Posted: 3/13/2001 8:35:36 AM EDT
Tuesday, March 13, 2001
Deep in the Heart of Texas, the Popular Destination Is Suburbia
Census: The state's population is shifting from its rural tradition. And
it's now nearly 30% Latino.
By HECTOR TOBAR, Times Staff Writer
SUGAR LAND, Texas--The Lone Star State has become a place ever more
divided by great stretches of highway and fortune, booming in both glitzy
high-tech suburbs and ramshackle border colonias, while its old cattle
towns lose people and influence.
That, accompanied by a surge in Latino residents that surprised even
Latino leaders, is the portrait of Texas that emerges from figures
released Monday, among the first detailed numbers made public by the
Census Bureau from its nationwide count of the American people.
Famous for all things big, Texas became really grande in the 1990s as
only the second state to surpass 20 million people. And it added a
staggering 2,018,310 Latino residents, a leap of 47% in a decade, making
"Tejanos" nearly a third of the state's population.
As such, the changes in Texas offer a preview of the likely census
report on California due out next week. And they reflect national trends:
The Census Bureau reported Monday that 3 in 10 Americans are now members
of minority groups, mostly because of rapid growth in the country's Asian
and Latino populations.
For Texas, these big numbers are changing the political flavor: The
growth concentrated in its suburbs promises to boost the Republicans'
ascendancy across the state. At the same time, it puts great pressure on
the state and its local governments to educate and house and provide basic
infrastructure for the swelling communities.
Latinos became the largest ethnic group in the state's two largest
cities, Dallas and Houston, for the first time.
"There are, in a sense, two Texases now," said Steve Murdock,
director of the Texas State Data Center. "Just like there's two nations."
Demographers predict that as early as 2005, whites will no longer be
a majority in Texas and that the state will become the fourth with no
ethnic or racial majority. The others are California, New Mexico and
Hawaii. The suburban version of the new Texas can be found in the
outskirts of Houston, Dallas and Austin, where many cities have doubled or
tripled in population over the last decade, growth fueled in part by the
success of computer companies such as Dell, Compaq and Texas Instruments.
The population of the Austin suburb of Cedar Park, for example,
increased by more than 400%.
And Sugar Land, a teeming suburb built on former horse pastures and
sugar cane fields outside Houston, helped drive a 57% leap in the
population of surrounding Fort Bend County.
"And it's not going to stop any time soon," said Louis Garvin of the
Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. "We're building the elementary schools, the
middle schools and the high schools just as fast as we can."
Fort Bend County also has a satellite campus of the University of
Houston in the works.
Sugar Land, once the center of vast cane plantations, now draws
thousands of baby boomers each year to a cookie-cutter landscape of wide
residential streets and faux ranch homes built around artificial rivers
and lakes. Billboards advertise new housing developments with names like
"First Colony" and "New Territory." Others tout the future site of "the
cool, new Sugar Land Town Square," the city's new downtown, to be built
completely from scratch on what is now pasture.
"It's just unbelievable," Garvin said of the growth. "If we can keep
pouring enough concrete to build the freeways, we'll keep the people
coming out there."
Rising from another green pasture is the 2-week-old Wal-Mart
Supercenter, where twentysomething Alex Morales has his first-ever job as
a cashier. "Everything here is brand new," he said, referring to the
Around the fringes of Sugar Land are a few surviving symbols of the
old Texas: scattered horse farms and the towering silos of the Imperial
Sugar mill, looming over yet another cluster of new homes.
Despite a recent boom in its Oil Patch, the slow decay of rural Texas
is plain to see in the population figures released Monday.
In all, 28 of Texas' 254 counties lost population in the last decade.
The overwhelming number of those counties, said Murdock of the state data
center, were in rural west Texas in the state's panhandle region. Pampa,
east of Amarillo in the panhandle, lost 56% of its population.
State Rep. Delwin Jones of Lubbock expects rural Texas will lose five
seats in the 150-member Legislature when the committee he chairs begins to
draw new district boundaries later this month.
When Jones was first elected to the state's House of Representatives
back in 1965, "it was basically a rural Legislature," he said. Now it's
dominated by big-city politicians. And Jones, elected as a Democrat, has
since become a Republican.
Houston and Dallas seem likely to gain state and local districts in
their Latino neighborhoods. In Harris County, which makes up most of
metropolitan Houston, Latinos displaced blacks as the largest minority
The 47% surge in the Latino population caught many Latino leaders by
"We're already under siege for services," said Gilbert Moreno of the
Houston-based Assn. for Advancement of Mexican Americans. "We're the
largest provider of adult literacy services in the city and we're out of
room. It makes you wonder how we will continue to serve a population that
is growing at an unprecedented rate."
Growth was even faster in traditionally Latino communities along the
Laredo, founded in 1755, is at once one of the oldest communities in
the United States and one of its fastest-growing.
Figures released Friday showed the Laredo metropolitan area had grown
45% since 1990.
Throughout Texas, much of the growth is made up not just by Latino
immigrants, but also by millions of domestic migrants, including many
transplanted Californians, demographers say. "I wasn't born in Texas,"
reads one popular bumper sticker, "but I got here as fast as I could."
Texas will gain two seats in Congress. Most observers agree at least
one of the new seats will be carved out of the suburbs north of Dallas--a
place analogous to California's Inland Empire, which is expected to be the
site of the Golden State's one additional congressional seat.
The second Texas seat may be carved along the corridor between Austin
and San Antonio, or perhaps along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande
In all likelihood, the seats will be won by Repub
* * *
How Texas Is Changing
The map shows percentage change in population by county, with the
greatest increase shown in black.
* * *
Change in total state population, 1990-2000:
* * *
Race and ethnicity:
3.0% Other/ Multiple Race**
2.7% Asian, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander*
0.3% Native American*
* * *
**Non-Hispanic and Hispanic
***Hispanic-White and Hispanic-Other
* * *
Source: Census Bureau, 2000 Census figures; data analysis by RICHARD
O'REILLY/Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
To the new TX faces: Welcome!!!
Warning to migrating Californians:
I tell you what, here in Texas we eat Beef, and a lot of it, we drink plenty of Beer, if it ain't Beef it's Fried, we smoke Cigarettes, we drive Big Cars and Trucks and we LOVE our Guns- DO NOT -REPEAT- DO NOT try to change Texas. Too many Caliphonies try to mold Texas into their perfect little vision of what California COULD HAVE BEEN before it went down the cesspool.
Show Respect = Get Respect
[size=5] WELCOME TO TEXAS! NOW GO HOME![/size=5]
Moved to Texas in 1968 and I don't plan on moving again. If the wife happens to get a job offer in Kali.............I will sure miss her!!!