The state of California recently released estimates for the annual growth of every city in 2016. Want to take a guess as to which city in San Diego County saw the most? You might be surprised by the answer: the city of Vista.

The city, which finished 2015 with a population of 98,838, ended 2016 with an estimated tally of 101,797, a three percent bump. That’s not only the top percentage in the county but also the only one higher than 1.1 percent. Compare that to Carlsbad (0.8 percent), Encinitas (0.6 percent), and San Diego (1.1 percent). The county saw 0.9 percent population growth overall.

Vista’s growth stands out because, as Voice of San Diego’s Alon Levy points out, it signals the way trends are shifting where people live in the region (and state). 

Rich suburbs have no more room and are experiencing low population growth. Meanwhile, the highest growth in San Diego County is in lower middle-income Vista. Viewed together, these two trends show how poor transportation and growth-restricting zoning limit the county’s access to good jobs.

The numbers seem to fly in the face of the “back to the city” trends that many states have been posting in recent years. While California’s major cities are seeing decent growth, it’s cities like Vista benefitting from the lack of affordable options for many in those metropolises.

Coronado was the only city in the county to see a downward population shift, losing 2.7 percent in 2016. That keeps with recent census numbers where the city either lost residents or remained stagnant.