According Christopher Ingraham writing in the Washington Post, I’m living in the best place in the USA.
Ventura County, Calif., is the absolute most desirable place to live in America.
I know this because in the late 1990s the federal government devised a measure of the best and worst places to live in America, from the standpoint of scenery and climate. The “natural amenities index” is intended as “a measure of the physical characteristics of a county area that enhance the location as a place to live.”
The index combines “six measures of climate, topography, and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer.” Those qualities, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, include mild, sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation, and access to a body of water.
These “natural aspects of attractiveness,” as the USDA describes them, are intended to be constant and relatively immutable. They’re not expected to change much over time, so the USDA hasn’t updated its data beyond the initial 1999 scoring. “Natural amenities pertain to the physical rather than the social or economic environment,” the USDA writes. Things like plants, animals or the human environment are excluded by definition. “We can measure the basic ingredients, not how these ingredients have been shaped by nature and man.” I stumbled on these numbers after reading about a recent study linking natural amenities to religiosity. (U.S. counties with nicer weather and surroundings tend to have less religious residents.)
I knew this place was nice. But wait, there’s another shoe…
An earthquake along the California coast could pose a greater tsunami threat to the Ventura area than previously understood, according to a new study published Tuesday by UC Riverside and U.S. Geological Survey scientists.
Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, the study found that tsunami floodwaters could reach points in the Ventura vicinity beyond the area currently marked in California’s official tsunami inundation map. Tsunami wave heights could approach as high as 20 feet in the Ventura Harbor and Channel Islands Beach area near Oxnard.
A California Geological Survey official said the agency will study the report. The agency is in the midst of creating a second edition of tsunami inundation maps after publishing the first version about six years ago.