Clovis reaches 100,000 population milestone

The Fresno BeeApril 30, 2014 

Clovis has eclipsed the 100,000 population mark, the California Department of Finance reported Wednesday, but the milestone provides no additional financial benefits. Clovis' growth trend topped most other Valley cities, the state reported.

Clovis' population is now 102,188, a 2.1% jump from last year, and the largest percentage increase among Fresno County cities.

"It's a milestone, but it doesn't really mean anything," said City Manager Robert Woolley.

Meanwhile, the state prison realignment program caused population swings in some of the Valley's smaller cities. Chowchilla reported an 8.7% population gain, the second-highest in the state. Three of the six largest percentage losses -- Avenal, Corcoran and Coalinga -- were due to the state law that's designed to reduce the state prison population.

The state Department of Finance's annual population estimates are used to determine revenue payments to California's cities and counties.

California's population grew slightly less than 1%, about 356,000 residents, pushing the total to more than 38.3 million. A more detailed population report released in December said births outpacing deaths was one factor in speeding up a sluggish growth rate. The Bay Area had more growth than any other region, the state reported.

For Clovis, the 100,000 threshold may mean higher costs for organizational memberships.

A more self-contained city that is not part of a metropolitan area with a larger city nearby, such as Fresno, would likely see more benefits from reaching 100,000, Woolley said.

"Really, the biggest number for us is the percentage number that shows we are the fastest-growing city in Fresno County," he said. "This validates that people want to move to Clovis; that it's a great place to raise a young family."

The city's population milestone also will require some changes in using certain funding. Federal transportation dollars that would have gone for road projects now must be used for mass transit. That federal money, about $500,000, was previously used as matching funds for road work projects.

The federal money will move to the city's transit system fund, which will lose a state funding source with a similar amount of money next year. The state money can only buy buses and other large equipment.

The federal money replaces the state money "so there won't be a large influx to the operations side, but a loss to streets and roads," said Jamie Hughson, the city's finance director.

Clovis also will soon be included in the FBI's annual crime reporting statistics alongside Fresno, Visalia and other cities with populations greater than 100,000. Clovis moved from 69th to 66th largest city in California.

Fresno jumped to 515,609 residents, about 6,600 new residents and an increase of 1.3%. It remains the state's fifth largest city behind Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco.

Coalinga was the only Fresno County city to lose residents, dropping 1.6%. Pleasant Valley State Prison dropped 400 inmates from its population.

In Kings County, the only central San Joaquin Valley county to lose residents, the state prison realignment program reduced Avenal's population by more than 900 and Corcoran, which has two state prison facilities, by more than 500.

"It would not surprise me if that was the reason," said Deb West, assistant county administrative officer for Kings County. "It (realignment) is consistent with us getting additional population in our jail."

Chowchilla, where a women's prison was converted to hold men, added more than 1,500 residents. The city likely would have lost population had the state prison system not added more than 1,900 inmates to Valley State Prison. The city's population is now 18,971.

Visalia remained the state's 42nd largest city with its population growing to 129,582, an increase of .8%. Dinuba posted the largest gains in Tulare County, growing to 23,666, a 2.5% increase.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.

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