In the Social Progress Index: California counties, limited Shelter, low inclusiveness and poor environmental quality summarize the results of Southern California. Orange, San Diego and Ventura are the three top performing counties in the region. Orange and Ventura, ranked 6th and 10th respectively, are the only two Southern California counties in the overall top 10 counties of the state. These counties perform well on Foundations of Wellbeing and Basic Human Needs. One interesting finding from the Index was that the counties with the youngest median age, Imperial and San Bernardino, remain at the bottom of the rankings, compared to the counties with the oldest median age, Ventura and Orange.
In Southern California, there is a notable divide between the relatively stronger performance of the counties on the coast and the weaker performance of those further inland. Inadequate shelter is an issue seen all across the region- but is even worse as one looks further inland. Orange, the highest ranked Southern California county, ranks 46th on housing overcrowding, and only scored 48.42 points on the Shelter indicator. Ventura, ranks a little higher on housing overcrowding, but ranks very low on housing cost burden. Imperial and San Bernardino score even lower on this issue, demonstrating that this area of social progress is poor across the Southern California region. “A recent estimate put the number of individuals falling into homelessness in Los Angeles County during any given month at around 10,900 people.” The rising house costs are a significant issue, and it is taking its toll on the poorest of Southern Californians.
Another issue covered frequently in the media and highlighted by the Social Progress Index is the environmental degradation facing all Southern California counties. The city of Los Angeles was recently named the “smoggiest city in the nation.” On the Social Progress Index: California Counties, Los Angeles ranks 46th on the Environmental Quality component. The traffic density is one of the worst in the state, and it ranks poorly for particle pollution (measured by PM2.5 concentration). The same types of ratings for Environmental Quality are seen in Ventura and San Diego. San Bernardino and Imperial counties also rank very low in this component, and additionally face high vulnerability to wildfires. The Southern California zones of Harbison Canyon and Flintridge are just a few of the most at-risk wildfire areas in the region. In addition to these areas, more than 2.7 million Californians live in very high fire hazard zones.
Inclusiveness is another component from the Social Progress Index: California Counties with poor performance for many regions in Southern California. It is not only a problem seen in Southern California, but also in the most high performing counties in Northern California. Orange ranks 40th on Inclusiveness, however has low rates of residential and linguistic isolation. However, Ventura ranks high on this component, ranking 13th in the state. Additionally, the county has a high proportion of female county supervisors and a low rate of school bullying. The rest of the counties perform poorly in this indicator, and changes need to occur.
Limited Shelter, low Inclusiveness and poor Environmental Quality characterize the Southern California regions. Not only is this seen in this region, but also throughout the state. For California to tackle these challenges, state and local governments, business leaders, and civic groups must embrace rigorous measures like the Social Progress Index: California Counties to help them pinpoint priority areas for action. To view other data from the Social Progress Index: California Counties, please explore here.