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Eugene overtakes Salem as 2nd-largest Oregon city

08:16 AM PST on Friday, December 28, 2007

Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. -- Size isn't everything when judging the greatness of a place, but some people in Eugene were pleased to hear that their city has reclaimed its status as Oregon's second-largest.

Photo by: Eugenelocalsearch.com

Eugene, Oregon

"Woo hoo!" City Council President Andrea Ortiz said Thursday when told that Eugene is estimated to have more people than Salem.

Oregon law requires the Population Research Center at Portland State University to prepare population estimates each year for each county and incorporated city. Certain tax revenues collected by the state are sent to the local governments based on population.

The researchers come up with estimates by looking at a variety of factors, such as births, deaths, voter registration, state tax returns, school enrollments, and changes in housing stock.

Eugene led Salem in population for several years. But in 2005, Salem's population reached 147,250, overtaking Eugene's population by 1,090 residents, the center said.

By last year, Salem's lead had dwindled to 710 residents. Today, researchers believe 1,400 more people live in Eugene (153,690) than in Salem (152,290).

Salem Mayor Janet Taylor said she's skeptical about the figures, but not distressed by them. "A city is judged by so much more than population," she said. "Frankly, as the state capital, I think we are always in first place."

She added: "Congratulations to Eugene. We will see what happens next year."

Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, meanwhile, said she's pleased her city regained second place, but, like Taylor, she doesn't think population is an important measure of a city's value.

"In reality, what I value about Eugene has nothing to do with being the second largest," she said. "I want our city to be the best in livability, in the services we provide the taxpayers, and in the way we care for those in need."

Ortiz, the city councilor, said some Eugene residents don't want the city to grow. She's not one of them. "To me (the population growth) says that we are a viable community and that we have a lot to offer, and people either want to move here or stay here because of that.

Portland continues to be Oregon's largest city by far and Gresham remains the fourth-biggest.