By Jessica C. Lee - 8/6/2007
Orange County Business Journal Staff
Santa Ana has the people. Anaheim has the big budget. Fast-growing Irvine’s gaining on Huntington Beach for the No. 3 spot.
That’s the upshot of the Business Journal’s first list of Orange County cities. The list ranks the county’s 34 cities by 2006 population and includes yearly revenue, city workers and their largest employers.
The cities on the list have 2.98 million residents, making up nearly all of the county’s 3 million people. Their populations were up 0.85% last year from 2005.
All together, the cities employ 13,770 people with revenue of $2 billion for the 2006-07 fiscal year through June.
The cities credit their population and revenue growth to the housing boom of the past few years. Commercial development also has been a factor, as has tourism.
A good chunk of OC’s population is in the five biggest cities: Santa Ana, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Irvine and Garden Grove.
Combined, the cities have 1.2 million people, a third of the county’s total.
No. 1 Santa Ana had 353,428 people, up 0.38% from 2005. The city ranks No. 9 in the state by population.
Hispanics make up about 75% of Santa Ana’s residents. Some contend the densely populated city is closer to 400,000 or more people, arguing government figures undercount Hispanics and undocumented residents.
Santa Ana has 1,640 city workers and more than $210 million in revenue for the 12 months through June, down 2.8% from a year earlier.
Big employers include First American Corp., Freedom Communications Inc.’s Orange County Register and Western Medical Center hospital.
No. 2 Anaheim is a close second with 345,556 residents last year. Its population grew at a slightly faster clip than Santa Ana, rising 0.83% from 2005.
Anaheim is California’s 10th largest city.
It has 1,876 workers and revenue of $242 million for the 12 months through June, the most of any county city. Anaheim’s revenue was up 11% from a year earlier, likely helped by tourism and development fees for the area around Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
The city’s largest employers are Walt Disney Co., Boeing Co. and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.
With two Disney theme parks, the Anaheim Convention Center, hotels and two sports teams, tourism drives Anaheim’s budget.
Tourism is “a booming business here and it helps the local economy,” said Richard Ham, owner of boutique Hotel Ménage near Disneyland.
Tourism also helps No. 3 Huntington Beach, said Doug Traub, chief executive of the Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau.
“Huntington Beach has always been Orange County’s backyard beach, and it’s moving into the direction of becoming a world-class overnight destination,” he said.
The city is seeing its biggest development in some time with the 31-acre Pacific City project now under way. Plans call for a 200-room boutique hotel, 191,000 square feet of shops, restaurants, offices and more than 500 condominiums.
Huntington Beach’s population grew 0.45% to 202,250 people last year. Revenue grew 6% to more than $171 million last year.
Surf City is set to lose its hold on the No. 3 spot to Irvine, which was only 171 people behind Huntington Beach last year at 202,079.
Irvine’s population was up 4% from 2005, the biggest gain by any city.
With major development under way in the north part of the city and massive redevelopment set for the former El Toro Marine base, it’s just a matter of time before Irvine surpasses largely built out Huntington Beach.
Irvine had revenue of $199 million through June, up 8% from a year earlier.
There’s more of a gap between Irvine and No. 5 Garden Grove at 172,781 people last year.
Garden Grove’s revenue declined 6.7% to more than $192 million. The city is looking to tourism development along the city line with Anaheim to generate money.
All of the cities saw gains in population last year. A few grew faster than others.
They include No. 14 Tustin, up 1.1% to 70,350 people last year. The city’s revenue grew more than 15% to more than $46 million, the biggest revenue gain on the list.
The initial redevelopment of the former Tustin Marine base helped drive up revenue and stands to spur the city’s population in coming years.
“We’re expecting tax revenue from this project; all of it will help generate more funds and grow the community,” Tustin spokeswoman Lisa Woolery said.
No. 16 San Clemente had 67,373 residents last year, a 1.5% jump from a year before.
The Talega housing development drove the gain, spokeswoman Laura Ferguson said.
Through June, San Clemente’s general fund revenue grew 9% to more than $50 million.
“It’s exciting to see all of the development here,” Ferguson said.
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