Tuesday, July 10, 2007

County's Population Predicted To Double By 2050

County's Population Predicted To Double By 2050
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - New predictions for California's population show a tidal wave of people heading to Solano County in the next four decades.

The county is now home to about 404,000 people. That will increase to 441,061 by the end of the decade, 503,248 by 2020, 590,166 by 2030, 697,206 by 2040 and 815,524 by 2050, according to predictions released Monday by the state Department of Finance.

By 2050, Solano County could have as many people as Fresno or San Francisco counties do today. The predictions released Monday show California as a whole growing from about 39 million currently to almost 60 million by 2050.

That would suggest a future Solano County that looks more like Los Angeles than the combination of cities, farms and open space that local leaders envision today.

But Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering said Monday the projections are probably inflated. Also, he sees Solano County as having a voice in what happens.

"The real question is what are we going to accommodate," Spering said.

Solano County's General Plan sets policies for land use patterns for farming and open space, Spering said. That will play a key role in how much population the county will absorb, he said.

Growth is being managed, Spering said. Cities will likely have higher densities and will have some expansion, he said.

"I think there's been a lot of lessons learned from the Bay Area," Spering said. "We know what works and what doesn't work. We understand the effects on the quality of life, the importance of open space and agriculture."

Solano County is updating its General Plan and is scheduled to finish next year. That will help decide the future of the county for the next 20 years.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said the county, with its freeway system and location, is a desirable place to live. He foresees Vacaville growing toward Winters and Rio Vista growing west on Highway 12.

Fairfield's General Plan calls for an ultimate population of about 135,000. But the county growth predicted by the state would suggest the city will grow far beyond that.

"Fairfield will be under tremendous growth pressure," Price said.

The ultimate limiting factor for growth in the city and in California could be water supplies, Price said.

Like the rest of California, the state predictions also show a transformation in the county's population by race.

As of 2000, Solano County's population was 49 percent white, 17 percent Hispanic, 12 percent Asian and 14 percent black. In 2050, the county could be 39 percent Hispanic, 25 percent Asian, 22 percent white and 6 percent black, according to the predictions.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

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