Friday, April 23, 2010 | 2:01 a.m.
In the Laughlin area, it appears that 90 percent of the population is on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. Why is that?
— Jeff Leatherock
About 80 percent of the population of the Laughlin-Bullhead City metroplex resides on the Arizona side of the Colorado River.
The latest numbers: Bullhead City, 41,600 souls; Laughlin, 8,100.
The primary reason for the disparity is Bullhead City has more land available for development. Like Las Vegas, Laughlin is bordered by federally controlled land.
Also, Bullhead City’s zoning and development laws are less stringent than Clark County’s — Laughlin is an unincorporated town governed by the Clark County Commission.
The result is Bullhead City functions as a bedroom community for Laughlin’s resorts, which are the area’s primary employers.
“Basically, people live here and their jobs are over there,” said Janice Paul, Bullhead City’s development services director. “Most of the services are here. We have two hospitals and most of the retail ... But that’s what our industry here is, the tourism and the resort community across the river.”
Those who do live in Laughlin tend to be retirees who want to live in Southern Nevada but not Las Vegas.
Population growth in the area might start tilting in Nevada’s direction if/when residential development returns. In 2005, the Bureau of Land Management auctioned 282 acres in Laughlin. In 2007, the Legislature handed the county 9,000 acres in the area that were previously owned by the Colorado River Commission.
Planning is under way to develop that land in phases, officials say.
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