The commuters are back: Manteca, Lathrop among California’s fast-growing cities

Manteca’s population exploded in 2018. A new state report found that the city had the fifth-highest growth rate in California for cities with a population greater than 30,000.

The southern San Joaquin County city grew by 3.4 percent last year, giving it 83,781 residents, according to a report from the California Department of Finance released Wednesday. The city added 2,759 residents, the ninth most in the state.

Nearby Lathrop also saw significant growth with new home construction propelling its expansion. Its population grew by 5.2 percent, giving it 24,936 residents. Its rate of growth for new housing units was second-highest in the state, at 4.79 percent.

San Joaquin County as a whole gained more than 30,000 residents, giving it a 1.7 percent growth rate and 770,385 total residents.

By comparison, Stanislaus County saw fairly flat growth. Its population expanded by 0.9 percent, or about 4,000 residents. It now has 558,972 residents.

Modesto added about 2,000 residents, giving it a population of 215,201.

Other cities in Stanislaus County had slightly faster growth rates. Newman’s population climbed by 2.1 percent to 11,738, Oakdale’s by 1.7 percent to 23,413, Patterson’s by 1.5 percent to 23,414 people, and Riverbank’s by 1.1 percent 25,318 people.

California added about 186,000 residents last year, giving the state 39.9 million residents. Its birthrate was the slowest in state history. California had 18,000 fewer births than in 2017, according to the Finance Department.

The report also showed that wildfires drove an exodus from hard-hit California cities last year, shifting tens of thousands of residents from Paradise, Redding and Malibu to other communities.

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The Camp Fire in Butte County, which killed 85 people, did the most damage. It destroyed 11,371 housing units in Paradise and wiped out 90 percent of the city’s residences.

Many of those displaced Californians moved to nearby Chico, which gained 19,000 residents and become the state’s fastest-growing city. Chico’s population now stands at 112,000.

But Butte County wasn’t the only region of the state to see population shifts because of the fires. The state lost almost 20,000 housing units last year to fires.

Butte County hit by the Camp Fire lost 14,600 of them.

The Carr Fire in Shasta County 900 burned residences.

The Woolsey Fire did the most damage in Southern California. Ventura County lost 700 homes and the city of Malibu saw 500 burn.

Lake County, which has suffered extreme wildfires repeatedly since 2015, lost another 300 homes.

California has faced successive deadly fire seasons over the past four years, leading Gov. Gavin Newsom boost the state’s firefighting budget and commission a task force on how to pay for the damage.

“We’re all in this together .... We all have a burden and a responsibility,” he said at a news conference last month.

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