Lee District's Population Drops

Lee District's Population Drops

Unexpected drop could be caused by redistricting or rise of empty-nesters.

Something strange is going on in the Lee District of Fairfax County. Although it may seem like it's getting more crowded, Lee actually lost population between 2000 and 2002, according to a new county report.

In 2000, Lee District's population stood at 102,504. By 2002, that number had dropped to 102,304, a decrease of 200 people or 0.2 percent.

"That's wild," said Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), when told of the figures. He deadpanned that "the lost tribe of Lee" was probably "looking for a parking sport at the Metro."

Overall, Fairfax County's population grew by about 3.5 percent during that time to 1,004,435. Every other district showed an increase in population. Some, such as Hunter Mill, grew a whopping 13.27 percent, while Dranesville barely registered a 0.12 percent gain.

Some of that change can probably be attributed to the district's new boundaries following the 2000 round of redistricting, said Kauffman. But Anne Cahill, a county demographer, has another explanation. Many of the housing units in Lee, she said, were built 15 or 20 years ago.

"In those units, as the family in them tends to age in place they tend to get smaller as the kids move out," she said. "After a while, you start seeing the units turn over and then you start seeing growth in population."

Lee's population is expected to grow to 113,658 in 2005 and hit 132,993 by 2025.

The same phenomenon happened recently in Braddock district, Cahill said.

"They weren't adding housing units and the household sizes were getting smaller," she said. "And now Braddock is starting to turn over. The older households are disappearing and younger families are moving in."

Braddock's population increased 1.37 percent between 2000 and 2002.

Alan Norris, past president of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, called the statistics "very strange."

"It seems like people are moving in here as opposed to moving out," he said. "I'd be a little suspicious of the figures to be honest."

But Norris agreed with Cahill that "there's certainly an aging population here."