Thursday, March 10, 2011

Solano County grows by 4.8% - The Reporter

Solano County grows by 4.8% - The Reporter

Solano County grows by 4.8%
Posted: 03/09/2011 01:04:59 AM PST

Vacaville's population grew 4.3% in the last 10 years - among the slowest rate in Solano. (RICK ROACH / THE REPORTER)
Solano County showed a modest but slow rate of growth during the past decade -- most of it in the smallest local communities, according to 2010 U.S. Census data released Tuesday.
Overall, Solano County saw its population grow to 413,344 people, a growth rate of 4.8 percent since the 2000 census. Tiny Rio Vista again showed the largest percentage growth -- a 61 percent increase, bringing its population to 7,360 as of April 1, 2010. Vallejo, while still the county's largest city, saw its population decline by 818 people to 115,942. It ranked 49th out of the 480 cities counted.

Fairfield's population finally topped the 100,000 mark, standing at 105,321 as of the 2010 count. It ranked 60th out of all the incorporated cities tallied.

Vacaville's growth rate was one of the slower rates among local cities at 4.3 percent. The local population now stands at 92,428 people, ranking it 76th out of the 480 cities counted.

Vacaville's slower growth rate didn't surprise City Manager Laura Kuhn.

"People might have thought our growth rate was more but what's happening in Vacaville is a lot of new construction along the freeways," she said, noting several interchange revamps, the new Kaiser Hospital, and Nut Tree redevelopment that have taken place in the past decade. "That gives the impression that we're growing faster but all that construction does not necessarily mean more housing" and people, she said.

Still a modest growth rate is important for a


city, Kuhn said.
"If you ask the school district, they will say they want more because more families moving in means more students and ADA (average daily attendance funding)," she said. "From an economic development standpoint some rate of growth is good for the economy because those people moving in are shopping locally and creating customer base."

Fairfield Associate Planner Brian Miller agreed.

"I would call it (Fairfield's 9.5 percent growth) a moderate rate," he said. "New employers and merchants certainly look at census overall population numbers and rates as well as income figures and other numbers in deciding whether to locate in a city. So as we grow over time, there are businesses that will look at us now who might not have when we were at 50,000 population."

Not all of the homes built in the boom years of the 1990s, however, are still translating into population, according to the census figures released Tuesday.

Among the numbers released were housing vacancy figures and the impact of the housing crisis can be clearly seen in Solano County's figures.

Overall the county had some 134,513 housing units in the 2000 census, with just 4,110 listed as vacant, a rate of 3.1 percent. By 2010, the county had 152,698 housing units of which 10,940 were listed as vacant, a rate of 7.2 percent. Overall, the number of vacant homes increased 166 percent during the decade.

Rio Vista, with the highest population rate increase, also shows the highest percent of home vacancies in the county at 11.2 percent, followed by Vallejo where 8.7 percent of the housing units were vacant as of 2010, and Fairfield, where 7.3 percent were vacant.

In the city of Dixon, the population growth of 14 percent during the past decade had City Manager Nancy Huston smiling Tuesday, but not the housing vacancy of 5.1 percent (the city saw the number of vacant homes grow from 99 in 2000 to 316 in 2010).

"We are happy with the growth because a lot of the funding from the state -- to the extent that cities still get funding from the state -- is based on population," she noted.

The vacancy rates, she said are a result of the economy and something cities across the state are having to deal with. "And I think the numbers may be down further since the census count last year," she added.