Our Opinion: Growing well

April 09, 2001

Vincent Long has started work as Imperial's city manager in a crucial time in the city's history.

Federal census results for 2000 released recently point to Imperial as proportionally the fastest-growing city in the Valley.

The city's population nearly doubled in the last 10 years and will soon be more than 10,000, if all the planned housing projects are built as planned. Imperial, while retaining its scrappy reputation at its established core, is more and more becoming a bedroom community on its edges.

While there are advantages to being a bedroom community — nice, safe neighborhoods, good schools, peace and quiet — there can be disadvantages. The major problem many bedroom communities face is lack of business. Imperial is facing that now and as its subdivisions continue to mushroom the problem will only get worse unless major sources of tax revenue, specifically retailers, are brought into the city.

Without that tax revenue, Imperial will be faced with a struggle to provide the essential services its residents need, such as police and fire protection and water and sewer services.


People move to areas such as the new subdivisions in Imperial because they want to feel safe and well-served. That can't continue to happen unless the city gets more business traffic.

Imperial is fortunate to have a couple major car dealerships that bring in a lot of tax dollars to the city. After that there isn't much beyond some restaurants, a movie theater complex and a few relatively small stores. And the next big car dealer to move into the North Imperial Avenue area next to Imperial's big dealerships will be just across the city limits in El Centro, which means Imperial will feel some of the stress of that development but none of the tax benefit.

It is the job of Long and other city leaders, including city councilmen and Imperial Chamber of Commerce officials, to rectify the business dearth situation. It may mean a lot of searching, a lot of luring and lot of hard work. Then again, that is the job of such folks.

Despite the restrictions put on the city by having the county airport right at its center, there are a few lots in Imperial, particularly along Highway 86, that could be prime spots for retail businesses. Those should be reserved for that purpose until they can be adequately filled.

Imperial is growing fast. Now is the time to assure it grows well.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles