POV: Nampa Mayor discusses managing population growth

Nampa City’s population has nearly doubled since the year 2000 to over 100,000.

BOISE, Idaho – Nampa is Idaho’s third largest city by population, behind Boise and Meridian. Like these two towns and the rest of Treasure Valley, Nampa is growing at a rapid pace as more and more people move there. Nampa has actually seen its population jump over the past 40 years.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1990 Nampa’s population was 29,899. By 2000, the population had grown to 54,770. Between 2000 and 2010, the population increased by nearly 27,000 to 81,557. The census the most recent in 2020 found Nampa’s population to be 100,200.

And the population has increased even more in the last two years. According to World Population Review, 108,469 people now live in Nampa.

Growth does not happen in a vacuum. Cities must adapt and plan how to manage this growth.

What will be the transportation needs and how will they pay for it? What about individual property rights, zoning decisions, approval or denial of development and collaboration between cities? What are the influencing factors in the decision-making process? What do our leaders need to consider?

This process is the focus of the discussion with Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling in this edition of Viewpoint. The following is an excerpt from the interview.

Doug Petcash: How often is growth a topic of discussion in your office?

Mayor Debbie Kling: I think every day. We think about it every day and we talk about it almost every day.

Doug Petcash: What is your view on Nampa’s current growth rate?

Mayor Kling: Well, we grew incredibly fast as you know. And it’s interesting, though, we were just having a discussion between the leaders of Treasure Valley and between the mayors, and I think one of the things that we talked about, and that I shared is that the last decade wasn’t the fastest growing decade. It was the previous two. What we are facing right now is the accumulated growth and the lack of preparation and investment in infrastructure as that growth has accumulated.

Doug Petcash: Before getting into the decision-making process, what are the challenges that growth presents to Nampa City?

Mayor Kling: I think there are two big fundamental challenges. One is funding for streets and transportation because we’re behind on that accumulated growth and there’s been a lack of funding for transportation improvements, and that’s what our people tell us. The other biggest challenge we face, and that’s across Treasure Valley as a whole, it’s not just us in Nampa alone, it’s really a regional problem in Treasure Valley, but it’s is the increased cost of living. Housing costs have gone up so much, but not our wages. Some wages have gone up, minimum wages. But it’s the conflict or convergence of rising housing costs with wages not rising to meet them.

Over the past five years, Nampa City has conducted extensive community surveys to find out what residents think of their city as a place to live, work, play and raise a family. In this edition of Viewpoint, Mayor Kling discusses preliminary results from this year’s survey. Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. on Idaho’s NewsChannel 7.

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