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Census Glitch Undercounts South Laguna Beach

Residents are mistakenly credited to Laguna Niguel; a correct tally is underway.


A glitch in the Census Bureau's addressing system mistakenly placed some South Laguna Beach residents in Laguna Niguel, but the problem is being fixed, census officials say.

When Laguna Beach residents began responding to mail-in forms in April, the census recorded a 59% response rate for the city, 6% lower than the national average, said Joe Chavez, office manager for the Irvine Census office, which oversees Laguna Beach.

City officials were surprised that the city, which usually has a high response rate, could be so unresponsive.

"It did seem to make sense there was some kind of mix-up," said Pat Berry, the city's director of community services. "I would think people would be more responsive in Laguna Beach."

The mistake occurred when South Laguna residents were first sent forms to their old zip code, 92677, which is now used for the city of Laguna Niguel. When residents responded to this form, they were credited toward Laguna Niguel.

Mayor Kathleen Blackburn, a South Laguna Beach resident, said she received four forms in the mail.

A census worker who lives in South Laguna noticed the problem last month, Chavez said. Census officials deleted about 7,000 of these responses and have been sending workers house-to-house to get a correct tally, Chavez said. The recount has tallied a 97% response rate. An official city count is expected June 10, Chavez said.


-- (, June 02, 2000

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