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Sandag, the region’s planning agency, projects 1.3 million more residents in San Diego County by 2050.

This new forecast reflects a slower pace of growth. Sandag expects 4.4 million residents in San Diego County by 2050, up from about 3.1 million now.

The agency’s previous forecast expected 1 million more people by 2030. That previous forecast has been used by a host of cities and government agencies as a baseline measurement for how the region might grow, impacting planning for housing, water, transportation and the airport.

“We have definitely seen slower growth on balance — fewer people moving people into San Diego,” said Beth Jarosz, lead analyst on the 2050 forecast.

The new forecast calls for plans to house all of these people, about 450,000 additional housing units. Local cities have only planned for about 380,000 of those so far. But the 70,000-unit gap doesn’t necessarily indicate a housing shortage, Jarosz said.

“We don’t think there’s really going have a shortfall,” she said. “Really that’s because city plans tend to only go out to 2030.”

Aging Baby Boomers is the fastest-growing population in the county, Jarosz said. International migration generally stays quite stable from year to year, she said.

The regional growth forecast is the first step in updating Sandag’s regional transportation plan — including freeways and trolley expansions. That planning process will stretch from this fall through mid-2011, Jarosz said.

KELLY BENNETT

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