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Solimar Research

CP&DR News Briefs April 2, 2019: Health Disparities; Bay Area Housing & Mobility; Gentrification in L.A., S.D.

Brett Simpson on
Apr 1, 2019
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study found that residents in rural counties like Kern in San Joaquin Valley suffer from the poorest health statewide, while wealthier coastal counties – such as Marin in the Bay Area – earned top spots. The study compared counties along two metrics: health outcomes and health factors. Health outcomes included metrics like premature deaths, percentage of people in poor health, and low birth weight. Health factors measured health behaviors, the physical environment, and other social and economic conditions. Statewide contrasts were clear: only 11 percent of Marin County residents were in poor or fair health, compared to 25 percent of Kern County residents.  The study also notes that health outcomes often fall along socioeconomic and racial lines. It points to past institutionalized practices that have contributed to health differences, including “unfair bank lending practices, school funding based on local property taxes, and discriminatory policing and prison sentencing.” The report concludes, "The collective effect is that a fair and just opportunity to live a long and healthy life does not exist for everyone. Now is the time to change how things are done."

Greater Appetite for Mobility than Housing in Bay Area 
Bay Area residents are more willing to pay to fix traffic congestion than housing problems, according to a Mercury News and Silicon Valley Leadership Group poll. The poll found that 71 percent of respondents supported a 1-cent sales tax increase, while only 43 percent of respondents supported a multi-faceted plan to address high home prices and rent. The response comes despite the fact that respondents ranked housing above traffic as a top concern: 83 percent agreed that housing is an “extremely” or “very serious” issue, compared with 76 percent who said the same about traffic congestion. Lukewarm support for the housing fix may come down to the proposal’s specifics. The report asked about the CASA Compact, which includes zoning changes, tax-backed affordable housing funds, and rent caps for existing tenants – and voters may object to parts of the plan even if they approve of others. Support for the traffic congestion tax measure, proceeds of which would go to measures like expanding transit lines and upgrading roadways, is comfortably above the 2/3 majority needed to pass the tax. “We’re heartened that 71 percent of us are willing to reach into our pocket to address this through a 1-cent sales tax,” Carl Guardino, President of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group told Mercury News. “This is quite a statement and a commitment by Bay Area voters.” 

Los Angeles, San Diego Rank among Most Gentrified Cities Nationwide 
A National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) report found that gentrification and cultural displacement is most pronounced in the nation’s largest cities but is nearly absent from many others. Two California cities were among the seven that account for nearly half of the nation’s total gentrification: Los Angeles and San Diego join the ranks of New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago. Using U.S. Census Bureau and economic data, the study found that rising rents, property values, and taxes disproportionately forced residents to move from these key large cities. By contrast, the study found that many rural areas and small cities nationwide remain without wealth-building investment in amenities that will spark investment and economic growth. The study’s authors point to both an absence of affordable housing projects within gentrifying cities, and a lack of cultural revitalization in poorer areas. “Revitalization of struggling neighborhoods is unevenly distributed,” wrote Jason Richardson in the report. "The big investments that fuel gentrification and cultural displacement didn’t reach most of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods and rural areas.”
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