We’re No. 1! And No. 2, and No. 3 and No. 5 …

Internet lists are basically social media gold.

Locally, with a quick “Woo!” or “Boo!” for added flavor, links to the latest roundup are fired off on Twitter and Facebook to spread the good (or bad) word. It’s debatable how much weight we should assign each new distinction, especially now that news sites are hip to the fact these are automatic page-view boosters.

But we can glean some helpful context on San Diego’s big picture from a few of the latest lists. Here’s where our region’s crushin’ it, so to speak, or being crushed.

Fail: Rental Affordability

San Diego is the fifth worst city when it comes to affordable rent. The New York Times highlighted new numbers from a Harvard study, which rounded up some data to back up Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan’s claim that we’re in “the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has ever known.”

Rent and utilities, according to the Times, are supposed to take up 30 percent or less of a household’s income to be considered affordable. In San Diego last year, it took up more than 41 percent, based on the median income here. That’s up from 30.9 percent in 2000, when the market was apparently already putting households under pressure.

Fail: Jobs Creation

Ours is the worst environment for creating jobs, according to a new Gallup poll. The firm surveyed the nation’s 50 largest cities, “based on reports of hiring activity versus layoffs from workers who live in those areas.” Here’s a little more on that methodology:

Gallup’s Job Creation Index score is based on the percentage of workers who say their employer is hiring and expanding its workforce versus the percentage saying their employer is letting people go and reducing its workforce.

Thrive: Installing Solar

San Diego has the second highest amount of solar capacity installed among major U.S. cities, which makes sense given the big green pushes we’ve seen from those in charge. Council President Todd Gloria’s proposed climate action plan includes a goal to reach 100 percent sustainable energy by 2035, a significant portion of which would come from solar:

More than 20 percent of the energy San Diego Gas & Electric delivers to consumers comes from solar power, as of 2012. The utility company is on track to reach the state-mandated 33 percent threshold by 2020.

In announcing the results from the Environment California Research & Policy Center’s study, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he wants to keep moving forward with solar-energy initiatives that motivate San Diegans to install panels.

 “As a pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs, solar energy can help us to meet many of our city’s environmental and economic goals,” Faulconer said. “It makes perfect sense for San Diego, one of the sunniest cities in the country, to lead the way in solar energy.”

Thrive: Innovation

Inc. magazine counted us among the nation’s most innovative cities. That’s mostly thanks to Qualcomm’s 1985 founding in San Diego, which set us on a path to becoming No. 1 in telecom.

We can also thank Torrey Pines and some 90 other golf courses for the inspiration to bang out patents for “games using a tangible projectile” – golf, folks.

We revealed a bustling but lesser-known sports innovation sector last year:

A field dubbed sports innovation already boasts hundreds of companies in San Diego, according to Connect, an organization founded in the 1980s to foster innovation in San Diego. Connect leaders recruited Bill Walton to lead the board of its San Diego Sports Innovators branch.

These sports innovators include companies like Callaway Golf and TaylorMade-Adidas that push golf technology forward.

The American branch of the oldest diving gear manufacturer, Aqua Lung, is headquartered in Vista and uses nearby oceans to test new diving technology.

The Active Network, a San Diego-based company operating sports race registrations, launched its company on the stock market a couple of years ago. (That company has gone through some major crises in recent months.)

Thrive: Startups

Forbes put us on the map as the No. 1 place to launch a startup this year, a nod that has sparked plenty of debate around San Diego’s tech community. But take a second to bask in what we have going for us. From Forbes:

There is heavy concentration in projected high growth industries, as well as a high likelihood of accepting credit cards and adopting social media. San Diego is home to the fifth-best rated business community in the country.

VOSD tech blogger Blair Giesen suggested we not rest on our laurels. And the vocal tech enthusiasts piped up to counter the Forbes finding. Here’s whatVOSD reader Eric Spoerner wrote:

People are not choosing San Diego over other metros. At least, young people aren’t. San Diego’s been shedding more Millennials by raw number than any metros except New York and L.A. since the recession began (given our relative lack of population compared to these two metros, the raw numbers are shocking). Young people make startups go – they’re the ones who will work the appalling hours for limited (initial) pay.

If San Diego is serious about having a culture hospitable to startups, it needs to also be serious about having a culture that appeals to luring and keeping Millennials. That means, above all, walkable/bikeable infrastructure, affordable housing, and public transportation.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.