BOISE, Idaho —
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
When COMPASS Principal Planner Carl Miller moved to the Treasure Valley, people would complain about the lack of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Now, there’s one in Meridian, near where In-N-Out Burger is considering an Idaho location.
There are many challenges with managing growth, but this is an example of the benefits that come with increased growth: The region has a population base to support certain stores and events. New 2022 COMPASS population estimates suggest the growth isn’t going to stop.
“We’ve seen our ebbs and flows and swings in the valley,” Miller said. “This is definitely a high-growth era.”
For Miller, the biggest surprise in COMPASS’s 2022 population estimates is the tremendous rate of growth.
Ada and Canyon counties grew 7.8% from 2020 to 2022, from 726,000 to over 781,000, an increase of about 55,000 people.
For context, if the growth rate continued at a little over 7%, the Treasure Valley’s population would double in a decade. Miller does not expect this to happen, however.
Remote work has become much more popular during the pandemic. As the job-driven pull to more dense, urban, coastal cities decreases, Boise could be seen as a desirable place for people to relocate because of the ample amenities and relatively lower cost of living, the Idaho Press previously reported.
“Last year was our second highest year that we’ve ever had for new homes being built,” Miller said.
The rapid growth is a far cry from the post-recession years. From 2009 to 2011, the area averaged about 1,800 new residential units for each of the three years, so about 5,400 total.
Last year alone, there were over 10,000 new residential units. In essence, twice as many residential units were added in 2021 than in those three years combined.
Housing is one of the biggest challenges cities in the Treasure Valley are wrestling with, Boise State University School of Public Service Associate Professor Krista Paulsen said.
Inventory and construction have not kept up with the influx of people, which puts a lot of pressure on the housing market, Paulsen said.
”You can see that cities are really trying to get in front of that, developing plans to generate the number of housing units that are needed to accommodate this growth,” Paulsen said. “But it’s a long process in terms of being able to do so.”
Plus, the growth in the last couple years has been “really substantial,” she said.
A big driver of the growth is Canyon County.
Canyon County is also bigger than the city of Boise, for the first time since around 1960, according to COMPASS. Population estimates are from every 10 years.
Miller said the area has become more popular.
“The cities in Canyon County, especially Nampa and Caldwell and Middleton, have really taken off over the last 10 years,” Miller said. “With a lot of the affordability of housing out there as well as a housing market that they provide that maybe Ada County doesn’t.”
Nampa has grown “very fast” in the last few years, said Rodney Ashby, Nampa’s director of planning and zoning.
Ashby, who moved to the valley around 2004, has seen the growth explode in front of him.
“They were building the Garrity Road improvements and it was all torn up, quite a bit smaller, of course,” Ashby said. “It’s kind of like seeing your kids grow. You don’t really notice how big it is until it’s happened.”
There are some benefits to growth, Ashby said. For example, funding sources like taxes allow for infrastructure improvements. The more taxpayers there are, the more the cost is spread out, Ashby said.
But there are also challenges. For example, Ashby’s staff in planning and zoning manages a record number of plats for subdivisions but there are only eight of them.
However, those challenges are likely to continue in the future.
“Over the next 30 years, we’re predicting by 2050, there will be about 1.1 million people in the Treasure Valley,” Miller said. “That’s still pretty healthy and robust growth, but it’s not anything like the 7.5%.”
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