Woodlake 6th on list of fastest growing CA cities
Tulare County’s smallest city is also one of California’s fastest growing.
Woodlake was ranked sixth among the state’s fastest growing cities according to annual data released by the California Department of Finance this month. The list is based on the percentage change in population from 2012-2013. Woodlake’s 3.7% was only outpaced by Indio, Imperial, Lake Elsinore, Dublin and Santa Clara, Calif.
Despite the record pace, Woodlake’s population remains just 7,665, just 327 more people than this time last year. City Administrator Ramon Lara said the report was welcome news for a city looking for growth.
“We are too small to function as a city financially,” Lara said. “We need to catch up to other cities around us.”
Lara said the goal for Woodlake is to reach a population of 10,000 people. He said the mark represents a better than break even point for sales tax revenues, distribution of cost and to qualify for competitive funding at both the state and federal level.
“We have really been focused on improving our infrastructure to accommodate that growth,”Lara said.
Last year, Woodlake completed a new $19 million waste water treatment facility. It is in the process of upgrading and improving its network and circulation of water mains and is getting ready to make improvements to its downtown. Woodlake has already secured funding for its downtown improvement project which includes a roundabout at Valencia and Naranjo boulevards, pedestrian bulb-outs, landscaped sidewalks and new sidewalks on portions of Valencia Boulevard where they have long been needed. Next Wednesday, the City Council will consider taking the first step in building a new downtown transit center by approving a negative declaration for environment impacts of the project.
Woodlake saw in increase in housing to accommodate its new residents as well. Sixty-nine new housing units were built last year, most of the increase in duplexes and small apartment buildings. Woodlake also has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the County at 4.8%.
Woodlake’s larger neighbor to the southwest, Farmersville saw the least amount of growth among Tulare County cities. Farmersville’s population changed by less than half a percent, or about 45 people. Similar to Woodlake, Farmersville had a vacancy rate of just 4.8%, however, no new housing units were reportedly built in the last year.
Exeter also saw little change just hitting the half percent increase mark representing just 48 new residents. The increase is surprising when you consider there were only two new housing units added in the year and that Exeter’s vacancy rate is 6.2%, second only to Visalia and Porterville at 6.5%.
Lindsay also saw nominal growth. The City’s population increased by 0.8%, or about 95 people. Only about 12 housing units were added in Lindsay, which has a vacancy rate of 5.6%.