LATHROP, Calif. — After 40 years working at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Marilyn Piernas knew her way from San Jose was selling her home and moving to Lathrop.
"Small community, not a lot of traffic mostly and the neighbors are really nice," said Marilyn Piernas, whose property overlooks a field under construction for more homes.
Piernas moved with her husband into Lathrop's River Islands development.
It's a master planned community that opened 10 years ago. It has room for 15,000 homes.
That, in turn, has increased Lathrop's surging population to 35,080, or an 11.1% increase for cities with populations in California over 30,000, according to the California Department of Finance, Demographic Research Unit.
One big reason for the growth is its prime location. Lathrop is located next to Interstate 5 and the 205 and 120 highways.
"Lots of people pass by us, and we always say we build affordable housing for the Bay Area for commuters and things like that. We've actually worked really hard over the years to start bringing some of those Bay Area businesses into our area," said Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore.
A short distance from River Islands, the Stanford Crossing development is adding 2,500 additional housing units.
When both developments are completed, Lathrop is expected to double in size to 70,000 residents.
"San Joaquin County compared to San Francisco is 46% lower cost of living and that alone is a big force for people that have good jobs, but can't afford a house or an apartment to move to areas next door," said Thomas Pogue, director of the University of the Pacific, Center for Business & Policy Research.
Former Bay Area homeowners like Piernas have lived in Lathrop for nearly three years, and she says she has never looked back.
"We put our house up for sale, and it sold in three days. So, we had to get out of San Jose," said Piernas.
Salvatore says a light rail system in Lathrop that will connect to Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, is also being planned.
If it gets funded, that project is slated for sometime in the next 10 years.