A Quick Opinion: Winters by the numbers

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A Winters Express op-ed column

By Charley Wallace

We are experiencing a building boom in Winters not seen in decades. Not just houses, but commercial and industrial buildings too. You can’t miss all of the new houses going in to the Northwest of Winters, whether you are walking or driving, the numbers look impressive. There will be about 650 houses built by the time they reach the edge of our city limits on Moody Slough Road. There are plans for developing a lot of the land inside the city limits north of Grant Avenue, progressing through the planning commission, also.

If you thought it took a long time to build Hotel Winters, keep watching the hotel on the freeway or the new Chevron. I think it took less time to plan, build and open the Taco Bell than it did to pour the foundation on the freeway hotel. If the developers building homes were in charge, the hotel would have been open in 2019.

Winters didn’t build more than a dozen houses in the previous 10-20 years, but we are on a record pace to build out our General Plan. I’m not sure of the date of our first General Plan, but we have been reproducing and updating the one from the 1950s all of my life. Most of our General Plans call for a population of 12,500 and would include the land inside our sphere of influence — the land we expect to build on someday, just outside of our current city limit signs.

I don’t think we will ever get to 12,500 because there aren’t as many people living in each house in Winters. We used to estimate that there would be 3.9 people living in each household, but now it is now down to 3.1. Look at our school population that declined by almost 30 percent as we aged, and didn’t add new affordable housing for young families.

The 2020 census is full of information that I find interesting. We had a population of 6,624 in 2010 and it grew by 10.4 percent to 7,115 in 2020. That’s about 1 percent per year, but I can’t wait for the 2030 census to see how many houses we allowed to be built in this decade. There were 2,319 housing units in Winters in 2019 and almost 65 percent are occupied by homeowners. Only about 10 percent of houses or apartments don’t have Internet connections.

Less than 3 percent of us consider ourselves something other than white, Hispanic or Latino. In 2000, 55.6 percent were not Hispanic or Latino, but by 2020 that changed to 44.6 percent. Hispanics or Latinos now are 53.9 percent of Winters’ population. With the cost of housing sky rocketing, that can’t be a good sign for our demographics. The median City of Winters household income in 2019 was $87,050, but if you look at 95694 in Yolo County it is $112,326.

We don’t have to wait 10 years for more information from the Census Bureau, but it gives us a good snapshot of our past and a glimpse of our future.

Stay out of the smoke and have a good week.

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