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Sunday, November 18, 2012

How Costa Mesa fits into the 

State and County 

After that brief look at Costa Mesa’s history, let’s see where “The City of the Arts” fits in California demographics

Costa Mesa’s population is above the average; 117,178 compared to 66,735 for the average California city. Most cities average 101:1 ratios of residents to city employees, compared to our 155:1. So, we have a higher than average population and a lower than average ratio of citizens to city employees.

Costa Mesa earnings

However, the average city employee’s wage in California is $57,429, while Costa Mesa’s employees average $71,379; remember that these are salaries without including the value of benefits, which can vary widely among cities and job classifications. About 20% of the City’s employees live in the City.

Our Police Department has 257 employees out of 753 total; that is, about 34% of the city employees work for the CMPD. The average wage of PD employees is $90, 307, compared to $71, 379 for all City employees. We pay about $459 per resident – man, woman, and child – for CMPD, a total of $23,209,020 each year.

Income and age gaps influence policies

California has increased the income gap (high-income and low-income growing more than the mid-income groups). This may be influenced by the dot com billionaires and movie stars that grace our state.

Our “aging affluents” are becoming an important constituency in the State. (Note that growth and schooling tend to be less important to aging affluents.) In Costa Mesa, though, only 9.2% are aged 65 or older and 28% 19 or younger. About half of the rest is between 35 and 44.

On the other hand, we Californians have 12% of the nation’s population, but 33% of the national welfare cases. And, as a state, we have the 47th lowest science education scores for high school students.

The top eleven employers (in number employed) in Costa Mesa are: Experian, Coast Community College District Foundation, Orange Coast College, Coast Community College District, Fairview Developmental Center, AAA of Southern California, First Team Real Estate, Pacific Building Care, IBM, FileNet, and Hyundi Corporation.

Buy, rent or camp in their home

Not everyone residing in Costa Mesa owns or rents their home; we have a lot of “homeless” folks, too. In fact, far more than our population would warrant. Some of the inequity probably resulted from transition planning discrepancies. Many prisoners and parolees and probationers released from custody were being dropped off in Costa Mesa. Some folks call Costa Mesa the “dumping ground” for vagrants and prisoners when they are released from County Jail.

Another factor could be the number of recovery programs (“halfway houses”) in Costa Mesa, which is also way above the norm for cities in Orange County.

And, part of the numbers may be the result of effective “recruiting” by several homeless assistance charities. Executives earning over $120,000 per year keep their jobs, and get raises, based upon the number of needy that they serve. They actively recruit homeless and needy people to use their services.

These three factors increase the concentration of homeless, undocumented, sex-offenders and other released criminals, unmedicated mentally ill, and persons just “down on their luck.” How many fit into these categories is impossible to specify although the Homeless Task Force and Vanguard University have studied and counted for two years. How many have any tie with Costa Mesa other than residing here at the moment is disputed.

Don't know how many there are

A survey of visible homeless (sleeping in parks, etc.) shows a range of 60-120 on the count dates, with 82% previously jailed (by their admission), and 43% specifying daily alcohol use. As a matter of interest: sex offenders with an address must stay away from schools, libraries and parks where children play. Homeless sex offenders don’t have the same restrictions.

Costa Mesa has 23% of the (drug and alcohol) recovery home beds and 32% of the facilities for the County. Some of the “drop outs” from the homes rotate to the street and back, giving fluidity to the homeless count. Most of the calls for service from the CMPD in the Lyons Park area involve the homeless and alcohol or drugs.

Coming up in Costa Mesa:

Costa Mesans who would like to see the New Year in can register for a Block Party New Year’s Eve at the Fairgrounds. Visit or call 714.708,1500.

Snoopy House display of Peanuts characters has been a Costa Mesa and Orange County holiday tradition for 46 years. The Snoopy House, which features holiday scenes populated by "Peanuts" characters, is open from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly from Dec. 14 through Dec. 25. And Santa visits from Dec. 13 to Dec. 23. Children and their families can get free photos with Santa.

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