Population lower than urban number; city holds growth at 3 percent

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Carson City's recent certified urban population of 58,263 had city planners scratching their heads trying to figure out where they missed the boat managing the city's growth.

By their calculations, the city shouldn't have hit that population until 2006.

As it turns out, they didn't miss the ship at all.

Carson City's actual Census 2000 population was 52,457 -- a nearly 30 percent change from the 1990 Census and right in line with estimates.

But the "urban area" now measured with Carson in the Census includes portions of Mound House, Indian Hills and Johnson Lane and excludes low density areas of Carson City like Lakeview, Pi-on Hills and Timberline, said Community Development Director Walt Sullivan.

The Douglas and Lyon county areas fall along major Carson City corridors -- highways 50 and 395 -- and meet the density requirements, 500 people per square mile, of the Census' urban areas.

Carson City has limited growth to 3 percent every year since 1983, so a population number far exceeding expectations worried leaders.

The 3 percent rate is kept in check not by restricting population but by limiting building permits in the capital. This allows the city to plan growth around the city's ability to provide sewer, water and other essential services.

This year, because of further number wrangling, courtesy the U.S. Census, fewer building permits will be offered than last year. Sullivan said the Census increased the number of persons per household from 2.4 to 2.5, which affects the ratio used to figure permit numbers.

The city sold 374 of 679 permits last year, about 55 percent. This year, there will be 642 available. As of May 1, only 11 percent -- 79 -- of the permits had been used compared with 19 percent of the permits purchased last year at the same time.

Despite the projected 3 percent growth rate, Carson City has grown about 1.7 percent each year for the last five years. Sullivan said keeping the number at 3 percent, even if the city doesn't grow that quickly, is essential to developers who need the assured rate to obtain financing for their projects.


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