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Alhambra's overall population is shrinking, but number of Asians still growing

The welcome sign on the 10 Freeway may state that Alhambra’s population is 90,000, but that’s 6,011 more people than actually live in the city, according to 2010 Census figures released this week. Alhambra’s population is only 83,089 — and if current trends continue it will never reach 90,000. In the past decade, rather than growing, Alhambra’s population shrunk by three percent. Indicating more decreases to come, the youth population fell by 18 percent.

Alhambra is not alone. In the past decade growth in the Golden State decreased, especially in metropolitan areas. While the overall population grew by 10 percent, the under-18 residents stayed stagnant. Locally, other cities experienced similar drops: Monterey Park and San Gabriel's population had zero growth while South Pasadena’s dropped by 5 percent and El Monte's by 2 percent. 

Latino and Asian increases fueled the growth that did occur for the state of California. But in the western San Gabriel Valley, Latinos as a group often declined and Asians saw less growth than in the 1990s.

Population growth: 2000 to 2010

In Alhambra, Asians were the only group that grew in numbers over the past decade, adding about 3,000 new residents — almost equivalent to the decrease in the white population. The increases tipped Asians over the halfway mark of Alhambra residents so they are now 53% of the city. However, even though Asians are still growing, the rate is lower than during the 1990s.

An explanation for the falling growth rate is a maturing population and decrease in new immigrants. "We know that immigration has slowed way down," said USC professor Dowell Myers, speaking of state-wide trends. "Asian immigration slowed way down as well. It’s still happening but a lot slower. And the new arrivals might not be coming to Alhambra."

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4 thoughts on “Alhambra's overall population is shrinking, but number of Asians still growing”

  1. I think these numbers are mostly accurate.

    There will always be people who refuse to cooperate. At the same time, the census takers who came through my neighborhood asked questions such as: “The home next door did not respond. Can you confirm how many people live there?” and “That house/apartment did not respond and are not answering the door. Does anybody live there?”

    I can also confirm that the Chinese-speaking/low English skills families in my apartment building did fill out and return the census form. Ethnic media in the area showed commercials telling people to fill out the census cards and return them. The census takers who knocked on my door also spoke Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish.

    The U.S. Census American Fact Finder has historical data regarding the number of housing units and other demographic figures. It does not have 2010, yet, but will be updated this summer with demographic information. Once available, we can do some double checking to estimate how many people would live in the city based the increase in residential units, if 5% of SFR have double the number of residents, or other scenarios John and anonymous bring up. We can also compare the number of school children enrolled in Alhambra Unified Schools with the number reported on the census, factoring in children under 5.

    Although developers have built high density housing in the city, it might not result in a net increase in population. First, some high-density developments replaced other, older high density housing. New development in the downtown area between Main and Woodward comes to mind. Second, some high-density development was aimed at seniors, meaning one or two residents per unit, versus other apartment buildings that would house families with four, five, or six people. And third, I also notice that some of the new development, such as the medical offices on Garfield removed housing. Those projects that removed housing would offset an increase in residential housing elsewhere in the city.

    1. Good points Dan.

      And it is true that high-density housing doesn’t necessarily equate to a higher population. Higher-density development however, does make more housing available and affordable for this city.

      I just want to point out that I did not see anyone knock on my door because I work for the State up in Ventura County during the week and I’m gone most of the time. I think many working residents in Alhambra don’t work in this city so I don’t really know how effective those census-takers were in reaching to all the residents. In addition, I also wouldn’t know how effective it would be for census-takers getting accurate second-hand information from neighbors. If you feel it is good enough, then so be it. I think from an empirical perspective, “anonymous” is probably more correct than wrong.

      You make good points as well about the Ethnic media notifying citizens through commercials and bilingual census-takers. But I do wonder how effective this is collectively for Asians and their actual participation in our community. The article states that the Asian Community has reached over 50%, yet when I sit in sometimes on City Council Meetings, only a small percentage show-up. The only time I do see many Asians (though not everytime) is when I sit in on the Design Review Board Meetings as an audience and they battle it out with the Alhambra Historical Society/Preservation Group Representative over their multi-unit building designs.

  2. I will have to agree with “No One Asked Me” about not putting any credence into the latest Alhambra census count. Our population does seem to have increased more than what the latest numbers show.

    Not only are there illegal SFR conversions, but many homes (such as condos) have households with roommates (I know many) that were not included on the census questionaire.

    These circumstances are all signs of a growing population and the need for more housing (especially affordable housing, given the lack of jobs IN the city with living wages).

  3. You’re joking right?

    Do you think every resident (and that’s even not counting the non-English speaking) was willing to talk to a door-to-door census taker?! I’ve lived in Alhambra for nearly all of my life and I can guarantee our population easily tops the 100,000 mark.

    With every other structure in our city being multi-unit along with numerous “single-family” homes illegally converted into housing with at least 2 families (or up to 10 non-related tenants) — I wouldn’t put any credence into what the latest census count shows.