Sixth from left, in front of city hall (and under the world-famous California sunshine), shepherding a monthly “Bike Ride with the Mayor.”
City of Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica (pop. 94,000) is known to the world as an upscale community on the shimmering coast of LA, but a few years ago the City Council wondered whether all its residents were enjoying the quality of life they could. There were already metrics to measure physical elements like greenhouse gas emissions, but the Council wanted to go deeper and plumb their emotional state.
In 2013, the city won a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to create a “Wellbeing Index,” which seemed to some a bit ethereal, but when the Council got the results from surveys of its residents, they were startled to find that while many things were going great, there was a part of the population that was distinctly not sharing the good times.
Examples: One in five residents said they felt stress about paying their mortgage or rent. Some children did not appear to be kindergarten-ready. Despite being a town with renowned farmers’ markets, some residents reported poor diets with few servings of fruits and vegetables, and further, only 25% of residents eligible for CalFresh (supplemental healthy food assistance) took advantage of it.
This year, the city introduced “SaMoStats,” [link to: https://beta.smgov.net/samostat:] available in a public open data portal, to quantify outcomes of its billion dollar biannual budget (its general fund as well as “enterprise” revenue sources from its iconic pier to its local airport and cemetery).
Based on these metrics, informed by both the Wellbeing Index and a longstanding Sustainability City Plan), the city has turned more attention to its underserved and tried harder to address issues such as housing affordability, childhood development, and public nutrition.
The metrics have become so much a part of the internal employee staff culture that Ted reports, as an example, that a fire captain he spoke with recently referred explicitly to SaMoStats in replying to a question about emergency response times.
Grew up in Brooklyn, English degree from Dartmouth (’79), worked in movie development in Manhattan, came to LA in 1990 to do the same. Elected to City Council 2012, then Mayor in December 2016 for two-year term. Day job in residential real estate (“as mayor, I got a $4,000 raise from city council members–to $16,000 a year”).
Varsity letter in college in whitewater kayaking.