Avalon and Hawthorne Score Big Gains in Population


The little city of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island has posted the South Bay’s largest rate of population gain since 1980, increasing 44% from 2,022 people to 2,918, final U.S. Census figures show.

In the South Bay overall, popu lation increased by only 8.1%, well below the statewide figure of 26%. Several of the South Bay’s most affluent communities either remained roughly the same size or saw slight declines in the last decade. In cities that recorded growth, officials generally attributed the increase to new apartment construction and a growing number of Latino families arriving in the area.

Avalon city officials attributed their increase to a number of factors, but primarily a greater effort on the part of census workers to count the island’s undocumented workers.

“In previous counts, these people didn’t want to be counted and the census effort didn’t go out of its way to count them,” said Richard Callen, an Avalon city planner. “This time around, they made a special effort with bilingual information and emphasizing that it’s just a count, not immigration enforcement or anything like that.”


Callen said detailed numbers have not yet been released, but city officials believe there are anywhere from 400 to 1,200 undocumented workers on the island.

On the mainland, Hawthorne experienced the biggest rate of increase among South Bay cities, jumping from 56,447 people to 71,349. Officials attributed the 26.4% rise to a flurry of apartment and condominium construction. So many new buildings rose during the decade that officials last year imposed a moratorium on new building until expansion of the city’s infrastructure can catch up.

Lawndale and Inglewood were a near tie for third-place, posting gains of 16.5% and 16.3%, respectively.

Inglewood’s jump from 94,245 people to 109,602 allowed that city to become the second South Bay municipality with more than 100,000 people. Only Torrance, with 133,107 people, has more.


City officials attributed the growth both to new construction and an increase in the number of Latino families, who generally have larger households. The 1980 Census showed that the average Latino household had 3.7 members, while Anglo families had 2.5 members.

In contrast, two South Bay cities--Palos Verdes Estates and Rolling Hills--saw their populations decrease.

Both attributed the decline to their high-cost housing, which limits affordability for younger families with children.

Conversely, Rancho Palos Verdes posted a 13.9% increase, but the figures most likely include a number of residents added when the city annexed the Eastview area from Los Angeles County in 1983.



Here are final 1990 U.S. Census totals, compared with final figures from the 1980 Census.

City 1980 1990 % change AVALON 2,022 2,918 44.3 CARSON 81,221 83,995 3.4 EL SEGUNDO 13,752 15,223 10.7 GARDENA 45,165 49,847 10.4 HAWTHORNE 56,447 71,349 26.4 HERMOSA BEACH 18,070 18,219 0.8 INGLEWOOD 94,245 109,602 16.3 LAWNDALE 23,460 27,331 16.5 LOMITA 18,807 19,382 3.1 LOS ANGELES 2,966,850 3,485,398 17.5 MANHATTAN BEACH 31,542 32,063 1.7 PALOS VERDES ESTATES 14,376 13,512 -6.0 RANCHO PALOS VERDES 36,576 41,659 13.9 REDONDO BEACH 57,102 60,167 5.4 ROLLING HILLS 2,049 1,871 -8.7 ROLLING HILLS ESTATES 7,702 7,789 1.1 TORRANCE 129,881 133,107 2.5

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau