Key Findings from the 2013 San Diego Regional Quality of Life Dashboard
Why does the 2013 Dashboard matter?
- As newly elected public officials take office, and residents voice their opinions about what issues should be a priority, Equinox Center’s fourth annual Quality of Life Dashboard is a tool to help San Diego residents get the facts on quality of life issues that impact us all, right in our own region.
- The Dashboard provides the facts on quality of life issues, how we compare to our neighbors, and what we can do to improve. The data, measurements, and comparisons in the Dashboard provide the analytical framework needed to have intelligent conversations about the future of our region with our leaders.
What does the 2013 Dashboard show?
- Some positive trends engender hope: improvements in air quality, job creation, renewable energy and action on climate change are all upbeat developments.
- However, the report is not cause for celebration: progress was slight in many areas, and persistent challenges such as traffic, housing costs and a vulnerable water supply continue to plague our region. Water quality worsened.
- For the first time, the Dashboard goes beyond presenting options for policy makers—the report also identifies ways corporations and individuals in the region can move the indicator needles in the right direction.
Where we’re doing well
- Air Quality continued to improve: the number of unhealthy days for the elderly and children decreased from 19 to 13 from 2010 to 2011 and is significantly lower than neighboring counties. A big achievement in 2012: San Diego County finally met federal emissions standards for ozone (for the first time since 1997).
- Renewable energy was a winner: SDG&E reached its goal of increasing renewable energy sources to 20 percent of total sales. Solar installations increased on average by 46 percent, due to substantial expansion of both residential and non-residential installations. Despite this large increase in solar, solar installations still provide only .07 percent of the region’s renewable power from the grid.
- While still sluggish, job growth is promising: for the first time since 2008, employment began to increase in 2011, with a gain of about 15,000 jobs, and the numbers continued to climb through 2012. And 8 percent of new technology jobs created in the county were in the environmental technology sector, where the average annual wage is $72,000, much higher than the overall average wage in the region.
- Municipal action on climate change moved in the right direction: all regional jurisdictions have completed baseline greenhouse gas emission inventories and many have joined together to create action plans.
Where we need improvement
- Consumption of our most precious resource, water, has increased. Average per capita water use increased in 2012, from 130 gallons per day to 133 gallons per day.
- Our region is still threatened by poor water quality. San Diego County’s total number of beach closures and advisories increased from 2010 to 2011.
- Despite small increases in housing affordability, homelessness rates have risen (by 8.6%).Compared to other regions, San Diego residents spend more on housing – about half of all renters and homeowners in San Diego County are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
- San Diegans drive more than residents of LA. While average vehicle miles traveled in 2011 declined slightly, San Diego numbers remain higher than Los Angeles County’s. More residents of LA take public transit to commute to work compared to San Diego.
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