San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 22nd, 2011
Updated: Kyle, Buda area now more populous than San Marcos, census says

The population of San Marcos within the city limits is still greater than Kyle and Buda’s combined population (see chart). But the two corridor cities now outpace the county seat in total population when nearby unincorporated areas are included in the figures.

City 2000 2010 % growth
San Marcos 34,733 44,894 29.25
Kyle 5,314 28,026 427.21
Buda 2,404 7,295 203.45
Wimberley* N/A 2,626 N/A
Dripping Springs 1,548 1,788 15.5
Uhland 386 1,014 162.69
Mountain City 671 648 -3.42
Neiderwald 584 565 -3.25
City of Hays 233 217 -6.86
Hays County total 97,589 157,107 60.99

» SEE ALSO | The List: Central Texas city census comparison

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau
*NOTE : Wimberley was unincorporated in 2000

UPDATED 4:23 p.m. FEB. 22:

Mayor Daniel Guerrero, who before his election chaired the city’s Complete Count committee, said in a written statement, “We are surprised at the number when compared to our own calculations and the projections given to us by the Census Bureau and other agencies that monitor population counts. We will analyze the results to see how they arrived at this figure and to determine the impact on our community. We want to be proactive in our response since Census numbers will play a critical role in planning for our future as well as in regional planning over the next ten years.”

After the Mercury’s story was posted this afternoon, the city of San Marcos spokesperson sent the following statement:

San Marcos has a 2010 population of 44,894 with 18,179 housing units, a 29.25% increase over 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The count is nearly 10,000 fewer people than projected by the Census Bureau, Texas State Data Center, and city planners in recent years.

San Marcos’s official population in 2000 was 34,733. Since then, population estimates by the City Development Services Department grew to 44,769 in 2004, to 47,069 in 2006, to 50,371 in 2008, and the most recent estimate of 53,023 on January 1, 2011. The Census Bureau’s own estimates showed San Marcos population numbers of 45,059 in 2004; 48,443 in 2006; 52,233 in 2008 and 53,205 in 2009.

The Texas State Data Center estimated a population of 55,678 in July 2009 and 56,563 in January 2010.

The city has based its estimates on the number of single and multi-family housing units, persons per household, occupancy rates and addition of territory to the city limits. Texas State University students living both on and off campus in San Marcos are counted as part of the local population in both the census count and the city estimates.

“We will review the numbers and determine what impact being under 50,000 people might have on our programs,” City Manager Jim Nuse said. “50,000 is a tipping point for a variety of grant programs and regulatory requirements for cities.”



The landscape of Hays County along the Interstate 35 corridor has shifted dramatically in the last decade, as thousands of new homes sprang out of rural cow pastures like bluebonnets after the first spring rain.

Long-awaited data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau finally puts hard numbers on that staggering growth. Between 2000 and 2010, Hays County’s population grew from less than 100,000 to 157,000, an increase of almost 61 percent.

Reflecting the demographic shifts of the nation as a whole, that growth was clustered around the transit artery of Interstate 35, as commuters sought affordable suburban homes that still allowed them relatively quick access to Austin jobs.

Nowhere were the changes more seismic than the city of Kyle, which added 22,702 new residents onto the original township of 5,300, a growth rate of 427 percent, for a total population of 28,016.

For city leaders, the sudden influx represented both opportunities and deep challenges throughout the last decade. Those new residents placed extraordinary demands on a system of infrastructure – roads, water supply, wastewater lines – designed to accommodate a sleepy ranching community, rather than a suburban boom town.

En route to Austin jobs, thousands of new commuters steered their cars out of freshly-poured driveways in subdivisions such as Plum Creek and Steeplechase, and onto a street grid built around the twisting property lines of defunct farms. Early in the decade, realizing that they wouldn’t have the water to supply all the new homes already in the pipeline, councilmembers frantically enacted a moratorium on new development.

The city of Buda also saw tremendous growth. In 2000, with a population of 2,404, an established resident could feasibly expect to recognize most of the faces in line at the post office or Buda Grocery. By 2010, the city’s population had increased by more than 200 percent to 7,295, with many of the new residents buying freshly-built homes in subdivisions like Cullen Country and Garlic Greek.

The regional population of the combined Buda-Kyle area now outnumbers the county seat by almost 11,000. San Marcos grew nearly 30 percent in the last decade, reaching a population of almost 44,894. The city has been claiming 50,000 residents since July 2007 and a figure to that effect even appears on city limits signs.

Nevertheless, San Marcos maintains a comfortable population lead of nearly 10,000 over Buda and Kyle combined – at least within city limits.

However, the Buda and Kyle Census County Division (CCD) — a measurement that includes residents outside of the boundaries of the two municipalities in neighborhoods such as Green Pastures to the east and Ruby Ranch to the west — hit 66,181 in 2010, more than double the 2000 CCD population of 29,000.

Meanwhile, the San Marcos CCD — an area that includes unincorporated Willow Creek, large residential areas off Lime Kiln and Hilliard roads other outlying neighborhoods in addition the city limits — grew from 45,209 in 2000 to 55,314 in 2010. The city of San Marcos proper showed a 2010 population of 44,894 compared to 34,733, a 29.25 percent growth rate.

Within city limits, Dripping Springs saw just 15 percent growth, adding 240 residents for a total population of 1,788. Wimberley, which wasn’t incorporated during the 2000 census, finished the decade at 2,626 residents.

However, the combined population of the Dripping Springs-Wimberley CCD experienced growth of nearly 50 percent, with more than 12,500 new residents bringing the total regional population to 35,612.

The city of Uhland grew 162 percent, from 386 to just over 1,000. However, some of the other small municipalities within Hays County saw a slight decrease over the last decade. Mountain City and Niederwald both shed about three percent of their population, losing 23 and 19 residents, respectively, while the City of Hays lost 16 residents, for a decrease of almost seven percent.
Empty nests may be to blame for the declines – the three small towns have some of the smallest proportions of residents under the age of 18.

Just 14 percent of residents in the college town of San Marcos were under the age of 18, the smallest proportion in the county.
Meanwhile, the fastest growing communities of Buda and Kyle are also some of the youngest, as families with young children turned to the affordable starter homes of northeastern Hays County. More than one-third of Kyle’s residents are under the age of 18, compared to about 25 percent in the county as a whole and 27 percent in the state.

In the last decade, those children have swarmed into the Hays Consolidated Independent School District, more than doubling the student population from about 7,000 to nearly 16,000 and resulting in a flurry of new school construction funded by bond debt. Though growth slowed slightly through the recession years, current projections show that the district will exceed 20,000 students midway through the decade, said Superintendent Jeremy Lyon.

“It is dependent on the economy, but you’ve got a significant number of homebuilders who want to build here and open new subdivisions,” Lyon said. “Just as soon as they can, they will start building those homes and the families will continue to come to the school district.”

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17 thoughts on “Updated: Kyle, Buda area now more populous than San Marcos, census says

  1. Wow. That is a significant difference, for a number of reasons. For Kyle to have added more than twice the number of people that we did is very significant. I’m actually stunned.

  2. It looks like New Braunfels blew past us. In 2000, both cities were nearly the same size. Now, New Braunfels is larger by 13,000 people.

    I know that a lot of students reportedly commute to Texas State, but it is difficult to look at their enrollment numbers, which are up almost 13,000 in 10 years, and wonder if San Marcos actually saw *any* appreciable growth in the last decade, outside of what the university drove.

    The numbers really are kind of staggering to think about.

  3. My head is still spinning, too, Ted. This is the result of having a vocal portion of the citizenry oppose any and all development, especially higher-end housing. What you get are apartment mega-complex slums along the interstate.

    There are no growthers in San Marcos and they’re clearly winning.

  4. I guess I just don’t remember a whole lot being successfully opposed.

    I certainly agree with you (I think) that what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

  5. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if development is opposed “successfully” in terms of city council and p&z votes. Investors, i.e. capitalist pigs like me, see their buddies getting bloodied up and put on the rack for wanting to put money into the community, and, yes, make money off the community. They simply chose to put their money somewhere else.

  6. My first sarcastic question for everyone is, how is this even surprising?

    The school district has seen little to no growth in the past decade. The high school went from 5A to 4A to 5A because of the ‘minimum’ requirement for enrollment decreased and because the one hundred or so students from the jewel of the SMCISD, The Phoenix Academy were finally counted in the snapshot total for SMHS enrollment figures. That should have been the FIRST sign that their was a growth problem in the SMCISD to even the most casual observer.

    Why has our school district seen no growth over the past 10 years? It’s a PERCEPTION problem. Laugh out loud.

    Patty Shafer is making a reported $1500.00/day as Interim Superintendent. One trustee spoke up during last night’s board meeting asking why a member of the athletic coaching staff was being reassigned only to be corrected by Mr. Abild who said it was an instructional coach at the high school. (Thankfully this trustee is concerned about the athletic programs enough to ask questions – did that same trustee ask why art and GT teachers were being reassigned? NO) Regarding the FAST Study conducted by the state comptrollers officers, Board President Kathy Hansen said, “I’m not too concerned about it. I’m concerned about getting the best education for our students.” Will please someone tell Kathy Hansen and I what the study was indicating if not, “we are spending too much and getting too little?”

    The list goes on and on and the missteps made by a majority of the school board continues to happen on a monthly basis. I suggest that someone raise some cain and throw their hat in the ring during the upcoming school board elections. District One, District Two, and District Three are all up for grabs this May.

    Before any of you suggest that I file for a place on the ballot let me assure that I will some day soon. But because I do not currently live in the previously listed trustee districts, my hands are tied and I must wait until a later time.

  7. Money Bags, speculating that developers are not showing up, based on our track record of approving just abount anything a developer has asked for, seems to be a bit of a stretch.

  8. I also don’t see how opposition to apartments, from residents pleading for more single-family development, would somehow keep single-family developers away, or encourage more apartments, which is what we keep getting, even far, far from the interstate.

  9. SMHS Alumnus, you raise valid points. I suspect that our woes are a combination of not so good schools, few jobs, and little protection for homeowners/neighborhoods.

    Of course, anyone is welcome to disagree with me. I am sure that some will be able to make a case that people want to buy a home next to an apartment complex, work at the outlet mall and send their kids to a school district with low graduation rates and appalling college-readiness for graduates.

  10. It’s hard for a city to grow if there is constant resistance to growth in the form of public outcry toward every form of development. I have lived in several cities in texas and throught the U.S. and San Marcos takes the cake for stifling residential growth. I’m not for uncontrolled development, the likes I’ve seen in other parts of the country, but you can not be the father that runs every suitor off to one day stand in disbelief that your daughter never married.

    If you look at the past 10 years of residential building permits issued north and south of San Marcos you will see that 10 times as many were issued there than in San Marcos. What does that say about our community? To be honest, I’m not sure. I do know that the public school system, jobs and opportunity, and the quality of life are huge contributors to ones decision to live in a certain location.

    My family chose to live here because of the location between two larger cities, the river, and the small town feel. To me San Marcos has so much to offer, but can’t figuer out how to offer it.

  11. The opposition has not been against higher end housing, it has been against apartments. The most telling thing to me is the small number of persons under the age of 18 in San Marcos. That tells me families with children are staying away. Why is that?

  12. Ms. Silence, there are countless reasons why I would like to live in San Marcos, rather than Austin, San Antonio, or anywhere else on the planet, but would still like to see San Marcos grow. Not the least of which, is my selfish desire to have more local career options some day. I’d also love the same for my fellow citizens.

    I know that there are people who would love nothing better, than for San Marcos to remain relatively unchanged as time goes by. I’m not one of them. To me, that feels like stagnation. I would like to see us grow, but to me, growth means improvement and advancement, not just expansion.

    As I said elsewhere, anything which would attract people who are choosing to buy homes in neighboring cities (better schools, better jobs, quieter neighborhoods, whatever), would also likely make things a little nicer for those of us who have already invested in this community.

  13. @Larry… as a parent of a 2.5 yr old I can tell you exactly why you don’t see families moving into San Marcos. San Marcos ISD has a horrible reputation. Hays Co. especially the schools on the west side of I35 have an excellent reputation and it’s a mere 10 minute drive down the interstate.

  14. Why is that? was a rhetorical question. I don’t have kids in school, and at this stage of my life it is doubtful I will, however I know several people through the years who have enjoyed living in San Marcos until their children got to school age, or at least were approching high school age, and then got out. Some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the SMCISD are not in San Marcos, indeed they are not even in Hays County.

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