After WalletHub ranked Long Beach the second worst ran city in the United States last week, Ed Kamlan, the Long Beach City Manager’s media contact, questioned the study’s research methodology.
“We can’t comment on exactly how [WalletHub] reached their conclusion,” Kamlan said. “But clearly we are very proud of Long Beach’s efforts in all three of these areas and firmly believe that Long Beach is a very well-run city.”
WalletHub’s list of 2015’s Best & Worst Run Cities in America clocked Long Beach in at second-to-last out of the 65 most-populated major cities in the United States.
WalletHub based their findings off a scale of returns on public spending investments. In order of most to least weighted, the three departments surveyed for each city were the Education Department, the Police Department and the Parks and Recreation Department.
Only 40 percent of Long Beach students in the Long Beach Unified School District were within the average standardized test score range, which is the main reason Long Beach placed so low on the list, according to WalletHub.
Kamlan said that the Long Beach City government does not actually run the school system itself. He said that those decisions are left up to the district.
“However, Long Beach School District has been named one of the top five urban school districts in the world, and has won the Broad Prize for Urban Education (and been a finalist several times),” Kamlan said.
WalletHub also calculated returns on investments based on crime rates and spending per capita and said that Long Beach had about a 3 percent crime rate in comparison to other cities, but a $585 per capita expenditure on police forces.
“I think Long Beach shouldn’t be ranked the second-worst city in America because I feel it’s [more safe],” junior finance major Thomas Nou said. “Since I’ve been living here for 21 years, it hasn’t been something too dramatic where there’s shootings every single day and stuff like that. And where I live, it’s also not in a nice area, but I still feel like it’s safe.”
Kamlan said that Long Beach is experiencing 42-year lows in violent crime and that the Parks Department was the Gold Medal winner in 2013 for best in the nation.
Heather Donner, a sophomore communications major, said she admits that she has not had much experience with the Police Department in the city, but that “they have a lot more on their plate” in comparison to her small hometown where police only “[write] speeding tickets and shut down parties.”
Donner said that she thinks Long Beach has a “bad rap,” but that she still thinks more can be done to improve. Donner said she grew up in Northern California and had access to multiple parks in her hometown that were all within walking distance.
“The kids in our apartment are always stuck playing in the tiny little quad in the center of our apartment, and I always feel bad that they don’t really have anywhere else to go to play,” Donner said. “I know there isn’t a ton of space, but I’ve noticed some random vacant lots or grass lots so I think it would be really beneficial to add some playgrounds.”
Kamlan said the Parks Department won their 2013 award largely in part due to “efforts to increase park space in park-poor areas of the City.”
Fremont was the only other city to rank lower than Long Beach on the list. Other California cities studied include Anaheim at number 51 and Los Angeles ranked at 58. Texas had seven cities listed as best-run, including Lubbock in first place.