Back in 2001, life was discovered in Arizona outside the city limits of Phoenix.
Fannie Mae, a federally backed mortgage corporation, made headlines that year when it coined the term “boomburb” to describe large and growing communities where much of this life existed.
“Incredibly,” one report said at the time, “some of the boomburbs described by Fannie Mae are so large they exceed the population of actual cities.”
Mesa was listed as the prime example, already boasting a population larger than that of Minneapolis, Miami, St. Louis, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati.
Even then, one suspects, Mesa would have chafed at being described as something other than a real city. Likewise Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler, which also made the “boomburb” list.
But if the semi-derogatory term was at all true as the century dawned, the East Valley’s four major municipalities have been working overtime to make sure it no longer applies.
Part of that – the part about no longer being known simply for breakneck population growth – is taking care of itself naturally as cities use up their available land and approach buildout.
The other part – the part about becoming a self-sustaining community with an identity and a sense of place – results from a willingness to stick with long-term visions and plans.
That is not to say growth is over. It isn’t, not by a long shot.
But it will be slower than in the past, and some recent population projections have been toned down in the wake of the Great Recession.
The Maricopa Association of Governments, which…
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