Friday, December 15, 2006

Solano Expected to Be Among Growth Leaders

Solano Expected to Be Among Growth Leaders
By Barry Eberling

OAKLAND - Solano County's population will grow 39 percent by 2035, the highest expected percentage increase among the nine Bay Area counties, according to growth projections released Thursday.

But Solano can't compete with Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties when it comes to sheer numbers of predicted newcomers. It isn't even close.

Solano County could have 585,800 people in three decades, compared to 421,600 today. The Association of Bay Area Governments unveiled the prediction at its Projections 2007 symposium at the MetroCenter in Oakland Thursday.

Santa Clara County already has 1.7 million people. That base would allow it to add an ABAG prediction of 617,400 people - more people than who live in Solano County today or are expected to live here in 2035 - and still trail Solano County in terms of percentage growth.

The Bay Area's population should grow from about 7.1 million to 9.1 million, with San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco among the hot spots, the study predicts.

"We don't take a position on whether it's a good or bad thing," said Paul Fassinger, research director for ABAG. "It's something that's going to happen, and you have to deal with the impact."

The Bay Area of 2035 should have more high density developments in places, such as near mass transit centers, Fassinger said. But he thinks the region will still resemble the Bay Area of today. The growth won't be spread out evenly. He still expects to see natural, open space areas.

Also, the Bay Area is expected to grow more slowly than some parts of California, such as Southern California and the Central Valley, he said.

In Solano County, Vallejo and Fairfield are expected to be the growth leaders, each adding close to 39,000 people over the coming three decades. Vacaville is just behind, with a predicted increase of 30,900.

The place expected to see the most dramatic change is Rio Vista, a town of 7,300 people in the eastern county along the Sacramento River. The ABAG forecast says Rio Vista in three decades should have 24,500 people - a 235 percent increase.

Rio Vista Mayor Eddie Woodruff isn't surprised.

"We originally thought we'd be there by 2020, but some of the developments have been slow to take off and some haven't begun," Woodruff said.

Rio Vista could grow to 24,500 people without expanding its city limits, Woodruff said. He pointed to the expanses of vacant land between the Trilogy subdivision on the western side of town and the historic part of the city.

Most of the growth will be single-family homes, Woodruff said. Some areas will have a mix of single-family and multi-family homes, he said.

Solano County is a little different than other parts of the Bay Area, Fassinger said. It interacts both with the southern Bay Area and the Sacramento area, with commuters going to each, he said.

While Solano County should get more high-density development near transit centers, these projects will look different than similar efforts in the more urban areas, he said.

In Solano County, a density of 38 residences per acre is enormous, Fassinger said. Yet places such as Oakland and San Francisco would consider this density too low, he said.

Still, the "smart growth" idea of high-density development near mass transit should leave a mark on Solano County.

For example, Fairfield plans to build apartments and condominiums near its proposed train station at Peabody and Vanden roads. Vallejo is planning multi-story live/work developments near its ferry terminal.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive