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Placer's population popping

County ranked No. 1 statewide in growth
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County's growth rate topped the state's 58 other counties over the past five years, new U.S. Census Bureau numbers show. Census Bureau population estimates also place the county's 27.6 percent growth between April 2000 and mid-2005 as the 34th highest among the nation's 3,152 counties. Statistics released earlier this month show the county's population increased by 68,629 people - rising to 317,028 from 248,399 between 2000 and 2005.
Placer County's population has shown a steady upward movement since 1960.
1960 57,000 Placer County's population
1970 78,000 36.2 percent increase from 1960
1980 117,000 51.03 percent increase from 1970
1990 173,000 47.38 percent increase from 1980
2000 248,000 43.75 percent increase from 1990
2005 317,000 27.6 percent increase from 2000
*U.S. Census Bureau statistics
Latest figures from the bureau, released earlier this month, show the growth trend continuing - with Placer County's population rising from 306,305 in 2004 to 317,028 last year - or 3.5 percent. Ana Helman, North State Building Industry Association communications director, attributed the strong draw of Placer County to a combination of factors - some of the key ones being available jobs, lower housing costs than in regions like the Bay Area, and quality of life. The North State building association, in fact, has also made the move to Placer County in recent years. It relocated its headquarters from Sacramento to Roseville.. "Plus it's a beautiful place," Helman said. Gary Moffat, an Auburn resident and local business owner, said he made the move from Chicago to Auburn six years ago after discovering the community's quirky charm and sense of community. "There are a large number of reasons why people come here," Moffat said. "They're comfortable on a lot of levels. We have our little world here at 1,300 feet but can travel down the hill and in 15 minutes have access to so many amenities." Moffat also used the words "a beautiful place to live" to describe the area, adding that weather and access to nearby wilderness areas can be important factors in the many moves to Placer County. Supervisor Robert Weygandt, who represents the Lincoln area, said that the county's rapid increase in population has its plusses and minuses but the growth demands have been answered with planning that retains high standards and fees that address infrastructure concerns. Increasingly higher land values, lower unemployment, more jobs and greater prosperity are some of the reasons Placer County keeps growing, Weygandt said. "We've done a good job to harness the demand for growth and not let it control us," Weygandt added. Flagler County in Florida, located along the Atlantic Coast between Dayton Beach and Jacksonville, was the fastest-growing county over the past five years, with a 53 percent increase in population. Rounding out the list of top 10 growth counties are Loudoun, Va., Rockwall, Texas, Kendall, Ill., Forsyth, Ga., Douglas, Colo., Henry, Ga., Newton, Ga., Lincoln, S.D., and Paulding, Ga. Riverside County ranked second among California counties in growth between 2000 and 2005, with an increase of 26 percent. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.