Wilsonville's growth exceeds counterparts
As is true of Portland and many of its neighboring cities, a proliferating pool of residents continue to fill Wilsonville's neighborhoods and thoroughfares.
But Wilsonville may be growing at an even faster clip than most of its counterparts.
According to a recent study conducted by the Portland State University Population Research Center, Wilsonville ranked third among Portland metro area cities with at least 5,000 residents in population increases from 2016 to 2017.
The study, which is a preliminary estimate indicates that from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017, Wilsonville's population increased by 2.4 percent — from 23,740 citizens to 24,315 citizens. Happy Valley's population increased by 7 percent — from 18,680 to 19,985; Tigard's population increased by 2.5 percent — from 49,745 people to 50,985 people; Portland's population increased by 1.9 percent — from 627,395 people to 639,100 people; Gresham's population increased by 1.5 percent, Beaverton's population increased by .3 percent and West Linn's population increased by .3 percent.
"We've seen explosive growth in the last decade it's one of the fastest growing cities in the state. We're outpacing the Portland metro area and Oregon," Wilsonville Economic Development Manager Jordan Vance said.
Among all Oregon cities, Wilsonville had the 22nd highest population percentage increase and 14th largest increase in total residents. Wilsonville's population has increased by 10,324 residents since 2000.
Vance says Wilsonville's strong school district and quality parks attract outsiders and that young and old families are moving to Wilsonville at a higher rate than middle-aged families.
"The two biggest demographics are millennials and the silent generation (those born between 1925-1945)," he said.
Wilsonville Community Development Director Nancy Kraushaar, however, attributes the city's accelerated growth rate to its young age, location at the edge of the Portland metro area — and in turn amenability for land expansion — and projects that have allowed for more residential and industrial growth. She mentions the addition of Frog Pond into the urban growth boundary as a catalyst for growth. She said the addition provided a healthy balance between residential and industrial land.
"It's nice to have a balance so that if you want to live where you work it's possible," Kraushaar said.
According to a market analysis produced by Leland Consulting Group for the City of Wilsonville, Wilsonville's population is projected to increase from 19,509 in 2010 to 28,475 in 2035 and the city is expected to have a higher household growth rate between 2010 and 2035 than Tualatin, Sherwood, Clackamas County, Multnomah County and Washington County.
Wilsonville is contemplating or initiating a bevy of projects to account for the growing population.
Wilsonville lacks undeveloped industrial land and an incoming project to add the Coffee Creek Industrial Area will provide additional room for incoming businesses. Vance says the project could add 1,800 jobs.
And as far as residential development, filling out the Villebois neighborhood, which is currently two-thirds developed, as well as housing infrastructure in Frog Pond West, which was approved by City Council in July and will provide 181 acres and 1,700 homes west of Stafford Road and north of Boeckman Road, will create more space for increased density. Extending Frog Pond south and east to the urban growth boundary would also add ample space.
Kraushaar says current growth floods into the Villebois neighborhood and imagines growth will flock to Frog Pond once the Villebois neighborhood is filled.
Wilsonville is one of many Oregonian cities facing a population influx. Net migration has spiked Oregon's population by 200,000 since 2012, according to the PSU study. And according to the United Van Lines National Movers Study, Oregon had the third highest inbound migration in 2016 — behind South Dakota and Vermont.
And as the PSU study notes, migration — rather than a higher birth rate and lower death rate — is the primary culprit of population proliferation in Oregon.
The study reads: "Due to an aging population and declining birth rates, natural increase now contributes less to Oregon's population growth than at any time since the 1930s."
In part to pay for new developments that address population density, Wilsonville increased its system development charges, which are fees to developers, from $7,695 to $11,760 per single family home in June.
Population increases lead to congestion. And Wilsonville's placement next to Interstate 5, which has seen an influx of traffic in recent years, exacerbates this issue. A potential project to improve the Boeckman Bridge, the addition of an auxiliary lane on the edge of I-5 South between Wilsonville Road and Charbonneau or the Canby-Hubbard exit, a third lane onto the I-5 South on-ramp, a new northbound lane at the Old Town Square intersection as well as the completed Barber Street Bridge could alleviate such issues, according to Kraushaar.
"Wilsonville's always been very careful of making sure we know what our transportation needs are going to be as
the city grows," Kraushaar said.
Population increases also flood the Wilsonville-West Linn School District. Lowrie, Boeckman Creek and Boones Ferry primaries, as well as Wilsonville High School have all experienced increased enrollment in recent years.
To account for new developments and population booms, the district could continue to open up more schools.
The district opened Meridian Creek Middle School this year in part due to expected growth in the Frog Pond area, according to Wilsonville-West Linn School District Communications Director Andrew Kilstrom. The school's opening alleviated crowding at Inza R. Wood Middle School — decreasing enrollment from 809 students to 555 between 2016 and 2017.
Wilsonville High School's enrollment is currently far from capacity but Kilstrom says the district has discussed adding a new high school in Wilsonville eventually — though it's not definitive and would likely not be built in the near future. However, Kilstrom says a new primary school in the Frog Pond area is a more immediate consideration.
"The city does a great job of letting us know when they expect development," Kilstrom said.
Whereas Krashaar is measured in her prognostication of Wilsonville's future growth, Vance is more bullish.
"Given the location and community here and quality of life, I think we will continue to see a lot of growth in Wilsonville," Vance said.