Data assembled by the city of Los Angeles shows a lower vacancy rate for homes on the Westside than the U.S. Census Bureau found in its 10-year head-count last April.
Different counting methods may be one reason for the discrepancy, but it may also mean that the census missed several thousand residents, said Greg Lipton, a demographer for the city's Community Development Department.
The city estimate is based on the number of unused utility meters, while the Census Bureau relied on occupants to fill out mail questionnaires, then followed up with visits from census enumerators.
"The form was hard for people not used to machine-graded forms, and L.A. has a lot of people who did not go to school in the United States or did not go to school at all," Lipton said.
Also, the federal census-takers consider a new, unoccupied building to be vacant, while city data does not, he said.
The city demographer said a comparison of census tracts in the area between La Brea Avenue and the Pacific Ocean, and from Playa del Rey to Pacific Palisades, found about 5,400 empty units and a 3.17% vacancy rate, while the Census Bureau estimated 13,800 empty units and a 7.44% vacancy rate.
The information will be used by city officials who want the government to conduct a post-enumeration survey to determine if the census needs to be adjusted, Lipton said.