Real estate prices and more homeowners declaring Laguna Beach residences as second homes could account for a slight dip in the city's population.
About 1,000 fewer people lived in Laguna Beach in 2010 than in 2000, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2000, the population of Laguna Beach was 23,727; in 2010, it was 22,723. This is in contrast to the total population of Orange County, which grew by about 6%.
Prudential Realtor Kristine Torrance said the most likely cause is a combination of factors: people moving out of town to less expensive areas, and more people having second homes in Laguna Beach and not declaring them as their primary residences.
"Laguna is such a hot market," Torrance said. "It's very valuable, and it holds its value really well, so it's really strong from an investment standpoint."
Torrance, who has worked in Laguna Beach for 15 years, also said she has seen an influx of people wanting to cash in on their homes by renting them out to vacationers.
While total housing units remained flat, Census data show about 900 homes in the "seasonal, recreational or occasional use" category in 2000, and nearly 1,300 in 2010. There was also an increase in vacant housing units of about 650.
"In the last 10 years the seasonal market has been getting much more saturated," Torrance said. "Not only is it just investors, but the general public finding that they can make some extra money leasing their houses. Specifically, over the last couple of years with the economy, more people are wanting the extra income. The inventory has really become saturated."
Torrance said that across the board, the decade showed people buying homes as investments. Even with the recent burst of the housing bubble, cities like Laguna Beach — with its proximity to the beach and art, shopping and dining attractions — have maintained relative value.
Another notable change in the Laguna Beach census data is a slight demographic shift in the racial and age makeup of the city.
In 2000, the population was 92% white, and in 2010 that number had decreased to about 91%. In 2000, the population was about 2% Asian, and in 2010 it had increased to 3.6%. The Hispanic or Latino population increased by about half a percentage point.
The median age of a Laguna Beach resident also increased from 43 to 48.