Issaquah surpasses 31,000 residents in latest population estimate
July 3, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah surpassed 31,000 residents in the past year, as population growth continues to inch upward after a decade of rapid expansion.
The latest tally from the state indicates Issaquah added 460 people last year to reach 31,150 residents. The state Office of Financial Management released the information June 25 for the period from April 1, 2011, to April 1, 2012.
State Demographer Yi Zhao said the short distance between Issaquah and Seattle is attractive to people interested in proximity to a major city and a suburban environment.
By the numbers
In the past dozen years, annexations and housing construction caused Issaquah’s population to expand by about 178 percent.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Washington Office of Financial Management
Washington’s largest and smallest cities
Washington’s 281 cities range in estimated size from 616,500 people to 50 people in the latest state population estimate. Issaquah ranks No. 36 among cities in population size.
Source: Washington Office of Financial Management
“The advantage for Issaquah is, you’re not too far, so people who want to enjoy the city lifestyle can actually live there, even up until they retire,” she said.
The state used data from the 2010 Census as a baseline, and then estimated population for Issaquah and other cities from school enrollment, housing construction and driver licensing to determine the numbers.
State officials use the population data to determine how to allocate dollars to municipalities.
Between the decennial censuses in 2000 and 2010, Issaquah ballooned by 170 percent — the result of construction-and-annexation-fueled population growth.
The city ballooned to 30,434 people between 2000 and 2010. Information from the 2010 Census released last year ranked Issaquah as No. 6 on the list of fastest-growing cities in the state during the same period.
Since the recession cooled population growth, Issaquah leaders embarked on a long-term planning effort to envision future growth.
In the state estimate released in June 2011, Issaquah added 256 residents between April 2010 and April 2011.
“For a very long period of time, we had around a 2 percent, 2.5 percent growth rate per year, and then we had some really large population jumps, predominately due to annexations,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said after the population announcement. “We know that we’re not going to be seeing those kinds of explosive growth figures.”
In 2003, Issaquah ranked as the fastest-growing city in the Evergreen State on the Office of Financial Management list.
Issaquah’s future growth is outlined in the Central Issaquah Plan — a proposal to transform more than 900 acres near Interstate 90 and state Route 900. Planners intend to increase density and the mix of uses in the area and make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Growth in the future is not likely to resemble the construction boom in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus — hillside urban villages designed to absorb growth.
“It would be hard to imagine going gangbusters like the highlands, because the market was ripe then, and the economy locally, nationally and internationally was so much different than we have now,” said Trish Heinonen, city policy planning services manager. “I think they just had a lot of their planets aligned in those last years that aren’t quite aligned yet.”
Still, the city continues to add residences. Issaquah added 235 housing units between April 2011 and April 2012, to bring the total to 14,253 housing units.
The state added 18,000 new housing units in the same period — about 700 fewer than the previous year. The largest amount of growth occurred in King County with 4,000 housing units, or 22 percent, of total housing construction statewide.
The statewide number is near the lowest point in 20 years.
“Lots of people are still cautious,” Zhao said. “We don’t see an increase in permits.”
King County added 14,400 residents between April 2011 and April 2012 to reach 1,957,000 people.
Kirkland — fueled by a controversial annexation and the addition of 31,816 people — ranked as the fastest-growing city in the state last year. Seattle, Pasco, Airway Heights, Renton, Bellevue, Pullman, Vancouver, Kent and Spokane completed the top 10.
The growth in urban centers, for the most part, is a departure from the trend in the 2000s, as Issaquah, Snoqualmie and other suburbs ballooned.
“This reversed the trend that we’ve seen for pretty much the entire decade last decade, until the economy crashed and things started to shut down for everybody,” Zhao said. “Now, it looks like the cities have become more alive than the suburban, exurban areas.”
The state population increased by 49,870 persons to reach 6,817,770 — a 0.74 percent increase, not much more than the 0.64 percent growth rate estimated last year.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.