According to the recently released 2010 State of Orange County survey, conducted by Brandman University and based on phone interviews of 675 adults, today’s shaky economy is the most significant problem facing the county. Current and future problems facing our public schools are the second most important issue. Concerns about immigration come in third.
Results were compared to UC Irvine’s 2000 Orange County annual survey. Ten years ago, the key issues, in order of importance, were crime and gang activity, education problems and the future of El Toro’s former Marine Corp Air Station.
Other selected details of the survey are as follows:
• Just over one-third of surveyed parents with children in public schools (35 percent) rated the schools as fair or poor; the figure in 2000 was nearly identical, at 33 percent.
• The immigration issue is a greater concern today, due to the current economic problems. Nevertheless, 40 percent see immigrants as a benefit, due to their work and skills. Ten years ago, 31 percent thought immigrants were a burden. That percentage has risen to 50 percent today.
• Orange County has become more accepting of gay rights. Just over half of the survey respondents believe that gays should be able to marry and hold public office, and 74 percent believe that they should have the right to openly serve in the military. This figure is up from 62 percent in 2000.
• Orange County residents are evenly divided about climate change: 54 percent see global warming as a proven fact, while the remaining survey takers aren’t convinced that this is a real concern.
• Half of the respondents would consider purchasing an electric car that could travel at least 100 miles without a charge, and 59 percent would consider a hybrid the next time they purchase a vehicle. Only 3 percent currently own a hybrid.
• Green jobs have entered the mainstream in the county, according to the survey. Nearly half of the respondents believe it is “somewhat likely” that green jobs – solar power, energy conservation, renewable materials and the like – will employ thousands of workers in the area; 19 percent see this shift as “very likely.”