My town is emptying out. If you look, you can see it. All the apartments have vacancy signs. Probably 12-13% of the houses are vacant. Storefronts in the strip malls and space in the office complexes are more, maybe 15-18% vacant. Industrial complexes even more and would be worse still but a lot of retail and restaurants have moved into them because of the lower rents.
There is noticeably less traffic on the streets during rush hours in the morning and evenings. At the big malls the parking lots are never full and there is never any real bustle, even on weekends.
The beaches still get a lot of traffic on holiday weekends but that's influx from the valleys and high desert, escaping the heat. They don't come into the neighborhoods. They don't eat at the restaurants. They don't buy anything. Maybe a tank of gas on the way out of town.
People are leaving. It's expensive here, that's why. You can go someplace else, not that far away and get an apartment or buy a little house for 30-40% less. If you're willing to go a little farther, it's even cheaper than that. Find a big house that they're renting out by the room and utilities are paid, you can get by with even a marginal income, out in a place like Rialto or Fontana, hard up against the base of the Cajon Pass. If the traffic is light, it's only an hours drive.
Beach towns are all about ambiance. When people start watching expenses, ambiance is the first thing a lot are willing to do without. If enough people leave, the ambiance may not be so damn good anyway.
We'll see, by and by.