Profile of Del Norte: A clearer view emerges

Written by Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate February 20, 2013 05:25 pm

Crescent City’s icon, Battery Point Lighthouse, is often shrouded in fog, but a new statistical profile sheds light on Del Norte.
Crescent City’s icon, Battery Point Lighthouse, is often shrouded in fog, but a new statistical profile sheds light on Del Norte. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
An economic and demographic profile of Del Norte County has some surprising and not-so-surprising data about the lives of its residents. It may not surprise locals that the number of government jobs outweigh those in the private sector, or that the federal government is the largest landowner in Del Norte County.

But did you know that more people relocated to Del Norte from Los Angeles County than any other county except for Humboldt to the south and Curry to the north? Or that Del Norte County residents use more electricity per capita than the state average?

The Del Norte County Local Transportation Commission recently released the 2013 Del Norte County Economic and Demographic Profile. Compiled by the Center for Economic Development at California State University, Chico, the profile is available to local businesses and officials for planning and marketing, according to Tamera Leighton, the transportation commission’s executive director.

Grant writers also use the document in their efforts to bring programs and funding to Del Norte County, she said.

“A lot of people use it,” Leighton said. “One of the reasons I like it so much is it has constant information reported over time.”

The Local Transportation Commission and the Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority commissioned and funded the profile jointly up until two years ago, Leighton said. The Transportation Commission has continued to pay for it, she said, adding that she has been receiving the profile for about 12 years.

Leighton said the economic and demographic profile is helpful in obtaining funding for transportation projects. 

It also bolsters an argument against raising taxes, Leighton said. Referring to a 19-county group called the Self Help Counties Coalition, which tax themselves to raise money for local transportation projects, Leighton said the profile helps demonstrate that because most of Del Norte’s land is publicly owned, such a tax wouldn’t have a meaningful impact.

“It helps me to demonstrate that the cost of publicly owned land is a financial burden on our community,” she said. “Even if we were to pass a tax we would raise so little money that we would not have a meaningful impact on the cost of our transportation project.”

Del Norte pays a price for its preserved lands, including the redwoods.
Del Norte pays a price for its preserved lands, including the redwoods. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
What stands out for Warren Jensen, the Center for Economic Development’s project manager for applied research, is the dominance of government jobs versus private sector jobs in Del Norte County. This may be due to the fact that nearly 80 percent of Del Norte County’s land is publicly owned, he said.

Coupled with Del Norte County’s geographic isolation, the dominance of government jobs can be a hindrance to the county’s economic growth, Jensen said.

“A lot of your economic growth is tied to the budgetary situation at the state and federal level,” he said. “Del Norte County hasn’t experienced a whole lot of the recovery yet largely because it’s going to be limited by limited increases in government employment.”

The county’s geographic isolation helps its environmental quality, Jensen said. Long work commutes impact air quality, and Del Norte commutes tend to be much shorter than average in California.

“That’s something to crow about because a lot of people are looking for shorter commutes to work,” Jensen said. “That’s one of the issues we run into in Del Norte County. There aren’t a lot of indicators of pollution in the area, but that’s largely because folks that measure those kinds of things tend to agree that it doesn’t need to be monitored. It’s not a problem area.”

As for Del Norte County’s above-average electricity consumption, Bob Graveley, a spokesman for Pacific Power, said a possible explanation may lie in the fact that there is no natural gas service in Del Norte.

“For a lot of water heaters, heaters, stoves and the like, some people would have those powered by natural gas,” he said. “It seems likely  that that’s what would explain it, that more people are using electrical power for those kinds of appliances.”

According to the economic and demographic profile, Del Norte residents used a little over 5,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per capita in 2011. Statewide, residents used a little over 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per capita in 2011. 

The 2013 Del Norte County Economic and Demographic Profile is available for free at www.dnltc.org. People can copy the tables and charts in the report and use them in their own documents as long as they cite the source of their data. 

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it