‘Glittering’ Town Is Richer Than We Imagined

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

A new countywide survey has painted Pacific Palisades as one of the wealthiest towns in the Los Angeles basin.

Perhaps more importantly, the Palisades scores extraordinarily high in a more civilized, wider scale known as “Human Development.”

In fact, life is so good (by a range of metrics) that in the study called “A Portrait of Los Angeles County,” it is bundled alongside a tiny group of civic peers that are described as “glittering.”

The report is the fruit of an unprecedented “deep dive” into LA County data by 14 philanthropic organizations and an array of county agencies coordinated by the nonprofit Social Science Research Council.

It combines data about mortality rates, education and standards of living into a single zero to 10 score.

And while Los Angeles generally scores higher than almost anywhere else in the country, the chasm between the seven communities at the top and the equally populous (around 2 percent) “precarious” areas four social levels down are deeply unsettling, report co-author Sarah Burd-Sharps told the Palisadian-Post.

“The tremendous advantages enjoyed by people in Pacific Palisades contrast deeply with some others who are living on the edge: We are looking for ways to find a future balance, in housing and everything else,” she said on Monday, Dec. 4.

Within the city of Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades-Brentwood scores a remarkable 9.24 on the Human Development score, just behind Bel Air, Palos Verdes and Manhattan Beach. By contrast, Southeast LA is at the bottom with 2.26.

The Palisades has an average life expectancy of 86.3 years, four years higher than the county average. This is explained by access to good quality medicine. But Palisadians are mayflies compared to the residents of 97 percent Latino Walnut Park, south of downtown.

The median income is $19,000 per year but they live, on average, to a “remarkable” 90.7 Years.

Why? Because they hold onto regular jobs and are deeply involved in a “cohesive” community, through churches and volunteerism, the research suggests.

Yet, as a member of the seven “glittering” cities, the report described the Palisades as an island of “well being where affluent residents enjoy unrestricted opportunity, unrivaled freedom to pursue the goals that matter to them, and are able to offer their children a smorgasbord of advantages and opportunities.

“High levels of educational attainment translate into high earnings, poverty is nearly non-existent, at less than 5 percent, and three in four households own their own homes—quite a feat, given median home prices.

“Children growing up in Glittering LA have abundant access to outdoor recreation, with five of the seven cities earning the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation’s best park-access score.”

The researchers give the Palisades-Brentwood corridor a 9.33 on their education index, compared to 9.95 for Westwood, 9.79 for Palos Verdes Estates and 9.64 for La Cañada Flintridge. At 9.3, Westwood also has the highest overall health score among 35 LA communities—the Palisades is second at 8.9. Poorer cities score closer to 3.5.

The lesson? “Be compassionate to your neighbors,” concludes the report.