Del Norte County welcomes a new resident about every two days, according to the latest U.S. figures. Either as newborns or through relocation, 174 people during the past year became Del Norters. Granted, the number isn't very astounding, especially when compared to large cities like Los Angeles and San Diego. But given scale of size, they matter. Further, our low growth rate relative to other communities is a matter of concern.

Some general observations about the population stats and what they mean locally:

?Improving infrastructure is more relevant than ever before - The higher the population, the greater the pressure on water, sewer, road, telecommunications and power. Some of the systems are at their limits or are woefully poor as it is. The Tri-Agency Economic Development Corporation and the Council of Economic advisors have made infrastructure improvements a priority and worked to expand broadband, make U.S. Hwy. 199 passable for long trucks and more. We must continue those efforts.

?Business growth is more vital than ever before - Another 174 people increases the demand for law enforcement, road maintenance, a library with longer hours, and other government services. Some schools will have to deal with more children. These services are funded by taxes. Ensuring businesses are able to expand their sales base - which means more tax revenue - is key to providing these desired services.

?Protecting our natural wonders is more important than ever before - Population growth usually cuts into agricultural and wild land through sprawl. Hemmed in by the ocean and national and state parks, we've got to grow smart in the limited space available. That means making the best use of retail districts and corridors as possible, to limit driving and noise pollution in neighborhoods.

?Regional strategies are more necessary than ever before - For the quality of life that comes with a small population, we suffer diminished political power in Sacramento. Only by lobbying with other northern counties and cities can we protect our water supply from thirsty Southern California and ensure that dollars come here for our needs rather than be swiped by more powerful communities to the south.