Small cities, little growth

By Reggie Ellis

While larger Valley cities saw another growth spurt, foothill city populations remained steady during last year.

According to estimates recently released by the California Department of Finance, only Woodlake saw a population increase greater than 1%. Woodlake's population is 7,394, after welcoming 101 new residents or 1.4% growth. Exeter saw the largest number of new residents, 110, but a lower percentage increase of 1% for a total population of 10,730. Farmersville's population increased by .6% or 61 new residents, bringing its total to 10,466. Lindsay, the foothill's largest city with 11,174 residents, only had a population increase of a single person for 0% growth. Since 2000, Exeter's population has increased by 1,562 (17%), Farmersville jumped by 1,729 (19%), Woodlake is up 743 (8.5%) and Lindsay changed by 877 (1.2%).

The increases did not quit keep pace with residential building permits during 2006. According to the report, there were 49 permits in Exeter, 34 in Woodlake, 24 in Farmersville and 10 in Lindsay. This wouldn't leave any room for natural growth (a higher birth rate than mortality rate). Since 2000, there have been 433 building permits in Exeter (up 13%), 347 in Farmersville (up 15%), 180 in Lindsay (up 6%) and 157 in Woodlake (up 8%).

&#8220You would think the numbers would be higher for these city's,” said Greg Collins, who is the city planner for Exeter and Woodlake as well as a City Councilmen in Visalia. &#8220In my opinion, it sounds more like a natural increase instead of an influx of new people into the area.” Collins added that there also might be some homes that were sold, but remained vacant as investment properties.

Population in the county's unincorporated areas decreased by 6.1% or 9,370 people, mostly due to annexations by the county's largest cities, including a 6% growth in Visalia, 8.8% growth in Tulare and a whopping 13.9% in Porterville, the largest increase in the county and ranked among the Top 10 in the state.

Despite an increase of 8,875 people (2.1%), Tulare County actually dropped in overall population rankings from the 13th to the 18th most populous county. Since 2000, Tulare County has grown 16.5% and is estimated to more than double in size over the next 50 years.

California's population grew to 37.7 million last year, making it one-eighth of the nation's population. The state's population grew almost 1.3% in 2006, adding close to 470,000 residents. This growth pattern is very similar to the population change in 2005. The state has increased by nearly 3.8 million persons - 11.2% - since the 2000 Census.

For all city estimates, there is a margin of error of 5.6%. Results are based on an average of several records including driver's license, births, deaths, school enrollment, housing units, foreign and domestic migration, income taxes and medical aid enrollments.

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