San Marcos booming but county sluggish

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

June 28, 2007

At a time when most cities in San Diego County are seeing their populations decline, growth in still-developing suburbs at opposite ends of the region remains robust because of continued housing development, new U.S. Census Bureau figures reveal.

Graphic:

New population
estimates revealed

San Marcos, with its state university campus and an eventual 3,400-home planned community, is the county’s growth powerhouse, posting a 4 percent population increase between July 2005 and July 2006. Carlsbad and Chula Vista, while not growing as rapidly, showed sizable population gains, according to annual population estimates released today by the Census Bureau.

The overall slowdown throughout most of the county comes as rapid gains are occurring in outlying suburban areas throughout the country, most notably in the Southwest, where relatively affordable housing prices are attracting thousands of coastal Californians soured by the high cost of living.

In San Marcos, home to the San Elijo Hills subdivision where 3,400 homes are planned, the growth rate a year earlier was double what it was between 2005 and 2006.

Concerned about slowing sales, builders have started to play it safe. This year, four home builders under contract to buy 257 single-family lots in San Elijo Hills backed out of the deals, forfeiting deposits totaling more than $12 million.

“The one good thing about the slowdown is it’s allowed our streets and infrastructure to catch up,” San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond said.

City Manager Paul Malone pointed out that San Marcos can also attribute its population boom to the still-growing California State University campus there, which he said is “finally becoming the economic engine we hoped it would.”

He noted that the city has been able to handle its growth by investing heavily in roads and public safety services. It has been able to do so by tapping millions of dollars in redevelopment revenues and money generated by community facility assessment districts. (I’M SURE ALL OF SEH IS FAMILIAR WITH THIS BILL)

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