Wednesday notes: Obama, Walmart, Amtrak, & Healthcare

Today’s installment of news and notes includes President Obama’s State of the Union address and what it means for Stockton; Crime around Walmart; the city’s rising Amtrak ridership numbers; and the Daily Beast’s best and worst healthcare cities.


President Obama addresses plight of cities: Last night, President Obama delivered the State of the Union address, touching on a broad range of policy proposals from foreign policy to minimum wage to gun control. There was probably very little that resonated with Stocktonians in terms of the state of our city. However, there was one snippet of the President’s speech that jumped out:

“Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in run-down neighborhoods. And this year, my Administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet. We’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety, education, and housing.”

SCL cleared obama picI hope city leaders were listening, because Stockton could easily be considered among the 20 hardest-hit towns in America. If the White House is going to extend help to the worst hit cities, Stockton should be at the top of that list.

While there has not been an official policy statement from the White House elaborating on the specifics of the President’s plan, I suspect it could be an expansion of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative launched in 2011. This initiative pledges individual support to cities in the form of federal agency expertise to “leverage federal dollars and support the work being done at the local level to encourage economic growth and community development.“ Regionally, SC2 provided Fresno with a 23-person “Community Solutions Team” comprised of issue experts from 12 different federal agencies to work directly with the city on a place-based model to “develop specific actions to advance the goals of the city.” The partnership has resulted in several modest success stories, such as bringing the city’s Social Security Administration branch into downtown, developing a business course for small business owners, and providing technical assistance to help expand neighborhood revitalization efforts.

While the SC2 program is not a game changer, the program’s expansion to Stockton could provide some much needed support to an overtaxed city staff. If the President really wants to help the 20 hardest-hit cities, Stockton would be the ideal place to start. The city employs an advocacy firm to lobby on its behalf, I suggest they make their way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to make sure Stockton has a voice in the Administration’s selection process.

walmart signWalmart- “High-Crime, Everyday, Everywhere”- As I wrote about last year, the introduction of Walmart stores often results in higher crime rates. So when I took a quick look at Stockton’s crime hot spots so far in 2013, I wasn’t surprised to see that the city’s two Super Walmarts leading the way. According to the crime-data tracking website crimemapping.com, the Trinity Parkway Super Walmart has been the scene of more than 25 reported crimes in 2013, ranging from theft to fraud to stolen vehicles. And this is the better of the two stores. On Hammer Lane, the elder Stockton Super Walmart accounted for a whopping 56 crimes during the same timeframe. No other single address in the city has produced more total crimes in 2013 than the city’s Walmarts. (Side note: the Walmart Neighborhood Market on March and West Lanes doesn’t appear to have an unordinary number of crimes.) Obviously, we are looking at raw data, and correlation does not equal causation, but these numbers are surely not comforting to the people living in the surrounding areas.

Region’s rail ridership rising: In fiscal year 2012, Stockton train stations (Cabral and San Joaquin Street stations) saw a combined 317,982 Amtrak boardings, making Stockton the 13th busiest Amtrak stop in California. While not overly impressive, the 2012 stats represent a big increase from 2011 (298,516 boardings), continuing a trend of higher ridership numbers (note: I am not entirely sure, but I do not believe these numbers include ACE ridership.) Moreover, Amtrak’s San Joaquin Corridor drew just under 1 million passengers last year, good for fifth most amongst all Amtrak routes.

Why are these numbers important? Because they signal demand for more rail services in the Central Valley. Case in point, the city of Modesto just voted to accept a Downtown Passenger Rail Station Feasibility Study examining the possibility of bringing rail service to downtown Modesto. Leaders there want to make sure they are prepared for both improvements in ACE service and the eventually High Speed Rail.

Today in lists: In the world of lists and rankings, the Daily Beast just came out with their list of 25 best– and worst– healthcare cities for 2012. While Stockton did not make the top 25, the city avoided the bottom of list, though regional cities such as Salinas (25th), Bakersfield (13th), and Visalia (11th) were not so lucky.

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Categories: Community Commentary

Author:David A. Garcia

David A. Garcia founded SCL in March of 2012. He holds degrees from UCLA as well as Johns Hopkins University and currently works as the Chief Operating Officer at Ten Space in Downtown Stockton, and previously worked as a researcher/analyst for a congressional agency in Washington DC. The views expressed here are solely of the author.

10 Comments on “Wednesday notes: Obama, Walmart, Amtrak, & Healthcare”

  1. February 13, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    David:

    This is the report showing 227 crimes between last July’12 – Feb’13. This is the data of the Stckton police reported in the city of Stockton own website. Where is the Trinity address for WalMart? I am reading it right?

    http://www.crimemapping.com/DetailedReport.aspx?db=2/07/2013+00:00:00&de=2/13/2013+23:59:00&ccs=AR,AS,BU,DP,DR,DU,FR,HO,VT,RO,SX,TH,VA,VB,WE&xmin=-13524005.792550681&ymin=4556444.826528828&xmax=-13458155.29268309&ymax=4579070.186901209

  2. February 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    David, I reset the map to report crimes in Stockton for the entire year 2/7/12 to 2/13/13 (1 yr +1week). If you use your directional keys then you can look at the Park West Place area where the specific locations of crime are reported.

    WalMart only shows 11 cases for the entire year. In comparison the office building and its adjacent structure show 6. When you look at the shopping area east of Trinity Parkway where more than 600,000 sf of retail are concentrated, the number of cases is much bigger. I can’t count them all but they look like 5-6 times bigger than WalMart’s.

    Therefore this Walmart thesis needs to be re-examined. BTW, looking at other neighborhoods of Stockton Park West Place looks likes a pre-admission area to paradise.

    http://www.crimemapping.com/map.aspx?aid=1deb1fab-a4a0-45ab-bd90-7b939b324bf0

    • David Garcia
      February 14, 2013 at 7:07 am #

      Hello Dean,

      I don’t think you were able to look back across the entire year. The map only has data through last August, 2012, so there is no way to compare the entire year’s worth of data. The link you have included is only for the past 7 days, so that is a pretty small sample size. However, if you expand the search parameters to include every crime from today back to late August– the furthest back you can go– you will see that the Walmarts account for 236 crime reports at Hammer Lane and 79 at Trinity Parkway (you can tell it’s for WM and not Lowe’s or Target because the icon is on the Walmart side of the street. the Lowe’s side shows just 3 crimes.) The link below should take you to the map I am referring to.

      http://www.crimemapping.com/map.aspx?ll=-13511405.02900503,4586464.8722235225&z=17&mc=world-street&cc=AR,AS,BU,DP,DR,DU,FR,HO,VT,RO,SX,TH,VA,VB,WE&db=8/18/2012&de=2/13/2013

      The bigger thesis may be that crime is focused not just with Walmart, but all large retail centers. If you look at the malls, there are large amounts of crime reports as well (though none surpass the 236 crimes reported over the last 6 moths at the Hammer Lane Walmart.) However, I would argue that the city’s Walmart’s experience a disproportionately high number of crime reports based on their size relative to the other, larger shopping centers.

      On another note, in terms of comparing areas, it might make more sense to limit the parameters to serious crimes (murder, gun violence, burglary, aggravted assault, as defined by the FBI’s definition). Because, as you note, all large retail centers experience their share of petty crimes.

      Of course, these are raw statistics, and to definitely say Walmarts lead to higher crime rates requires a statistical analysis, so everything we talk about here is refutable.

      • February 14, 2013 at 10:19 am #

        Hello David:

        I think you are misusing the site. Go to the precise link you just gave me. Then go to your right hand side bar which allows you to zoom in or out. Click once to zoom out.

        You will then see that the 79 crimes you are reporting are on the other side of Trinity. In fact the flags are overlapping there and as you can see the non-WalMart side of Trinity is infested with crimes. Even the office (which you would normally consider safe) has its share of serious crimes.

        The only crimes associated with Walmart are 11 and if you click into them to get the detail, they kind of make sense. Two were reported bike thefts, and the others with typical parking lot mischief.

        Unless you are telling me that the 11 crimes associated with WalMart(closest to it actual location) belong to the apartments across the street?

        I think since you raised the issue of crime you have the responsibility to follow through now and uncover the truth and nothing but the truth. 🙂

      • David Garcia
        February 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

        The 11 crimes you see are associated with the Consumnes River Drive address, so it can’t be Walmart (or there is an error with reporting). The 79 crimes are attributed to the 10300 block of Trinity Parkway, and Walmart is located on this block (10355 Trinity Parkway). I am not sure where you see crime in regards to the medical offices, they appear to be crime-free, along with the Spanos building. For a better perspective, select the “Labeled Satellite” view of the map in the upper right hand corner, it gives a better since of where the actual business are located.

  3. February 15, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    You must be looking at something different. The east side of Trinity Parkway is heavily more weighted on reported crime according to icon formation on the website screen.

    As far as Consumnes is concerned the supercenter has a very large entry and access to it. So it is quite conceivable that the flag (of 11 crimes) which happens to be on the WalMart side of Consumnes is indeed WalMart related. After all The long side of Wal Mart is on Consumnes and not Trinity.

    And if your theory is correct then the apartments generate a substantial and disproportionate amount of crime, which I believe they don’t.

    Regarding the office and surrounding structures there are certainly serious crimes associated with them and under no circumstances “crime free” as you report. I can even give the citation numbers from the website, it’s all in there but you seem to have some sort of screen over you eyes for whatever reasons.

    What you may want to do is re-thing the value of this crimemapping website and understand better how it’s being fed and used. Are these crimes that they have a precise locational back up? or simply an electronic site where citizens are directed to file their own reports/complaints because the police feels that they are too petty or inconsequential to trigger a police unit response?

    As far as the 10300 block Trinity “theory”, you might as well forget it. Unless you can prove with hard evidence that the crime is specific box generated, it’s quite obvious to me that the biggest transgressor is the east side of the 10300 Trinity Blvd and not the west. After all there are 800,000 sq.ft of combined space on the east side of Trinity #including office and others# vs. only 200,000 sq.f.t on the west side of Trinity Parkway.

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