Some Santa Monica residents have been aback by a new survey that ranks their city as one of the least safest in California.
In reality, violent crime and property crime have both gone down in the city of Santa Monica this past year according to FBI data. That fact is acknowledged by both the city and the people behind the survey. So what keeps Santa Monica still at the bottom of the list?
People who live in the tourist city of Santa Monica who spoke with NBCLA don't see it as an unsafe city, but a new survey by safewise.com suggests otherwise. Santa Monica ranks with Oakland, San Bernardino, and Compton among the least safe cities in California.
"Intuitively it doesn’t exactly make sense as someone who lives here that we’re among the least safe cities in the country," said Marc Morgenstern of the Ocean Park Association.
Morgenstern is a 15-year resident. He points out, as did the city in response to the survey, that Santa Monica shouldn’t be measured by its 95,000 residents, but by the quarter million people that move about there every day, including workers and tourists. That, they argue, would make its ranking much better.
"If you reflected the actual number of people in the city every day, not only residents but workers and visitors, the rating in the city would be much improved in terms of safety," Morgenstern said.
"A lot of cities experience tourism especially the bigger cities," Andrew Hull of safewise.com said.
Hull says the survey did its best to compare cities fairly. He says Santa Monica has consistently had one of the highest rates of property crimes and that’s what keeps its ranking near the bottom.
"It's really admirable that the city’s violent crime rate went down but Santa Monica’s property crime rate is where we’re seeing a lot of the problems here," Hull said.
City council member Phil Brock says residents do worry about crime issues connected to the city’s homeless population. But he says the city is working hard to calm fears.
"I want everyone feeling safe walking down our streets and alleys," Brock said.
"This is a wonderful place to live. It feels safe. The police department does a very good job."
The city also posted a statement to its website in response to the report, saying in part:
"While the SMPD is pleased that the overall numbers of reported crimes are down, the City and police department remain vigilant and are working hard day-in and day-out to address the crime that occurs in our community...Our focus and attention to issues of crime and community safety is unwavering."
Among the safest cities in Southern California in the safewise.com survey include Moorpark, Laguna Niguel, and Rancho Santa Margarita. See the list here.