POST FALLS, Idaho — Post Falls, Idaho has traditionally been seen as a town people pass through, whether on the way to Spokane or Coeur d’Alene. But lately, more people are making the border town a permanent stop.
Longtime Post Falls locals are having to adjust to the growing population. One of those residents learning to live with the growth is Kristina Wayne, co-owner of My Favorite Things antique mall.
“My sister and I have been doing this for 16 years,” Wayne said. “There’s definitely more people discovering us. There’s more people to discover us.”
Post Falls’ population has grown to almost 40,000 residents at the 2020 census count. Transitioning to living with more people hasn’t been easy for many locals.
Wayne said the town is feeling the effects of growth in every aspect of life. The city’s limits are expanding, new housing developments and apartments are going up and traffic on the roads is increasing.
That growth isn’t stopping anytime soon. Post Falls Mayor Ron Jacobson pointed out several plots of county land that have the potential to be annexed into Post Falls eventually.
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Mayor Jacobson has had to adjust to the growth personally, while also helping the city adjust. He said he has not actively recruited any residential growth, instead recruiting development that will grow the economy.
His goal is to bring new restaurants, shops and jobs to the area to sustain the growth it’s seeing. But the city gets criticism from residents about how it's dealing with the growth.
“We hear people that say, ‘you've got to quit approving annexations and permits because houses are getting too expensive.’ Well, [it’s] economics: supply and demand," Mayor Jacobson said.
Also, the city approved a good portion of these developments over a decade ago. Mayor Jacobson said the city goes through a research phase before approving developments and annexations to make sure every department can handle the growth. The mayor calls it “smart growth.”
That growth is getting closer to the Rathdrum and Coeur d’Alene borders.
Wayne said driving to Coeur d’Alene used to feel further away. A developer recently bought 1,000 acres of land between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.
"I have mixed feelings. mixed feelings. Because with more people I do want to greet them and welcome them," she said.
But newcomers may not always feel welcome. Some new residents have been shunned by neighbors unhappy with the change.
"Probably if we were all to sit around and talk to each other, most of us probably share similar emotions and feelings about why you want to come to a place like this," Wayne said. "So, let's preserve it.”