Sound Off: Bad math equals bad growth

  • Saturday, August 25, 2007 11:00am
  • Opinion

Figures for growth projection are flying everywhere in Island County and Oak Harbor, and frankly the urban sprawl that we see in Oak Harbor is based on bad math practices.

Projections given from the Office of Financial Management and those agencies and developers, etc., that use those figures are based on combining two separate groups of factual records. They used the 2000 census figures as their starting point but then they totally ignored the information (actual population records) that came from the comparison of population growth from those records. They did take the 2.52 average household census number, and then used it as a multiplier for a different set of records (from which they produced the 2025 projections). The second set of records were not population records, but permit applications approved in Island County. Permits do not equal population!

They then called these permits a permit population number and translated that for the public into a huge population growth of 107,123 in the year 2025. This is bad math any way you look at it.

In 1990 the Oak Harbor UGA population was 17,176. In 2000 it was 19,795, which was an increase of 2,619 persons. At the same time our unincorporated area was 17,416, and decreased to 14,942 for a difference of 2,474 persons. This meant an overall increase in Oak Harbor’s population from 1990 to 2000 of 145 people. This is all factual information.

What it also shows is that the overall population increase in Oak Harbor did not come from new people moving into the area, but movement locally primarily between the UGA and the unincorporated areas.

Not only are we sprawling, but we also have a transitory population in the Navy and seasonal families. Our figures are fairly consistently in flux because of our unique military population but figures are not showing a huge population explosion in Island County or in Oak Harbor.

Our current population number as of 2007 is 22,690 which is a difference of 2,895 persons over the last 7 years since the 2000 census. Again this number is consistent with what occurred in the UGA and unincorporated areas between 1990 and 2000 — again no huge population explosion.

There is a huge explosion in permits issued for building, however. They went back to the year 1999 and began multiplying yearly all of the permit numbers by 2.52 and adding that figure to our population projections yearly. Beginning in 2006, they began also projecting the number of permits (not using actual permit numbers). They chose an average figure of 560 permits per year, and then multiplied 560 by 2.52 for a yearly figure of 1,411 permits. Every year from 2006 through 2025 they are adding the 1,411 to our projected population numbers and annually inflating our population using permit numbers which they themselves inflated through bad math.

Do you realize that at this rate, if the actual population only grows by about 145 persons over a 10-year period, that by the time 107,123 permits are issued (which I hope someone stops this craziness before it could ever reach that level!), that we will have been permitting at a level of four-to-five houses per every man, woman and child that lives in Oak Harbor?

We have elected officials that are to be on top of these things. Maybe a math workshop is in order here.

Oak Harbor resident Clairann Haney works for the postal service and was a recent candidate

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