Stockton, CA's Bankruptcy

Stockton is in the news again … and once again it’s for being the worst at something. This time: Largest US City to Ever Go Bankrupt.


SJ Mercury News

Previous titles include:

Most Miserable City (twice, nationally)
Highest Crime Rate (nationally)
Highest Crime Rate (statewide)
Highest Violent Crime Rate (2nd place statewide)
Most Dangerous City (only 5th place nationally, slackers)
Highest Foreclosure Rate (nationally, 2007)
Worst Place to Live (3rd place, nationally)
Most Car Thefts (7th these days, but once Top 3)

I suppose I could rant about who is to blame, but I really don’t quite know (or care, honestly). It seems like a perfect storm of bad circumstances and worse decision making over the last decade or so. Apparently it is mostly related to real estate: the bubble/crash, plus some phenomenally bad investments by the city, with help from the infamous CA Prop 13.

Been here about two years, and haven’t had anything bad happen to me personally yet. Can’t say as much for some of the people I know closer to downtown though. I keep my head down, and stay home at night whenever possible. And I’m happy as hell to only be a renter. I once disliked cops, but lately I just feel so sorry for them.

So why live there? Why not Lodi or Modesto or Turlock or Sacto? Is it cheaper there?

I doubt if it’s cheaper, although rent may have dropped since the last time I was pricing. And I can’t speak for Peanut Gallery, but I’m here because it puts me two miles from where I work. Commutes suck.

In case anyone is interested: local column on history leading to bankruptcy. It’s a broad strokes article. There may be more details available later. The state is auditing Stockton.

Interesting…to my knowledge, the only American city to have gone bankrupt (previosly) was Fall River (MA). The city never recovered, and is economically depressed to this day. If Stockton does it right, it could lead to a renaissance. If not, 70 years of depression.

Dozens of municipalities have gone through Chapter 9 bankruptcies.

Some of the latest ones, in addition to Stockton, are Jefferson County, AL (2011, the biggest municipal bankruptcy ever), Central Falls, RI (2010), and Vallejo, CA (2008, another biggie).

In a word: HUBZone.

It does have a great Monorail. No wait that’s Ogdenville.

Uh huh. You don’t think pay and benefits to public employees played a part at all?

And why the hell should they work for free?

They shouldn’t, but Stockton’s pension liabilities, benefits and employee base had been incompetently mismanaged for quite some time.

It’s closer to the Bay Area. About the same as Sacramento, but I’ll wager houses are cheaper in the former. I’ve heard of some crazy bastards who commute.

In most of these “crappy city” lists recently though, Stockton is a footnote behind Bakersfield and Fresno and Modesto.