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Population Growth


GRDadof3

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2 hours ago, MJLO said:

My dream that will never happen is that GR, Kentwood, and Wyoming merge into one city and the unified entity works more efficiently to add density to under utilized neighborhoods. 

I lived in Nashville back in the 90s and they had a ‘metropolitan’ government where county and city were merged into a single unit.  With their explosive growth over last 25 years or so it seems to have helped immensely.  I know that could never happen in G.R.  I agree with you on Wyoming and Kentwood.  Seems like Wyoming’s struggles would make them somewhat amenable to this idea.  No?

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10 minutes ago, cstonesparty said:

I lived in Nashville back in the 90s and they had a ‘metropolitan’ government where county and city were merged into a single unit.  With their explosive growth over last 25 years or so it seems to have helped immensely.  I know that could never happen in G.R.  I agree with you on Wyoming and Kentwood.  Seems like Wyoming’s struggles would make them somewhat amenable to this idea.  No?

I don't know, I think Wyoming might be the least likely city to consider a merger.  The city of Wyoming was incorporated as a giant middle finger to GR to begin with.  They even have a separate water/sewer system.   Wyoming is also the only inner ring burb that doesn't have a city income tax.   Culturally and demographically it is no longer the conservative suburban white enclave that walled itself off from GR,  but I still think it's residents would resist a change like that pretty hard.   They won't even consolidate the 5 separate school districts in it's borders lol.

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23 hours ago, Khorasaurus1 said:

Single family homes don't pay for themselves in property tax revenue anywhere - especially not suburbs. And especially with Homestead Exemptions.

Despite the exemption, a large number forfeit it by giving up their Michigan domicile if they have a 2nd home out of state to avoid city income tax.  If you're 65 or older with a decent income, forfeiture of the exemption is minor compared to the income tax avoided.

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5 hours ago, MJLO said:

My dream that will never happen is that GR, Kentwood, and Wyoming merge into one city and the unified entity works more efficiently to add density to under utilized neighborhoods. 

I don't really see the fact that they're not all one municipality prohibiting the regional governments from working together on this issue. The only area where there may be resistance is building affordable housing. And how much affordable housing.

If the 6 major governments of the ITP agreed to a building goal and a certain percentage of that being affordable, that would go a long way. They could start by targeting underutilized commercial parcels that are served by the ITP/Rapid. The additional residents would hypothetically help support the retailers in those corridors. 

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2 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I don't really see the fact that they're not all one municipality prohibiting the regional governments from working together on this issue. The only area where there may be resistance is building affordable housing. And how much affordable housing.

If the 6 major governments of the ITP agreed to a building goal and a certain percentage of that being affordable, that would go a long way. They could start by targeting underutilized commercial parcels that are served by the ITP/Rapid. The additional residents would hypothetically help support the retailers in those corridors. 

Right, it may actually be beneficial as one area would not be saddled with all of the growth (and affordable housing concerns). Spread the growth a little more evenly (obviously, some factors may prevent it from being perfectly even, but beneficial to all).

Joe

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5 hours ago, MJLO said:

I don't know, I think Wyoming might be the least likely city to consider a merger.  The city of Wyoming was incorporated as a giant middle finger to GR to begin with.  They even have a separate water/sewer system.   Wyoming is also the only inner ring burb that doesn't have a city income tax.   Culturally and demographically it is no longer the conservative suburban white enclave that walled itself off from GR,  but I still think it's residents would resist a change like that pretty hard.   They won't even consolidate the 5 separate school districts in it's borders lol.

I think almost every city around GR, with the exception of EGR, exist as they do out of a move to prevent annexation when they were townships.  GR Township lost a massive amount of land and services from not being able to legally stop those moves the past 70 years. It's just in all their "origin stories" to never think of ceding themselves over to potential GR domination.

And honestly, I wouldn't want to be politically chained to Kentwood or Wyoming in any way. Those places feel too much like liabilities.

Walker would never chance to lose their ability to regulate development. EGR has all the benefits of basically being a GR neighborhood, without all the cons of being officially part of the city, and GR Twp. would likely try to become a city of its own before losing more land to us.

Edited by GR_Urbanist
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1 hour ago, GR_Urbanist said:

And honestly, I wouldn't want to be politically chained to Kentwood or Wyoming in any way. Those places feel too much like liabilities.

^Why do you think they feel like liabilities?  I'm not saying I agree or disagree, just curious.   The reason I mentioned those two cities is that they are demographically much more similar to GR proper.   They have much more diverse populations than the outer ring, and burbs to the north.  They aren't any where near the cities they were when they incorporated to prevent GR land grabs and power growth.   

Also it's more silly thinking on my part than anything I'd think would actually come to fruition.  My desire to see them merge is more out of a point of vanity regarding how big GR is.    As a population stats nerd my toes curl when someone tells me a place like Fort Wayne has more people than Grand Rapids.  If you merged the 3 cities you'd have 330k people in 81sq mi(Fort Wayne is 264k in 110 sq mi).  It would better represent the size of the core.   But to be clear it's all tongue in cheek.  I know it would never happen.  Don't get me started on Michigan's growth prohibitive annexation/township laws that puts its core cities at a disadvantage compared to their sunbelt peers lol. 

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I guess I just see both as massive unorganized sprawling masses that will drain money from GR in order to upgrade a whole lot of car-centered infastructure and to service a never-ending array of disconnected subdivisions that are sadly seeing a terrible rise in crime as well. I also see GR as more of a "center focused" city where our DT is a big part of our identity, whereas Kentwood and Wyoming will just divert way too much focus away from that  trying to mesh "city" GR with one sprawling mall-centered suburb, and its badly-aging inner-ring twin. 

I'm probably just rambling with this train of thought.:P

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17 minutes ago, GR_Urbanist said:

I guess I just see both as massive unorganized sprawling masses that will drain money from GR in order to upgrade a whole lot of car-centered infastructure and to service a never-ending array of disconnected subdivisions that are sadly seeing a terrible rise in crime as well. I also see GR as more of a "center focused" city where our DT is a big part of our identity, whereas Kentwood and Wyoming will just divert way too much focus away from that  trying to mesh "city" GR with one sprawling mall-centered suburb, and its badly-aging inner-ring twin. 

I'm probably just rambling with this train of thought.:P

To meet the housing needs of our ever growing population (and ever-changing demographics), there's no possible way that all of that can be met in the city of Grand Rapids. It's going to have to come from other places as well. In fact, I see the biggest fight against all of this coming from city of GR residents who won't want the added density.  Look at the whole ADU fiasco and how that was handled by the city of GR (primarily push back from residents).  But interestingly many GR residents knock endless suburban sprawl as well.  No one quite knows what they're for anymore, just anti-everything. 

What's that term, not NIMBY's but BANANA's (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything). :)

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15 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

Look at the whole ADU fiasco and how that was handled by the city of GR (primarily push back from residents)

It was supported by a majority of residents who showed up.  The city caved to a vocal minority.

15 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

No one quite knows what they're for anymore, just anti-everything. 

The currently seated City Commission exists to do as little as possible as slowly as possible.  Hopefully term limits liberate us at some point.  They aren't even "anti-everything", they are no position on anything.  They won't be there forever.

15 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

massive unorganized sprawling masses that will drain money from GR

Yes.

15 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

Kentwood and Wyoming will just divert way too much focus away from that

They could become functional cities in their own right.  Given the stalling of policy in Grand Rapids I suspect these communities to be where to action is; they are all moving to grow their own centers and have better policies, even out in Hudsonville they get it.  The pretty aggressive rezoning of other communities along the Laker Line is a good sign.

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8 hours ago, whitemice said:

It was supported by a majority of residents who showed up.  The city caved to a vocal minority.

The currently seated City Commission exists to do as little as possible as slowly as possible.  Hopefully term limits liberate us at some point.  They aren't even "anti-everything", they are no position on anything.  They won't be there forever.

Yes.

They could become functional cities in their own right.  Given the stalling of policy in Grand Rapids I suspect these communities to be where to action is; they are all moving to grow their own centers and have better policies, even out in Hudsonville they get it.  The pretty aggressive rezoning of other communities along the Laker Line is a good sign.

Sounds about right, thanks for the insight. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some food for thought: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/10/us/census-undercounted-population.html

Quote

By the bureau’s estimates, the 2020 tally incorrectly counted 18.8 million residents, double-counting some, wrongly including others and missing others entirely, even as it came extremely close to reaching an accurate count of the overall population.

Just my own gut opinion, but I believe the city of GR actually does have 200,000+ people.

Edited by RegalTDP
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3 hours ago, RegalTDP said:

Some food for thought: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/10/us/census-undercounted-population.html

Just my own gut opinion, but I believe the city of GR actually does had 200,000+ people.

Totally agree. You see very little rental vacancy in the city of GR combined with many of the empty parcels of land being used for high density residential. That equates to population gain in most instances. 

 

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13 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

Totally agree. You see very little rental vacancy in the city of GR combined with many of the empty parcels of land being used for high density residential. That equates to population gain in most instances. 

 

It was mostly core cities that were notably off from estimates.  Places that are home to minorities with a history of low census participation were over estimates ( Detroit, Birmingham, Cleveland etc.) and places that are home to large immigrant communities (Wyoming, Dearborn etc) that were under estimates.  Grand Rapids is a mix of both.   I would wager cities that have a substantial population with African ancestry were substantially under counted.   I do think GR was undercounted as well, but not to the extent larger Black cities like Detroit and Birmingham were.    I do think the city is above 200k for sure.  It's amusing how that threshold has been just out of official reach for the last 50 years. 

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44 minutes ago, MJLO said:

It was mostly core cities that were notably off from estimates.  Places that are home to minorities with a history of low census participation were over estimates ( Detroit, Birmingham, Cleveland etc.) and places that are home to large immigrant communities (Wyoming, Dearborn etc) that were under estimates.  Grand Rapids is a mix of both.   I would wager cities that have a substantial population with African ancestry were substantially under counted.   I do think GR was undercounted as well, but not to the extent larger Black cities like Detroit and Birmingham were.    I do think the city is above 200k for sure.  It's amusing how that threshold has been just out of official reach for the last 50 years. 

But GR is loosing its black population and gaining white, Hispanic seems to be stagnant…gentrification 

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51 minutes ago, MJLO said:

It was mostly core cities that were notably off from estimates.  Places that are home to minorities with a history of low census participation were over estimates ( Detroit, Birmingham, Cleveland etc.) and places that are home to large immigrant communities (Wyoming, Dearborn etc) that were under estimates.  Grand Rapids is a mix of both.   I would wager cities that have a substantial population with African ancestry were substantially under counted.   I do think GR was undercounted as well, but not to the extent larger Black cities like Detroit and Birmingham were.    I do think the city is above 200k for sure.  It's amusing how that threshold has been just out of official reach for the last 50 years. 

I just looked and the latest census estimate puts GR at 201,732. 

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4 hours ago, GR8scott said:

But GR is loosing its black population and gaining white, Hispanic seems to be stagnant…gentrification 

GR is still almost 20% Black, and 20% Hispanic.   That's more than enough of a population share to result in a few thousand person swing  in an undercount.   Looking at a place like Detroit which is 85% black, it could be 10's of thousands.

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6 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I just looked and the latest census estimate puts GR at 201,732. 

What is the estimate year for this?  To my knowledge 2021 numbers won’t be released until May.  I never checked the 2020 estimates since they coincided with the census. 

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19 hours ago, MJLO said:

What is the estimate year for this?  To my knowledge 2021 numbers won’t be released until May.  I never checked the 2020 estimates since they coincided with the census. 

That's apparently the estimate for 2022. How they do that I'm not sure. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok so I've had time to look at the 2021 census estimates for counties/metros that came out last week.  These are the first full we've seen that show the impact of 2020 and they are interesting for sure:

Around 2017 estimates that had been relatively consistent started diverging from the normal patterns seen during the first half of the decade.  The political climate of that time may have had an impact on those numbers. There was a softening of growth nationwide.  This was reflected in the GR metro as well, though it remained the strongest growing metro in the state, and one of the stronger growth spots in the midwest.  The release of the 2020 census numbers showed a fairly dramatic UNDER estimation in several states including Michigan.  At the same time the 2020 census reflected a notable OVER estimation in core cities(is your head spinning yet?). News over the past month details reports of potential inaccuracies from that census.   These estimates probably reflect a correction from census inconsistencies, but they also tell the story of 2020.  I believe what we see below is a combination of public reaction to Covid 19, government reaction to Covid 19, civil unrest in urban areas, and a work force mode shift to telecommuting.

From July 2020 to July 2021 Michigan is estimated to have lost population.  Michigan is no stranger to population loss, the difference with these trends is that it is not leading in losses.  Several states including California and New York are showing population declines that are sharper than MI.   The new trend here is that almost all Michigan metro areas have shifted to population losses.  GR metro still posted gains but they are the weakest gains since the malaise years of the 2000's.    Kent county is only estimated to have gained 72 people in 2021! In my 30+ years of being a pop stats nerd I have never seen Kent Counties growth that low.   That is a huge shift for the GR metro area.  All of the counties around Kent had stronger estimates, with rural Montcalm county estimated to have grown nearly a full percent.   With that tepid growth in Kent County I think it's very unlikely we will see growth within Grand Rapids itself.  I expect to see a decline in population for GR when the city numbers are released in May.   I also imagine the ongoing housing crunch is playing a role in this as well, with the lack of inventory in the core pushing folks further and further out.   Numbers have suggested this over the past couple of years, but it's never been this dramatic. 

The real story here are the rural counties in northern Michigan and the UP.   Pretty much across the board, counties in the northern lower peninsula posted gains that are uncommonly high relative to year over year estimates.  Ottawa County posted the largest gains in terms of raw numbers.  Percentage wise counties in the northern LP posted the biggest gains. This tells me folks are not moving out of the state so much as they are getting out of the cities.  Whether folks actually sold their houses and moved i'm not sure.  I think a good chunk of that growth may actually be downstate residents shifting their primary residence to their lake homes etc.  Keep in mind these are estimates, while models are typically pretty stable in producing trends it's not uncommon to see corrections or bounces between the years.  I'm not sure how much stock should be put into these numbers given the recent volatility in both estimates, and official numbers.   To be fair this current set of data seems to track more logically with the trends and events of the time period it was taken.  I'm inclined to think they are a decently accurate representation.  Map and regional data sets below:

16248866821_e50df4bfab_o.png.1f3906ca40f18e6c0f4f2b5faa9a67d5.png983398076_ScreenShot2022-03-28at5_40_04PM.png.bb97effa0bce431a35262defc2430896.png

Top 10 MI counties by percent growth 2020-2021:

351705617_ScreenShot2022-03-28at6_26_24PM.png.92e6560dd9aea7a1d0501865f0156e75.png

Top 10 MI counties by raw growth 2020-2021:

946693503_ScreenShot2022-03-28at6_29_11PM.png.287d8b3209c6fb4d6062d63f73afa9c6.png

Michigan Metro areas

78394108_ScreenShot2022-03-28at6_49_49PM.png.4ecb10e86da054a41a4e3582c9f46c3b.png

To put it in perspective are the 20 largest Midwestern metro areas.  More metro's lost than gained.

1477343935_ScreenShot2022-03-28at7_05_13PM.png.8a1e67bdd5ed29c65c60fd604e5a6c2f.png

This was a little different than my normal population posts.  If anyone has any specific questions about counties or places let me know and I can run the numbers. 

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I forgot to post this chart showing key West Michigan commuter counties and how they compare to Kent County.  Basically West Michigan has become a growth doughnut with Kent County being the hole in the middle. 

597581364_ScreenShot2022-03-28at7_43_00PM.png.9de63f3697bd83e6e15691bdbf767b80.png

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20 minutes ago, MJLO said:

I forgot to post this chart showing key West Michigan commuter counties and how they compare to Kent County.  Basically West Michigan has become a growth doughnut with Kent County being the hole in the middle. 

597581364_ScreenShot2022-03-28at7_43_00PM.png.9de63f3697bd83e6e15691bdbf767b80.png

Covid. I think a lot of people fled Michigan with the Covid shut-downs, for states with less stringent covid rules. Florida was a big gainer of Michigan expats. I know this from having business dealings in Florida. I thought it was merely anecdotes but I think it was a solid migration of people. 

With that being said, I think more progressive people like in the city of GR did not move out of Michigan in as great of numbers. 

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11 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

Covid. I think a lot of people fled Michigan with the Covid shut-downs, for states with less stringent covid rules. Florida was a big gainer of Michigan expats. I know this from having business dealings in Florida. I thought it was merely anecdotes but I think it was a solid migration of people. 

With that being said, I think more progressive people like in the city of GR did not move out of Michigan in as great of numbers. 

Michigan lost less than 30k people in that time frame which pales in comparison to the mass waves coming from New York, New Jersey, and California.  They are moving to Florida in droves as well.   I really think Jacksonville may end up being the next "it" city with as quickly as those folks are discovering it.  

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There are a number of factors that go into the unusual population trends seen in those estimates.

  • There were more deaths than usual in 2020 and 21, not just from Covid, but also from Covid-adjacent things like overfilled hospitals, suicide, etc. Sad stuff, but it shows up in demographics like this.
  • There was almost no immigration in 2020 and 21. Borders were closed. 
  • The decennial census asks people where they are living as of April 1. I assume the American Community Survey form does the same? So it's going to capture people living at cottages and lake houses, even if they don't plan to move their permanently. 
  • I'm not sure covid restrictions were as big a factor in people moving to Florida as weather. If you don't have to commute, but you also can't go to bars/concerts/sporting events, you may as well be somewhere warm.

That said, there definitely is a trend of people with resources leaving more densely populated places to places where there is space and natural beauty. When you can work from anywhere, why not live in Northern Michigan rather than suburban Chicago?

I think GR and West Michigan are poised to benefit from this trend, though. We offer urban amenities without the hassles of big cities - you can sell a place in Chicago and net enough to buy a condo in downtown GR and a place on a lake, and get from one to the other in 20 minutes.  Or buy a bigger, newer home in Forest Hills, send your kids to good public schools, and put the difference in cost of living into the college fund.  Or be 5 minutes from Lake Michigan, 10 minutes from Holland, 30 minutes from Grand Rapids, and 2.5 hours from the Loop. 

We just offer a lot to people who are used to overpaying and overcommuting, and now realize they don't have to do those things anymore. 

I wonder if other parts of Michigan will benefit similarly. Kalamazoo is well positioned for sure. I wonder if this could be the saving grace for the Bay Region communities. 

I don't know what to think of Detroit. Can it position itself as "big city with more space and less cost"? Or is it going to be a "worst of all worlds" situation - especially if Downtown Detroit doesn't bounce back from losing a huge chunk of its office employment, hotel occupancy, and gaming/convention/sports business for 18+ months. 

Edited by Khorasaurus1
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