Idaho Mayor explains California retiree influx: It’s the ‘small town feel’

Idaho Mayor explains California retiree influx: It’s the ‘small town feel’

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Eagle, Idaho has recently been dubbed the “Little Orange County” based on the large number of former Californians retirees that have moved there. 

A Los Angeles Times analysis of California’s main public employee retirement system (CalPERS) found that nearly 90,000 members received their pensions from out of state with many living in low-tax areas like Lake Havasu, Ariz. It also found the Idaho city, with a population of about 30,000 people, received the largest amount of CalPERS money compared to any other zip code.

Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce, himself a former California native before 2003, credited the smaller, more open feel of the city for why it draws people.

Eagle, Idaho was the top location for California pensioners leaving their state. (Photo by: Don and Melinda Crawford/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“Our town is kind of reminiscent of California 30 years ago in the sense that we still have that small town feel,” Pierce told Fox News Digital.


“They like to be able to see that open space that’s around them, around the community as a whole,” he added.

Pierce added that he believes the trend will continue to grow in the upcoming years so long as Eagle, Idaho remains a more affordable place to live comparable to California.

“One thing that’s changed a lot in the last 20 years is the cost. I mean, we used to be a lot less expensive than areas in California, and that’s part of the growth. But at the same time, it’s still cheaper than the places in California to live,” Pierce explained.

“I think one of the things a lot of people that have moved here the last four years [realized] is that they came here during a time when people weren’t on the road. They were working from home. There wasn’t a lot going on. And now, all of the sudden, they’re going ‘oh gosh, this place is a little busy, too.’ Well, no, it’s always been like this. It’s just you came when everybody was hibernating,” the mayor added.

Welcome to Idaho sign

Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce spoke to Fox News Digital about the growing California population in his city. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

One notable pensioner who moved from California to Idaho included Eagle City Council President Brad Pike, who recently won the run-off election to succeed Pierce as mayor. A former California firefighter and mayor, Pike moved to Eagle following his retirement and has repeatedly praised the differences between the two.

“I came here looking for anything that’s not the liberal, socialistic view of the government in California,” Pike told the Los Angeles Times.


Fox News Digital reached out to Pike for a comment.

One thing both Pike and Pierce appeared to agree on is the value of conservative politics in maintaining the city.

“I think if the politics or the kind of freedom that people have here change, I think that would change people from coming here,” Pierce said.

Other California pensioners praised the city in contrast to their former homes. Former Long Beach police officer Jorge Grajeda, who retired in September, moved following his retirement, citing the demoralizing political climate around his job as a factor.

Three uniformed LAPD officers standing near a tow truck

Many California police officers and other pension receivers have praised the different feel of Eagle, Idaho over their old homes. (LAPD Headquarters Facebook)

“Nobody looked out for me,” Grajeda told the Los Angeles Times, adding that he now owns four houses in the area surrounding Eagle.


An anonymous former Los Angeles sergeant also noted that most of his neighbors also hailed from positions in Santa Monica PD, LAPD and the California Highway Patrol. He laughed off the idea of missing California.

“You get over that real quick,” he said. “You put 30 years of blood, sweat and tears into the city. You don’t feel guilty at all.”

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