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A Tale of Two Cities: Highlights of the RAND Report

By Erica Williams
Staff Writer

June 10 -- The 2000 U.S. Census paints a tale of two cities, with Santa Monicans living North of Montana averaging more than four times the income of residents in the Pico neighborhood just a couple dozen blocks away.

If the city is divided by income, it is also divided by race. More than 85 percent of the residents living North of Montana are white, while Blacks and Latinos are concentrated in the Pico Neighborhood.

These are among the key findings of a RAND analysis of the census that will help City officials determine how to target spending based on the needs and makeup of Santa Monica's population of 84,084.

The report made the following key findings:

  • The median income of city residents was $50,714 in 1999. That’s up 5 percent since 1989 while county and state residents saw their median incomes decline by 10 percent and 4 percent respectively.

  • The wealthiest Santa Monicans lived in the (90402) North of Montana neighborhood and had a median income of $118,553 that typically supported a family with children averaging two to three people per household. The poorest Santa Monicans lived along the I-10 corridor in Downtown (90401) and the Pico neighborhood (90404) and made between $17,500 and $34,134.

  • The number of households declined slightly since 1990, by 1 percent to 44,503 in 2000. The majority, 62 percent (up slightly from 1990), were “non-family” households composed of people, such as roommates, who aren’t related to each other. That’s twice as many as in Los Angeles County and California. Just over half of those people lived alone, and 11 percent were seniors.

  • 20 percent of all family households were families with children younger than 18 -- a jump of 6 percent since 1990. The number of single parent families remained essentially unchanged throughout the nineties.

  • Most Santa Monicans are between the ages of 25 and 44, accounting for 40 percent of the city’s population, slightly higher than in the county and state. Nearly two-thirds live in the 90403 and 90405 zip codes. The population between the ages of 25 and 34 showed the greatest increase, growing 6.9 percent during the 1990s to 20 percent in 2000.

  • School-age kids (5 to 19 years old) accounted for more than 10 percent of all city residents in 2000, half that of the county and state. Sixty-one percent of them lived in Pico, Sunset Park and Ocean Park, which were also home to a third each of teens and young adults.

  • Seniors, 65 years and older, accounted for 14 percent of Santa Monicans in 2000, a slight 3 percent decline since 1990. Santa Monica lost 20 percent of its female seniors during the 1990s, compared to the county and state, where the numbers remained virtually unchanged.

  • More than half of Santa Monica’s African Americans and 38 percent of its Latinos live in the (90404) Pico neighborhood. Sunset Park and Ocean Park (90405) “is the most racially and ethnically diverse area in the city capturing at least 25 percent of each group’s population.” The least diverse area, according to the report, is the (90402) North of Montana neighborhood where more than 85 percent of residents are white.

  • More than two-thirds of Santa Monicans worked outside the city in the greater Los Angeles area in 2000, a slight increase over 1990. Meanwhile more residents were unemployed in 2000, with the unemployment rate climbing to 7.4 percent in 2000, a more than 50 percent increase over 1990. The rate was about 1 percent less than in LA County and half-a-percent more than the state’s.

  • Santa Monica residents over 25 years old are more educated than their counterparts statewide. In 2000, more than half (an increase of 25 percent since1990) have bachelors and graduate degrees compared to a quarter of county and state residents. The growth in the higher levels of education “is reflective of a nationwide trend,” the report states.

  • Santa Monica’s poor, based on federal poverty thresholds, increased by 8 percent during the 1990s and were 10 percent of city residents in 1999. Three-fourths were 18 to 64 years old, compared to just under 60 percent of that group in the county and the state. The numbers of children under 5 living in poverty in Santa Monica declined significantly by 32 percent to 266 in 1999. Meanwhile 18 percent of Asians living in Santa Monica were considered poor, as were 20 percent of the city’s African American population and 15 percent of Latinos.

  • Though the number of households in Santa Monica receiving public assistance declined by 53 percent to just over 1,000 recipients in 2000, the number of residents eligible to receive MediCal increased by almost one-fifth, a phenomenon the report finds “inconsistent.” It seems to suggest, the report said, “that either public assistance receipt was unreported on the 2000 Census or those who could benefit from public assistance are not receiving it.”

  • In 2000, about 13,000 Santa Monicans older than five were living with a physical, mental or emotional disability that was long-term. Most disabled residents between 16 and 64 years old lived Downtown and accounted for 26 percent of the disabled population.
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