http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/09/23/were-a-top-city-again-for-liveability


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - September 23, 2011

We're a top city again for liveability

by Jeb Bing

Pleasanton has done it again. Following Money Magazine's inclusion of our town on its 2010 list of the "100 Best Places to Live," we're now included as a top city in California, this time in a ranking by the online review site AreaVibes.

The Website, brought to our attention by Pamela Ott, the city's economic development director who no doubt is sharing it with her hundreds of business contacts, claims it's indispensable to people relocating, planning a vacation or locals that simply want to know more about the area where they live.

In its most recent report issued this week, AreaVibes places Pleasanton as No. 18 on the list of the Top 100 Cities in California. Sorry. We're not No. 1, Palos Verdes Estates has that honor, but we're well ahead of our neighbors up and down the I-580/680 corridor with our closest competitor, in Marin County, being Tiburon, which is ranked No. 13. Not to be snooty, but trendy Danville scored seven points lower at No. 25. San Ramon came in at No. 62, Alamo at No. 66, and Livermore at No. 74. As great as a near-the-top standing is for Pleasanton, I must say I always have some suspicions over factors used in generating these results, especially after seeing Carmel in the No. 91 position and the Blackhawk-Camino-Tassjara area ranked next to last at No. 99. I remember the year Money Magazine ranked Pittsburgh, Pa., as America's most livable city. I lived there at the time and it was the topic of widespread disbelief in our neighborhood.

AreaVibes scores the "liveability" of more than 15,000 cities across America based on their overall score or "AreaVibe." To earn its place on the list, Pleasanton scored 82 out of 100 points, based on scores given in a number of categories including cost of living, crime rates, education, employment, health and safety, housing, weather, transportation, local businesses and user reviews.

Pleasanton, with our current population of 67,543, received high marks in most categories, notably for having a low crime index, high educational attainment, and a high employment rate. Also considered were the city's high median household income of $114,482 and the median value of homes. Even the temperate weather and air quality index earned top scores for Pleasanton.

In several of the specific categories ranked by AreaVibes, our city looks mighty inviting. Pleasanton's crime index, for example, is 41% less than the California average and 39% less than the national average. In education, we scored a "high educational attainment" with 47.3% of Pleasanton residents having earned a bachelor's degree, as compared to the national average of 22.8%. On the jobs front, the unemployment rate as of the end of August is far less -- currently 5.4% in Pleasanton -- than the national average of 9.1%.

Other factors considered by AreaVibes include income levels. Our income per capita is 74.8% greater than the California average and 97.9% greater than the national average. Statistics also show that Pleasanton's median household income is 78.7% greater than the California average and 109.7% greater than the national average. The median home value here is 89.6% greater than the California average and 305.3% greater than the national average. Additionally, the age of the housing inventory (the median year the house was built) is less in Pleasanton than in California or nationally. We're even ahead in the air quality index in AreaVibes' health and safety category. The index is a median value, which considers the most hazardous air pollutants. Pleasanton's air quality index is 42% less than the California average and 24.3% less than the national average

The AreaVibes report also contains some other data that, while interesting, may not have impacted our ranking. These include that the male/female ratio is about even at 0.97:1. Figures show that 28.7% of the men in town are between 18 and 39 years old, compared to 28.8% of the women. A total of 65.8% of us are married and 54.9% of the population has children at home under 18 years of age.

One "reviewer" told AreaVibes that she and her brother spent a weekend here while completing a circuit of California cities. "The Pleasanton community is full of charm and beauty, and provides a good atmosphere for relaxing," she wrote. "The residents of Pleasanton are warm and inviting, and the weather is conducive to outdoor activities and shopping. I am already looking forward to my next vacation to Pleasanton."

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