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Report Looks At Santa Cruz County Quality Of Life

Report Looks At Santa Cruz County Quality Of Life


Web Site Has Full Report

November 18, 2002

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. -- Roadwork and trash collection is a big part of the quality of
life in Santa Cruz. But according to the United Way’s eighth annual community assessment
project, life in Santa Cruz County may be more difficult than ever.
One positive is that the county unemployment rate continued to drop. It is down to 6.1
percent. But overall, just 36 percent of county residents believe they’re better off now than
they were a year ago.
The report confirms that Santa Cruz County remains one of the least affordable places to live.
The median cost of a home is $525,000, compared to national median of $174,100. And
salaries don’t make up for it. People who live in the area spend more than half their
take-home pay on housing.
“Yes, that’s unprecedented in the United States. There’s no place that you would see those
high numbers like here. So we’ve got to do something about that. We can’t have a healthy
family life, healthy lifestyles, if we’re putting so much money into the roofs over our heads,”
said United Way spokeswoman Mary Lou Goeke.
The high cost housing is just one quality of life issue. Crime is another. Violent crimes are up,
with 13 homicides reported and 113 rapes, which are the highest numbers since 1994. Crimes
against property, like burglary, arson and car theft, are also on the rise, with a combined
increase of almost 19 percent.
“We have to look at everything cumulatively. We’re looking at economics. We’re looking at
health. We’re looking at housing. And all those stresses, I think, add to that concern of crime
and safety,” said Criminal Justice Council spokeswoman Raquel Mariscal.
On the bright side, most people, according to the report, believe law enforcement handles
crime effectively. And parents feel their children are learning well in Santa Cruz County
schools, even though enrollment is down. Live Oak Elementary School, San Lorenzo Valley
Unified, Santa Cruz High School and Soquel Elementary School have all lost more than 4
percent of their students, and some schools may have to close.
“Whenever you close a school, the other schools end up being a little too crowded because
you don’t have enough to keep one school open. And yet, usually, you have too much for the
other schools. Overcrowding always hurts kids. Overcrowding hurts everybody,” said Cabrillo
College Watsonville Center spokeswoman Rachel Mayo.
The report serves as a measuring stick on where the community is headed and what
strategies, services and activities can be used to make improvements.
If you are interested in reading the entire report, click here.

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