Most people think of California as the state of Hollywood magic and dreams of “making it big,” but according to a new study published in U.S. News & World Report, all might not be so sunny in the Golden State.
California was ranked the 32nd-best state overall, with Iowa coming in as the surprise No. 1 pick. But what really tanked California’s score was the fact that it came in dead last in the “quality of life” category, which looks at two subcategories: social environment (community engagement, social support and voter participation) and natural environment (drinking water quality, low industrial toxins, low pollution health risk and urban air quality).
Unfortunately, it’s not all glitz and glamor in the state — more like acid rain and pollution. California was ranked last when it came to urban air quality, a shameful designation also bestowed upon the state by the American Lung Association in 2017.
Undoubtedly the traffic problem has a lot to do with the air quality. The state’s population continues to boom, and Los Angeles was ranked as having the worst traffic congestion in the world last year (for the sixth year in a row).
The state’s infrastructure is also part of what sunk its place in the standings. High electricity prices, long commute times and poor road quality (probably because, as the most populous state in the nation, people are always on the roads) led to a dismal infrastructure ranking of No. 38. Income indicators were poor too — the cost of living, especially in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, is just too high for salaries to keep up.
But it’s not all doom and gloom in the state. It has the fourth-best economy in the nation and is ranked No. 1 in public health, GDP growth and business environment. And there are some things you just can’t quantify on a spreadsheet. The natural beauty around those of us who live in the state is stunning, with sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs meeting azure seas below, towering snowcapped mountains and striking desert vistas around every corner. The arts flourish in the state, and cultural exchange happens at a rapid-fire pace.
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It’s an exciting place to live, but hopefully legislators will pay attention to the apparent flaws highlighted by the report so the Golden State can finally ascend the podium to the place where it belongs.