INDUSTRY — The question of just how many people live in this eastern San Gabriel Valley city has been answered, sort of.
It's a lot fewer than 707 and a little more than 411.
The answer came after months of research by a City of Industry business group, the state Department of Finance's population research unit and the U. S. Census Bureau.
"We think we've finally got it resolved," said Elizabeth Hoag, manager of the state population research unit in Sacramento.
The question was put to Hoag a year ago when the business group, Industry Civic Planning Assn., challenged estimates by local officials that the city's population stood at 707, up from the 1980 census figure of 663.
The group's consultant said aerial photographs of the city and housing documents indicated an overcount of more than 300 people.
The consultant implied that city officials had inflated the figure to raise the local tax rate and garner a yearly windfall of $11,000 in state cigarette and gasoline surcharges, both of which are awarded to localities based on population.
Did Not Embellish Figures
But while determining that an overcount occurred, Hoag's office discounted the notion that city officials purposely embellished the figure. Instead, the state agency handed over the evidence to the Census Bureau and requested a recount.
That recount found that in 1980 the Census Bureau mistakenly counted a shopping center in town as a 72-unit housing tract, resulting in the addition of 252 residents.
With an incorrect base population, Hoag said, updates by the city and the state population unit inevitably were in error.
However, the president of the business group, W. W. Shepherd, still believes that city officials knew of the overcount and continued to use the inflated figure.
"This is a small city and officials are well aware of any real population growth, no matter how small," Shepherd said. "It was obvious to every businessman in town that the city hadn't grown and didn't have 707 residents."
Hoag called the entire matter a "tempest in a teapot." Still, a final figure awaits further research by the state agency.
"It's probably around 415," she said.