A newly released report that tracks standards of living in San Diego offers a mixed report of the city.
The 2016 Quality of Life Dashboard from the Center for Sustainable Energy’s (CSE) Equinox Project shines a spotlight on economic and environmental factors that affect living standards in San Diego.
“The Quality of Life Dashboard provides the community with high-quality, transparent data useful for better understanding the intersection of business, government and the environment in the San Diego region,” said Mary McGroarty, vice-chair and board member for CSE.
According to the Dashboard, several areas show significant improvement: employment, entrepreneurship, renewable energy and water use.
During 2015, venture capital investments increased by more than $333 million, the report found. Chuck Colgan, with the Energy Center said there were 446 new high-tech and life science startups created.
Immigrants were nearly twice as likely as native-born Americans to start job-creating businesses, especially in engineering and technology, according to the Dashboard.
As for the economy, the employment rate in San Diego is 5.1 percent compared to California’s 6.1 percent and the national average of 5.3 percent, said Colgan. Construction is still the largest employment area with over 244,000 jobs.
In the fourth year of the ongoing drought, residents reduced their water use by 14 percent per capita, Colgan said.
Renewable energy made impressive strides with solar rooftop installations on residents’ houses rising by 75 percent from 2014, according to the Dashboard. Colgan said businesses using commercial systems went up by almost 27,000 new installations in 2015.
Last year, the State required SDG&E to deliver 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources. It was the first regulated energy company in California to reach this goal, according to Colgan.
“As San Diego’s energy company we recognize that the decisions of today will impact generations to come,” said SDG&E’s Regional Vice President of External Relations, Frank Urtasun.
A few major areas in decline were landfill waste and beach water quality, as shown in the Dashboard.
It’s a result of San Diegans throwing out 3 percent more waste in 2015. This increases the amount in landfills to nearly 125,000 tons, said Colgan.
The waste in San Diego was considerably larger than other counties in California.
Beach advisories went up dramatically in 2015 but this was mainly caused by an increase in rain and stormy weather, said Colgan. But the actual number of beach closures decreased.
According to the Dashboard, the biggest hotspots for beach advisories are still the areas around Mission Bay, Point Loma and Imperial Beach.
This was the second year that the Dashboard included a border region indicator, which reported on water quality issues along Tijuana’s beaches along with vehicle traffic by the border.
“The lessons we learn from the Equinox Project dashboard help us grow and progress in the right way to build a sustainable city and border region," said San Diego City Councilmember David Alvarez.
The dashboard is a nonpartisan report card that tracks and grades a total of 15 indicators including air quality, border region, climate change, economic prosperity, electric vehicles, energy, house, land use, transportation, waste and water.
Of these 15 indicators for San Diego, six improved and six decreased. Three remained neutral or lacked fresh data such as air quality, cross-border issues and climate change impacts.