Census: Issaquah is home to more than 30,000 people
March 1, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
City is more diverse and 170 percent larger than a decade ago
Issaquah is 170 percent larger and more diverse than a decade ago.
The city ballooned to 30,434 people — the result of a population boom fueled by annexations and housing construction. Information from the 2010 Census released Feb. 23 ranks Issaquah as No. 6 on the list of fastest-growing cities in the state during the past decade.
The population data also depicts Issaquah as a more diverse place than a decade ago.
The city claimed 11,212 residents after the 2000 Census. In the decade since the last decennial count, housing construction boomed in the hillside Issaquah Highlands and Talus neighborhoods. Issaquah also absorbed unincorporated King County communities in large annexations.
The population remains overwhelmingly Caucasian — 75 percent, although the percentage dipped from the 88 percent recorded in the 2000 Census — as more Asian and Latino residents settled in the city.
Asian residents comprise the largest minority group in the city. The percentage jumped from 6 percent — or 677 people — a decade ago to 17.5 percent — or 5,322 people — at the 2010 Census.
Hispanic or Latino residents encompass a larger percentage of the population than during the last census — 5.8 percent last year compared to 5 percent in 2000. Issaquah claimed 1,764 Hispanic or Latino residents at the 2010 Census.
The percentage of black residents inched upward in the past decade, from 0.9 percent in 2000 to 1.3 percent — or 422 people — last year.
Mayor Ava Frisinger said the data reflected demographic shifts across King County and the region.
“It shows that we are a richer community culturally, and that we are changing as the region is changing,” she said.
Construction fosters boom
The census figures depict Issaquah as a larger city than municipal and state officials had estimated.
The most recent population estimate from the state Office of Financial Management — released in June 2010 — pegged the city population at 27,160 residents.
State demographers relied on data from the 2000 Census as a baseline, and then examined data related to school enrollment, housing, driver licensing and other indicators.
The census is more accurate, because the U.S. Census Bureau sends forms to every household and, in some cases, conducts a door-to-door count to complete the tally.
Issaquah officials attributed the population boom to construction in the hillside highlands and Talus neighborhoods. The state Growth Management Act urged cities to steer construction to clusters near existing cities from the 1990s onward.
“The urban village was something that was planned, and it was planned very carefully,” Frisinger said. “It was planned for multiple purposes, one of which was to not disrupt or change the nature of existing neighborhoods.”
Major Development Review Team Program Manager Keith Niven said the highlands and Talus enabled the city to add more density in a smaller area.
“If you were to imagine 5,000 households packed in around either downtown or up on Squak, it would feel very different in Issaquah than it does today,” he said. “It was a way to create new neighborhoods and allow for the more mature parts of town to stay relatively unaffected.”
Issaquah also snapped up unincorporated King County communities through annexation efforts.
Providence Point voters agreed to join the city in a 2002 decision. Issaquah encompassed the retirement community and about 1,200 residents in January 2003. South Cove residents agreed to join the city in a November 2005 referendum. The city took in about 3,700 people in the South Cove annexation.
“I think annexation certainly played an important part in the growth of the city over the last 10 years,” city Planning Director Mark Hinthorne said.
King County remains No. 1
Frisinger said a high-performing school district, plus desirable amenities and natural features, also acted as magnet for residents.
“People continue to say that they like the way the city looks, they like the open space, they like the fact that there is a healthy creek with fish in it, they like the hiking trails, the parks,” she said. “When people describe Issaquah, they say that it just has the feeling of a smaller city. It’s smaller than the number.”
The population boom included the Issaquah School District. The data released late last month puts the district population at 98,660 people. The school district stretches from Preston to Newcastle and from Sammamish to Renton.
The census data shows the changes King County continues to undergo in diversity and population.
The census counted 1,931,249 residents in the county. The figure — based on data collected in April 2010 — indicates the county gained just less than 200,000 residents since 2000.
King County remains the largest county in the Evergreen State, and Seattle is still the largest city in Washington.
The county is also the 14th most populous county in the United States, and has a larger population than 14 states, including Alaska, Idaho, Montana and West Virginia.
“I want to thank every resident of King County for responding to the census last year,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “These long-awaited results are exciting because they show our diversity and growth. The data will be used by the county to more efficiently target our products and services to the communities where they are most needed.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.