Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley among safest for women, study says
Of 261 U.S. cities surveyed in a new study, Thousand Oaks is the safest for women.
Simi Valley is tied with Yonkers, New York, as the eighth safest for women in the study, which was published this month by personal finance website ValuePenguin.com.
Two other Ventura County cities placed considerably lower.
Ventura was ranked 89th, while Oxnard was ranked 201st. Ventura County's six other, smaller cities were not included in the study.
The rankings in the "Safest Cities for Women" report are based primarily on crime statistics and access to health care, the study's lead analyst, Andrew Pentis, said Thursday. But other criteria, including education, wealth and public policy, were also factored in, though given less weight, he said.
Pentis said the 261 cities included in the study were ones for which researchers could obtain complete or near-complete data to rank them fairly. There was no population threshold to be included. There are far more cities in the country than just the 261 surveyed, he noted.
"So we would say these are the safest cities of the cities that we studied," he said.
"We think it's valuable for people to know how their city might stack up in women's safety," he added. "It may spur you to action, whether that is congratulating your local law enforcement or maybe making a complaint or two."
Thousand Oaks ranked the safest city overall. It ranked seventh in education and wealth, 10th in health care, 11th in safety from crime and 26th in public policy and representation.
Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña said she takes pride in the city's No. 1 ranking.
"Absolutely," said Bill-de la Peña, the only woman on the council. "It shouldn't come as a surprise that Thousand Oaks is the safest city for women because" the city is frequently ranked as one of the safest in the nation, and was ranked the safest in California based on the FBI's 2012 Uniform Crime Reporting Data. "So I think the crime statistics and the fact that it's safe for women go hand in hand."
Mayor Joel Price and Interim City Manager Andrew Powers said public safety has always been the city's top priority.
"This recognition is a testament not only to our law enforcement professionals but also Thousand Oaks residents and the active role that they play in community safety," Powers said.
Gracia Rothbart, a 30-year Thousand Oaks resident, said she wasn't surprised by the ranking. .
"I feel extremely safe here," the retiree said while shopping at The Oaks mall Friday."I wouldn't live anywhere else. I love it."
Kristen Webb, 34, who has lived in Thousand Oaks for 24 years, agreed.
"I think it's incredibly safe," the stay-at-home mom said. "I think the local law enforcement is amazing and the schools are really great. I've never had a (crime) problem."
But Sofia Kobrin, 66, a retired bank officer who has lived in Thousand Oaks for 38 years, said she doesn't feel as safe there as she once did.
"I've never had a problem, but as time moves on, there's been an increase in crime, break-ins and drugs," she said, noting that her neighbor once was victim of a burglary. "That upsets me. The quality of people moving in — it's different. It's not the same.
"I felt safer in the city in the earlier years," she said.
Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber said he was pleased that his city ranked eighth in the study, but was not surprised given the number of times it has been touted as one of the safest in the country based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Data.
Simi Valley was ranked by the ValuePenguin.com survey 13th in safety from crime, 23rd in health care, 26th in public policy and representation, and 191st in education and wealth.
"I was pleasantly gratified that our city was ranked the eighth safest city for women in the United States of America," Huber said. "A woman should feel a lot of comfort in our city, I would think."
Echoing Powers, Huber said he attributes Simi Valley being so safe to the strong relationship between residents and police. Simi Valley is also known for being home to many law enforcement officers from various agencies, which Huber suggested was another deterrent to crime.
Scott Whitney, who became Oxnard's new police chief Friday, said he didn't have enough time to thoroughly "review this report, its weightings and its methodologies to give an adequate response" to the city being ranked in the bottom third of the cities surveyed.
"We are always looking to improve public safety so we will review this study in hopes of gaining some insight," he said.
Ventura City Manager Mark Watkins, meanwhile, said crime has continued to be an issue in that city, which the study ranked in the middle third.
"It is something of great concern to us," he said. "We know we need to invest greater resources for public safety and it's been a challenge for us."
Ventura has placed a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot. The measure needs a simple majority to pass and could be used for anything from police and firefighting efforts to infrastructure improvements.
The rest of the top 10 safest cities for women surveyed in the study are Stamford, Connecticut (second); Cambridge, Massachusetts (third); Fort Collins, Colorado (fourth); Amherst Town, New York (fifth); Concord, California (sixth); Naperville, Illinois (seventh); and Irvine, California (10th).
"It is interesting to note that all of the cities ranked in the top 10 for safety have populations of less than 300,000 people," the study states. Four of those cities are in California.
Four of the 10 least-safest cities for women surveyed are in Texas. They are Lubbock (254th), Beaumont (255th), Amarillo (257th) and Houston (260th). The rest of the bottom 10 cities are Oklahoma City and Memphis, Tennessee (tied at 252nd); Wichita, Kansas (256th); Shreveport, Louisiana (258th); Tulsa, Oklahoma (259th); and Miami (261st).
Article by Mike Harris / Ventura County Star