News and notes for the month of March
Last month we noted several “best” lists that included Irvine, including the Fiscal Times putting Irvine at the top of its list as the most-fiscally-fit city in the nation, Sunset magazine naming us among “20 Western Dream Towns,” GoodCall.com hailing Irvine as the 9th-safest big city in which to raise a family, and WalletHub.com ranking Irvine 9th in the nation for cities with healthy lifestyles. Now, a new list from GoodCall.com ranks Irvine as one of the best places to invest in buying a home. No great surprise, especially for those who bought in 1972…or 2002… 2008…or even 2016. The only real surprise is that Irvine didn’t rank in the top 10 of the 509 cities the data-driven website looked at. Irvine ranked No. 15 in the “2017 Best Places to Buy a Forever Home” report. The rankings were based on low crime and unemployment, strong educational values, growing population and affordability. As Irvine residents might expect, the city did best in the low crime, education values and home-value growth categories. Affordability issues moved the city down in the overall rankings. Some of the top cities in the rankings are affluent suburbs in Texas, including places named Flower Mound and Sugar Land. This is where we’d write something amusingly deprecating about the Lone Star State, but we don’t want Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who already hates California, to find out. He might start fracking up our fair city.
The “Show me” state snags AutoAlert
We have no such qualms about mildly mocking Missouri, which didn’t fare as well as California or Texas in the home investment rankings. Kansas City came in 296th on the list, including a 0 percent return on housing over the past five years. (Irvine values went up 25 percent in the same period.) So good luck to the Irvine employees of AutoAlert being asked to relocate to Kansas City after the local tech company’s owners announced its headquarters are heading there. According to reports, the company was lured from Irvine to the city boosters call the Paris of the Plains (without irony, apparently) thanks to $9 million in tax incentives. No doubt the company will pass those funds on to employees to make up for all the housing appreciation they’ll miss out on, not to mention as a bonus for having to move to Missouri.
UCI predicts less crime
Not to keep piling on poor Kansas City (or AutoAlert’s decision to move there), but the city’s overall crime rate is 58.6 per 1,000 population, according to the GoodCall.com data, as compared to Irvine’s rate of 15.5 per 1,000. Irvine’s consistent ranking as the safest city in the U.S. is based on our low violent crime rate, most recently noted as 56 such crimes per 100,000 people in the city. Kansas City’s violent crime rate is a frightening 1,286 per 100,000 people, one of the worst in the nation. Which certainly supports our worldview about living in Irvine: we can all gripe about minor inconveniences, but who wants to move? Especially after looking at UCI’s recently released crime rate forecast, which projects reductions in both violent and property crimes in across much of Southern California for 2017. The predictions are part of the third annual “Crime Report for Southern California,” a publication produced by the Irvine Laboratory for the Study of Space & Crime, which is part of UCI’s School of Social Ecology. The report projects violent crime to drop by 21 percent in 82 percent of SoCal cities, and property crime to decrease by 11 percent in 79 percent of cities. As for crime rates from recent years, the study computes the crime rate average over a three-year period, from 2013-2015, which smoothes the random year-to-year fluctuations, according to John Hipp, UCI professor of Criminology, Law & Society. The study calculates the standardized crime rate for the region and sets it at 100. Cities with standardized values above or below 100 have crime rates higher or lower than the regional average. Irvine’s violent crime rate came in at 31.7, well under the standardized rate of 100 in the study. Tustin (48), Newport Beach (103) and Lake Forest (111) fared well, especially compared to the surprising rate in Laguna Beach (291).