What happens when College Station hits 100,000?
I’ve written before about my fascination with milestone numbers. My latest fixation — shared by plenty of my coworkers — is on this little beauty: 100,000. I’m referring to College Station’s population, which is currently just shy of this mark.
100,000: When will we get there?
The safe answer is that we’ll get there soon. The 2010 Census showed College Station to be at 93,857. Believe it or not, just prior to the release of that figure, the population estimate calculated by our Planning & Development Services Office was 93,806 — a difference of only 51 and an astounding display of accuracy.
Here’s a little insight into how they track the numbers:
College Station staff primarily bases population estimates on certificates of occupancy, or COs. Not all COs, but full COs, meaning that some properties are safe for living, but still have minor issues that prevent them from receiving a full CO, such as landscaping requirements or proper striping for parking lots. In fact, there’s a very large multi-family housing development on College Station’s west side that was occupied for nearly a year with a temporary CO, meaning its residents weren’t counted during that time as part of the city’s population. But upon achieving a full CO, we saw an instantaneous population spike of nearly 2,000 people.
So, in reality, College Station has been at the edge of 100,000 for awhile — just not officially.
And, yes, there are times when properties are removed, so the population is adjusted downward.
Bottom line, with large-scale housing developments nearing completion in the Northgate area, look for us to officially cross 100,000 within a matter of weeks or months. Just how close are we? The June 2013 population estimate, released July 1, showed College Station at 98,721.
Who’s the decider?
President George W. Bush once described his management style in an intriguing way: “I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.” In this particular case, there’s no single internal “decider” at College Station City Hall when it comes to announcing 100,000 inhabitants; rather, it’s likely to be confirmed by a variety of sources: the aforementioned full certificates of occupancy; periodic U.S. Census updates; College Station ISD enrollment information; various utility customer counts and so on. While case law shows that cities have the ability to determine when 100,000 inhabitants are present, you can expect that process to be quite meticulous.
Legalese alert: Only the U.S. Decennial Census can officially determine population; therefore, cities must estimate the number of inhabitants. But even the number of inhabitants can be influenced by factors such as extended-stay hotels. Who knew?
City Council and candidates have to disclose what?
Once the U.S. Decennial Census shows College Station officially crossed the 100,000 mark — 2020 will be the earliest year — the mayor and city council, candidates for those offices, the city manager and city attorney will be faced with filing lengthy and detailed personal financial statements for public review. By 2020, College Station’s population is estimated to exceed 120,000.
Well before 2020, however, the city is able to determine that 100,000 inhabitants live here so the city council can decide if and how to expand College Station’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, or ETJ. As a reminder, the ETJ is an area outside of the city limits that still falls under certain city requirements if subdivision occurs on that property. College Station’s ETJ extends 3.5 miles beyond its incorporated borders, but could extend as far as five miles if council elects to do so. There’s no time limit or even a requirement to make that decision, but it likely will be the focus of considerable discussion with city staff, City of Bryan officials and others.
It’s worth repeating that the city council is allowed to make a decision about the ETJ when it’s determined College Station has exceeded 100,000 inhabitants because no official measurement by the U.S. Census is required.
To help you understand College Station’s estimated monthly and yearly population changes, check out these charts provided by Planning & Development Services.
According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, there are 32 Texas cities — ranging from Houston (2.1 million) to Richardson (103,000) — with populations exceeding 100,000, and it’s safe to assume a few others, such as College Station, are on the cusp. Only about 300 cities in the United States have populations of at least 100,000.
So, how do you feel about College Station, now in its 75th year as an incorporated city, joining this list?
Director | Public Communications