Beverly Hills and Santa Fe Springs are worlds apart in most matters, but U.S. Census data show that they have at least one thing in common: Both have more people commuting into them than living in them.
They are among the seven L.A. County cities whose daytime populations are at least double that of their residential totals. The other five are the City of Commerce, City of Industry, El Segundo, Irwindale and Vernon.
Two other cities Burbank and Santa Monica also have sizably bigger daytime populations, while the city of Los Angeles has slightly more daytime workers.
"These rankings show how decentralized L.A. is," said Raphael Bostic, an economist with the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California. "Jobs have sprung up all over the place."
The results are part of the Census Bureau's first-ever rankings of daytime populations and employment-to-residence ratios, based on 2000 data. The rankings include every city with at least 250,000 people and the top 20 cities in each of six categories under 250,000 people.
Four of the seven cities whose daytime populations are much higher than their residential numbers Commerce (3.6-1), Industry (67-1), Irwindale (8.9-1) and Vernon (411-1) were originally designed as industrial clusters and did not plan much residential development. Vernon had only 91 residents in 2000, while Industry had 777 and Irwindale 1,446.
These cities have some of the highest ratios of daytime workers to nighttime residents in the nation. Commerce was the highest city in its population category, while Vernon and Industry placed second and fourth in cities with a population of under 5,000.
El Segundo and Santa Fe Springs started out as residential communities and later evolved into commercial or industrial centers, thanks to the proximity of major modes of transportation: Los Angeles International Airport for El Segundo and railroads and freeways for Santa Fe Springs. They now rank second and third, respectively, in the proportion of daytime workers to residents among cities with populations between 15,000 and 25,000.
Tourists not included
Beverly Hills never set out to be a huge center for business; it has crafted an image of a glamorous "golden triangle" for retail surrounded by miles of palatial homes. But Beverly Hills does have a major office and commercial corridor along Wilshire Boulevard that draws thousands of workers every day.
Making the daytime crunch even worse in Beverly Hills are the thousands of tourists not included in the Census figures. By some estimates, the city's daytime population approaches 100,000, compared to 34,000 residents at night.
Los Angeles only has 3.5 percent more daytime workers than residents. But that number can be misleading because many Los Angeles workers commute from one portion of the city to another.
Besides being employment centers, the cities with the greatest numbers of daytime workers "are magnets for traffic," said George Huang, an economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. "You've got heavy traffic going in and going out."
This is particularly true on the west side of L.A. County, home to three of the nine cities with daytime populations that are much larger than residential populations: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and El Segundo. "Figures like these help explain why the 405 is a parking lot," Bostic said.
Land is so expensive on the Westside that it's hard to build enough housing that workers there can afford. Even condominiums and apartments are out of reach for many.
Until recently, most of these cities have had no major incentives to build more housing. After Proposition 13 passed in 1978, the state sharply reduced cities' shares of property taxes. That left retail sales taxes as the biggest revenue stream, prompting many cities to pursue commercial over residential development.
In the last couple of years, though, this has changed in some areas.
"With home prices skyrocketing, you now have a bit of a countertrend. Cities are actually getting more tax money for this (housing) and that's more incentive for them to zone for residential than they did five or 10 years ago," said Jeff Lustgarten, spokesman for the Southern California Association of Governments. "Also, some of these cities are finding they went too far along the road of retail and commercial development."
In El Segundo, however, city officials say they have no desire to change their jobs-housing balance. "There's no great clamor in our city to add large numbers of housing units," said City Manager Jeff Stewart.
That's the problem, said Bostic. "The residents of these cities are not the main bearers of the traffic problems this creates," he said. "The folks bearing the burden are those spending an hour or two each way on the freeways to get to their jobs in these cities."
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