PALMVIEW, Texas – Palmview City Manager Michael Leo has told the story of his city’s explosive growth.

The city tripled in size over a ten year period, from just over 5,000 in 2010 to 15,800 in 2020.

Leo told the story during a recent Rio Grande Valley Partnership commercialization and investment tour.

“Our mayor constantly says, we are a small city with a big heart. And that’s a great thing because it is very true. But what I keep telling him is, we’re not that small city anymore. Ten years ago our population was 5,000-plus and we had 2.2 square miles to cover. Through natural growth, explosive growth and through aggressive annexation, before they changed the laws on us, we got so much bigger,” Leo said.

The reference to changing the laws on us refers to the Legislature making it harder for cities to annex land. 

Leo continued: “Fast forward to 2020. Actually, take that back even to 2018. The Census estimates were still showing us at 9,300. We said, wait a minute. We are way more than that.”

Having a depressed population figure can hurt a community when it comes to federal funding, Leo explained.

“With the CARES Act, during COVID, we got our share funds and they said we are giving you enough for 5,300 people. We said, wait a minute, we have way more (residents) than that.”

Leo told those distributing the funds to look at Palmview’s voter rolls.

“We have 7,500 voters. How can we have 5,000 people but 7,500 voters? I know this is the Wild, Wild West but come on.”

The potential investors and the realtors in the audience laughed at that line. 

“We have like 4,300 households and you’re saying we only have 5,000 plus people? That’s an average of 1.3 per household. That’s a single mom and a third of a child. Come on. We live with our in-laws, our grandparents, with five or six cars parked outside. So we knew it was off,” Leo said.

Leo said praise needs to go to Palmview city staff for the work they did in pushing residents to complete their census forms.

“Credit to our team for working the census during a challenging time, during COVID times. You know, people were very hesitant, obviously, to open their doors the time. And I don’t blame them,” Leo said.

“But our numbers came in 15,800. We feel it’s closer to 20,000, but nonetheless 15,800 compared to 5,000, that’s triple the size and population. We tripled the size of the population. And, in essence, we tripled the size of our geographic size. We used to have to cover 2.2 square miles. Now we cover seven square miles.”

Leo also spoke about the explosive population growth in an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service at the conclusion of the commercialization and investment tour. He also spoke about retail development in his city. The attached podcast features the interview. 


Editor’s Note: The above news story and podcast is the first in a three-part series about Palmview and the RGV Partnership commercialization and investment tour. Part Two will be posted in our next edition. 

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