By Sharon Simonson
New residents settling in the East Bay suburbs and exurbs are leading regional population growth, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of 20 Bay Area cities, Pleasanton and Brentwood were the fastest growing at 2.7 percent from July 2012 to July 2013. Pleasanton neighbor Livermore; Brentwood neighbors Antioch and Pittsburg; and Walnut Creek helped complete the top 10 fastest.
San Jose, the region’s largest suburb, also appears to have turned a corner. The self-named Capital of Silicon Valley added not quite 16,000 people, making it the country’s 11th fastest-growing city on a numeric basis. San Jose’s 1.6 percent growth rate was its fastest in three years.
The Bay Area trends echo national trends reported May 22 by The Wall Street Journal based on the same census data. Across the country, population grew in many of the nation’s biggest cities from 2011 to 2012. That urban growth slowed in many places in the last year even as the rate of population growth increased in the suburbs and exurbs.
While the Census data does not chart the sources of population growth, in Silicon Valley, all of the region’s population increase for at least the last 14 years has come from new immigrants, according to the Silicon Valley Index. The index includes both Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in its calculations.
San Francisco’s population growth slowed to 1.2 percent in the last year after expanding by 1.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. On average, San Francisco is projected to grow about 1.1 percent a year until 2040, according to public records. At 10,022 new residents, San Francisco’s population increase lagged that of Columbus, Ohio, (12,450); Denver, Colo., (14,953); and Charlotte, N.C., (18,420), cities roughly comparable in size though far less known. All three cities were among the top-15 fastest growing in the country; San Francisco did not make the list.
New York City, the nation’s largest, added the most new residents in the year: 61,440; but illustrating the national tides, its rate of growth was less than 1 percent, ranking it near the bottom of 729 cities nationally with populations greater than 50,000 people. New York has 8.4 million residents.
The fastest growing city in the country was San Marcos, Texas, which added 8 percent to its population, reaching 54,076 from less than 50,100 people the year before. Nine of the 10 fastest growing cities in the country, based on their percent rate of growth, have fewer than 100,000 people.
California’s fastest-growing city is Lake Elsinore, an exurb of Los Angeles that grew 3.3 percent to 57,525 people. The second-fastest growing California city was Irvine, the quintessential suburb, which grew 3.2 percent to 236,716 people.
The Bay Area’s Gilroy, a historically agricultural community south of San Jose and well outside the Bay Area’s urban core, also proved the trend. The community, with 51,701 residents, grew 2.2 percent in the year ended in July. That growth rate was the second-fastest in the region and matched the Peninsula’s Redwood City, which also grew 2.2 percent.
Peninsula cities Mountain View and San Mateo also were among the top 20 fastest growing Bay Area communities. Mountain View grew 1.8 percent to 77,846 people, matching the previous year’s growth rate; San Mateo grew 1.4 percent to 101,128 people; Oakland added 1.3 percent to 406,253.
Photo: J. Nava Jr.