anyone leave who is comfortable here and likes it here,” Lee said.  

“I’m a native and I love California. What I don’t love is the overpopulation, the traffic. Now we have the rolling blackouts. That’s going to destroy the economy.” Rising housing prices, traffic congestion and the other problems Lee cites are not the result of people leaving the state, but moving here in droves. 

Census figures show that while residents left the state in the early 1990s as the state struggled with recession, drought and other problems, California’s population actually rose 13 percent in the decade. 

Lee has already decided he will leave the state within two years for personal reasons, partly pegged to the high cost of living in his San Francisco Bay community. “I have a 20-year old daughter and a niece out toward Modesto,” Lee said.  

“There’s no way they can even think of buying a house here. I can’t afford to live here anymore. It’s a sad realization when it hits you that you can’t afford to live in your home.” Lee’s Web site has been attracting visitors and even advertisers. Lee said about 20,000 people visited the site this past week and he is making a profit selling ads to real estate brokers and similar relocation companies. 

Paul White, an agent with Liberty Realty in Las Vegas, heard about Lee’s site through a client who is moving from the Bay area. He decided to buy an ad earlier this week. 

“There’s a lot of people leaving California for the Las Vegas area and I want to have as many of those people as possible contact me,” he said. 

White said the ad, which links people to his own Web site, hasn’t yet resulted in any  

solid leads. 

“Probably people are looking for information whether or not they’re actually making the decision to move,” he said. “I think they’re looking for alternatives, weighing their options.” 

Jim Manning, lives in Waco, Neb., and is trying to sell his 34-acre property with an ad on Lee’s site.  

He said he called Lee after a friend reported seeing the site. “If people are leaving your state as fast as they say they are, or thinking of leaving, maybe this would be the kind of place they would like to get out to,” Manning said. 

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