Will "BOO day" ever come to northern Utah?

Nothing to do with Halloween, "Beat Out Ogden" day, as coined by Layton City Councilman Michael Bouwhuis, is the day when Layton could top Ogden in population.

On paper, it appears the day will eventually come. However, it may take the 2010 U.S. Census or beyond to determine officially when Layton surpasses Ogden in population.

Unofficially is another matter, and it simply depends on what statistics you go with.

Scott Carter, Layton community development director, believes Layton could surpass Ogden as early as sometime in 2009. He said his current estimates place Layton's population at 69,529. He said if current growth rates continue, Layton could move ahead of Ogden in about two years.

Ogden city officials estimate their current population at 82,000, or about 12,500 residents more than Layton has.

"I don't know if that's true or not, but it's really just a function of land mass," Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey said of Layton someday overtaking Ogden in total population. "Our goal is not to be bigger than anyone, we just want to be the best city in the country for those that love recreation."

He said Ogden's estimated total population could rise to a maximum of 110,000 someday.

Layton's estimated maximum population is 120,000 residents, reachable by 2030, according to Carter.

However, Scott Festin, who does population projections for the Wasatch Front Regional Council, doubts Layton will surpass Ogden — at least in the next 23 years.

His projections show Ogden reaching 99,000 people in the year 2030, while Layton will only move to 84,000 residents by then.

"Our population estimates are not nearly as optimistic as those from the city," Festin said.

"They are conservative," Carter said of the regional council's estimates.

The most current estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Ogden as Utah's seventh-largest city at 78,086 residents and Layton at only 62,716, ninth largest. That's a gap of more than 15,000 people.

But the Census Bureau shows Ogden has only grown by 860 residents (a 1.01 percent increase) in the past six years as compared to an increase in Layton of 4,242 residents (a 6.67 growth rate) during the same time period.

Given those growth rates, it does appear Layton will surpass Ogden one day.

"I think it is only a matter of time," Layton Councilman Steve Handy said. He grew up in Ogden but has lived in Layton for almost three decades.

He said when he and his wife moved out of Ogden 29 years ago, his mother-in-law asked why they wanted to live in Layton, since it was then mainly houses with few businesses.

"We've come to love Layton, but it was never on my radar to beat out Ogden," Handy said.

Layton Councilman Renny Knowlton, a lifelong resident, said he also never dreamed years ago that Layton would ever top Ogden.

"Layton only had one traffic light back in 1975," he said, and just a few restaurants. Now Layton, with its "Restaurant Row," has probably surpassed Ogden in eating establishments.

Layton had a population of 26,393 in 1980 when it was the second-largest city in Davis County, behind Bountiful. But it became a regional shopping hub shortly after the Layton Hills Mall arrived in the early 1980s. Its close proximity to Salt Lake City and housing affordability also fueled its growth.

Meanwhile, Ogden's population growth has slowed considerably in recent decades. As "Junction City," once the state's crucial railroad hub, Ogden flourished as Utah's second-largest city during the territory's first 100 years.

Salt Lake newspapers in the 19th and much of the 20th century gave Ogden an entire page of news, second only to Salt Lake.

It lost that ranking in the 1970s when Ogden lost more than 5,000 in population and Provo increased by 21,000 residents to become No. 2.

Even Hill Force Base didn't help Ogden's growth and development as much as leaders hoped. Ogden led the strong effort that landed the Air Force base in the early 1940s. However, once the base was developed, the two main gates to the base — south and west — ended up in Davis County, not Weber County, as Ogden leaders were expecting.

By 1990, Ogden had fallen to No. 4 in Utah city population, also surpassed by Sandy. By 2000, Orem also passed Ogden, and "Junction City" fell to fifth place.

It's also likely that someday not only will Layton surpass Ogden in population, but so will West Jordan and St. George — meaning Ogden will drop to No. 10.

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