DUBLIN -- When Mei Ting and her husband open E Sushi four years ago, they were one of a handful of Japanese restaurants that called Dublin home.
The Walnut Creek couple was drawn to the area because it was an untapped market. "We looked in the area and there were not a lot of (Japanese) restaurants," Ting said. "Now there are a lot."A Yelp search showed that Dublin now has nine eateries specializing in Japanese cuisine -- and for good reason.
According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday, the Tri-Valley, including Dublin, had the greatest Asian population growth increase in the East Bay.
The Asian population in Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon increased by 160 percent, from 25,232 to 65,575. The state's overall Asian population grew by 31 percent over the past decade to reach 4.8 million. Dublin's Asian population grew by 297 percent from 3,101 in 2000 to 12,321 in 2010. It had the largest increase in the Asian population in the Tri-Valley. Only Brentwood and Knightsen in East Contra Costa had a larger percent of Asian growth in the East Bay, with Brentwood increasing from a population of 666 to 4,051 and Knightsen growing from 2 to 28.
The Tri-Valley growth was fueled by two factors, immigration and the abundance of new housing developments that have been built over the past two decades, said David Woo, an associate professor of geography and environmental studies at Cal State East Bay. "It is quite amazing in terms of growth in the Tri-Valley," he said. "Ten to 20 years ago the (Asian) population was very small. In particular, Dublin's growth is incredible."Dublin's abundance of flat land, access to a variety of transportation options and its school system have made it an ideal spot for Asians to relocate or immigrate to the Tri-Valley, Woo said. The housing stock in the whole Tri-Valley rose by 23 percent over the past decade with Dublin and San Ramon leading the way. Dublin's 59 percent increase helped its total population grow by 54 percent to 46,036. San Ramon's housing units went from 17,552 to 26,222 and helped its population increase by 61 percent.
The reputation of the school district area's low crime rate and business and office parks also add to the lure of the Tri-Valley, said Colleen Fong, professor of ethnic studies at Cal State East Bay. Fong also pointed out that the suburbanization of California's Asian population is not a new trend. Monterey Park, just east of Los Angeles, led the way in the 1980s and San Jose during and after the Vietnam War also experienced great growth. Fong added that couples such as the Tings are capitalizing on markets in areas like the Tri-Valley and East Contra Costa that were lacking an Asian influence.
"(The suburbs) are safer. There is more room and the schools are known as better," she said. "The Tri-Valley in the last decade has had all kinds of expansion in terms of Asian malls and businesses. These things go hand in hand."The Tri-Valley is home to two Ranch 99 Markets and shopping centers that specialize in Asian cuisine and retail.Dublin's efforts to reach out to its citizens through a variety of surveys and its ability to listen to the results was credited with the influx of overall growth, said Joni Pattillo, Dublin's city manager. "No matter where you are in Dublin, you are always home," she said. "It has a welcoming feeling for anyone who wants to relocate."
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