About the same time two of California’s largest cities were named among the seven worst-run municipalities in the country, we learn that the state’s — and the country’s — largest county had the worst population outflow in the U.S. in 2018.
The livin’ in California ain’t easy, in the summertime or at any other.
According to WalletHub, which compiles Internet lists like Ihop stacks pancakes, Oakland and San Francisco are the 144th and 148th — out of 150 — worst-run cities in the nation. To be fair, one California city managed to do well in the rankings: Huntington Beach is 14th. But the next California city doesn’t appear until Santa Ana makes an appearance at no. 62. San Diego (69th) and Fremont (74th) are the only other cities in the state in the top half.
Thirty-seven metrics were used to compile the list, including the violent crime rate, unemployment, median household income, and percent of population living in poverty. California cities performed well in infant-mortality rates — all of the top five are from this state, with San Francisco no. 1 with the lowest infant-mortality rate in the country. But the high rankings were offset by bottom-of-list rankings in road quality and air pollution.
San Francisco also scored high in providing quality services. It’s 19th. But that’s offset by the city’s “total budget per capita,” which pushed its overall rating to 148th. Oakland was 81st in services, but dragged down by its budget, as well.
Both cities, we should add, have become overrun with homelessness, and sharp surges in automobile break-ins. These are quality-of-life matters that city and county leaders should be held accountable for.
Not too much higher in the rankings is Los Angeles, at 135th. Both the city and the county in this sprawling megalopolis are struggling with living conditions. It’s enough to drive people away. Last year, 98,608 more people left Los Angeles County than moved in. Media reports say it is “the largest net outmigration among the nation’s big counties.”
Those paid to promote the city and ignore its warts will say the loss of fewer than 100,000 in a county of 10.1 million is nothing to be concerned about. While a good sense of proportion is always helpful for understanding, two things stand out from the Census data.
One, outflow was equal to 0.98% of all residents, 20th worst among the 176 largest counties in the country.
Two, “historically speaking,” writes Jonathan Lasner for the Southern California News Group, “last year’s outmigration was up compared with an average 57,136 outflow from 2010 to 2017.”
No doubt the objective among many, if not nearly all, of those who left Los Angeles County last year was to escape. It’s a mindset also common in San Francisco. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, “more people moved out of the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area — an urban core of 4.7 million people in a broader region known as the Bay Area — than moved into it from other parts of California or the U.S., according to U.S. census data.”
How long will the political leaders of California continue to follow the Blue State model that drives out the middle and working classes, and can’t competently manage matters at the municipal level?
Clearly, it’s not working for a large part of the population — which is exactly what the Democratic presidential candidates were saying about the U.S. economy during the recent debates. What they’re describing, though, is not the result of recent federal agenda of tax cuts and deregulation, which have benefited Americans at all income levels, but progressive policies, which have crushed California’s middle class but left the wealthy largely untouched.
Yet more of California is what the Democrats are proposing. It’s obviously not working here, though, and it’s not going to work for the rest of the country, either.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.