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Old 01-11-2014, 01:05 AM
 
Location: TOVCCA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynetarzana View Post
I just assumed that because of the close proximity to LA, Santa Monica would have terrible air quality...that the Santa Monica mountain range would insulate Thousand Oaks for the smog of Los Angeles quite a bit. We have spent three long weekends in TO and each time the smog in LA seemed much worse than anything last the Santa Monica mountains.
I wish! Santa Monica and all the beach cities have the benefit of fresh onshore winds, which push the smog toward the east (Burbank, the San Gabriel Valley, etc.), so the beach air is the best in SoCal. The only time the wind is reversed is during the Santa Ana wind events.

Although one can see smog sometimes, most substances (ozone is usually the most prevalent in the Conejo Valley), are invisible, so although the air may look clean, it's not. The mountain ranges around the CV trap the pollution that is created right here in the CV, and do not "insulate" the CV from smog elsewhere, unfortunately.

Weekends may not the best time to evaluate air pollution, because of the substantial drop in the number of cars commuting through the valley (the CV has become a major commuting point because it has the only freeway that connects the 101 and the 118; the other is 33 miles away in the San Fernando Valley. BTW the plan to again widen the 23 is set). It's been quite breezy for a few months lately, another disguising factor. And since long hours of sunlight reacting to pollutants is the actual cause of smog, winter is another disguising factor.

It would be important to get a house away from the 101 or the 23. A recent USC study of 1,800 So Cal children showed lung damage to kids near freeways:

Associations of children's lung function with ambient air pollution: joint effects of regional and near-roadway pollutants -- Urman et al. -- Thorax

The air has greatly improved all over LA in the past decades. But now there seems to be a wildfire somewhere practically daily. Smog is so preferable to breathing smoke and ash. There was a bad one in the CV in May and a few smaller ones in Ventura and Simi during the year which blew over here. Cough, cough. Expect more; this is a bad draught year.

Here's a site you can check daily. As I type this, TO is listed as "moderate" air pollution, not "good."

Current Air Quality, Forecasts and Advisories
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:45 AM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, California
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Addressing your commute question.

TO to Burbank is heavy. I commuted for years from Pasadena/South Pasadena to Woodland Hills (opposite direction) and could always see that the freeways were pretty heavy in the opposite direction (TO going east). Many folks love TO/Westlake and commute west (the SF Valley, etc) for work.
Not sure about traffic to Santa Monica, though.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:58 PM
 
Location: Brisbane, Australia
961 posts, read 2,325,389 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightlysparrow View Post
I wish! Santa Monica and all the beach cities have the benefit of fresh onshore winds, which push the smog toward the east (Burbank, the San Gabriel Valley, etc.), so the beach air is the best in SoCal. The only time the wind is reversed is during the Santa Ana wind events.

Although one can see smog sometimes, most substances (ozone is usually the most prevalent in the Conejo Valley), are invisible, so although the air may look clean, it's not. The mountain ranges around the CV trap the pollution that is created right here in the CV, and do not "insulate" the CV from smog elsewhere, unfortunately.

Weekends may not the best time to evaluate air pollution, because of the substantial drop in the number of cars commuting through the valley (the CV has become a major commuting point because it has the only freeway that connects the 101 and the 118; the other is 33 miles away in the San Fernando Valley. BTW the plan to again widen the 23 is set). It's been quite breezy for a few months lately, another disguising factor. And since long hours of sunlight reacting to pollutants is the actual cause of smog, winter is another disguising factor.

It would be important to get a house away from the 101 or the 23. A recent USC study of 1,800 So Cal children showed lung damage to kids near freeways:

Associations of children's lung function with ambient air pollution: joint effects of regional and near-roadway pollutants -- Urman et al. -- Thorax

The air has greatly improved all over LA in the past decades. But now there seems to be a wildfire somewhere practically daily. Smog is so preferable to breathing smoke and ash. There was a bad one in the CV in May and a few smaller ones in Ventura and Simi during the year which blew over here. Cough, cough. Expect more; this is a bad draught year.

Here's a site you can check daily. As I type this, TO is listed as "moderate" air pollution, not "good."

Current Air Quality, Forecasts and Advisories
Thanks again for your helpful input, nightlysparrow. I agree that weekends aren't the best time to compare smog, but we would come for four day weekends so we would be there on a Friday and a Monday. Each time we would drive down to Los Angeles to eat at our favorite restaurants (we used to live in San Diego and made frequent visits to LA) and the pollution was always so bad we would all end up with headaches. I understand what you are saying about the ozone pollution not being visibly detectable, but we also never had headaches spending almost all of our time in Westlake Village and yet within an hour of being in LA, most of us would have a headache. I used to think that some of it was in our heads since we would see the smog and start thinking about the poor air quality, until we had children and they independently complained of headaches without knowing anything about the poor air quality in LA.

I looked at the air quality forecast site you shared and it shows CV and LA being moderate and south of LA being unhealthy. I hear what you are saying about the ocean breezes bringing in fresh air to Santa Monica and that makes a lot of sense, but why are all of the other beach communities being rated the same as the rest of LA with regards to air quality?

Air quality is very important to me and I know the USC Children's Health Study you are referring to. I think about that all of the time when I see houses built right next to the freeway. It makes me cringe.

I know that TO has the 23 and the 101, but Santa Monica has the 405 and the 10 which have very heavy traffic from early morning until night most days. I am not arguing, just trying to understand how it could be possible that CV would have worse air quality than Santa Monica. We want to make the right decision as we'd rather not disrupt our children's education by changing schools again when we get down there and figure out we made the wrong decision with our first choice.

Thanks again for your input and I look forward to more replies from everyone.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:00 PM
 
Location: Brisbane, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccm123 View Post
Addressing your commute question.

TO to Burbank is heavy. I commuted for years from Pasadena/South Pasadena to Woodland Hills (opposite direction) and could always see that the freeways were pretty heavy in the opposite direction (TO going east). Many folks love TO/Westlake and commute west (the SF Valley, etc) for work.
Not sure about traffic to Santa Monica, though.
Thanks for your input on the commute. It sounds like a commute to and from TO/Westlake would be pretty miserable for my husband long term.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynetarzana View Post
Thanks for your input on the commute. It sounds like a commute to and from TO/Westlake would be pretty miserable for my husband long term.
I used to work with several people who commuted from Thousand Oaks to Van Nuys in the 1980s. Their commutes were around an hour then. It was a two hour commute for them to get to downtown.

There's been a huge increase in population and building in the last 25 years, so I'm going to guess it's probably around a two hour commute to Burbank and maybe a bit more to Santa Monica. You can't rely on the canyon roads/PCH to get to Santa Monica because of the frequent fires, mudslides, rockslides, etc. Accidents are another thing that create big delays, and when you drive that many miles, you see lots of accidents.

I wouldn't want to do it if I were your husband. A four hour daily commute really takes a lot of joy out of life. (And when the weather is bad, it's even worse.)
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:06 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 12,813,436 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaynetarzana View Post
trying to understand how it could be possible that CV would have worse air quality than Santa Monica. We want to make the right decision as we'd rather not disrupt our children's education by changing schools again when we get down there and figure out we made the wrong decision with our first choice.
Thousand Oaks is a good choice. Don't second guess yourself. Air quality changes daily, sometimes hourly, SM and the CV included. On hot summer days the coast is often overcast or foggy, and since the sun can't get through, the air stays cleaner. The onshore wind also helps. But not always. On hot windless days, SM probably has little advantage.

It's hard to be more specific because air quality agencies rank by county or by big cities. SM is not really a big city, and TO certainly isn't. Ventura County info is always skewed anyway, because of its microclimates. A drive from TO to Ventura crosses 5 of them. The county is pretty much off the SoCal radar. There's LA and there's Santa Barbara. People just drive through VC on their way to SB. There is no local TV station, the few radio stations are pathetic, and the only weather station is in Oxnard, which has totally different weather than TO.

I'm surprised, though, that you are deciding between SM and TO, which are vastly different, particularily in terms of culture. SM is vibrant and varied, with many interesting social options that TO doesn't have. TO is beautiful and quiet, but kind of vanilla and socially dull. TO is good for children, although SM isn't bad at all, but TO is maybe not as good for parents.
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Old 01-12-2014, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Brisbane, Australia
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nightlysparrow, we hadn't seriously considered SM as a place to live until you mentioned that the air quality was good. We had researched and explored Ventura county starting last year because we prefer the Southern California year-round warmer climates and ability to go to the beach, to where we are now in the Easy Bay. Schools are excellent and crime is extremely low where we are, but it is boring and housing prices are outrageous so we are priced out of the market with a single income. My husband had no idea where he would work if we lived in TO, but has watched jobs in the area and in his field, they seem to all be in SM or Burbank. We considered parts of Orange county as well because he found jobs there, but we worry about the very conservative reputation as we consider ourselves to be liberal. Although there have been rumblings on city data about TO being conservative as well.

You are right about SM and TO being very different. I see that SM has some solid schools and from what you are saying, might have superior air quality to TO, but the housing is out of reach for a SFH for us. Not sure how prevalent it is for a family with four children to live in a townhome or condo. TO/Westlake is much more affordable, but it is similar to where we live now, boring suburbia, but excellent schools for kids. It is an affluent area with mostly older parents who started having children close to 40. We have had trouble finding many people like us here as we are in our late 30's and just completed our family. Based on the median age city data states for TO, it sounds like it might be similar. It seems affluent areas tend to be that way as many people were career focused first. We noticed on our visits, that we hardly saw any families out and about which is uncommon for where we live now, which is mostly families. Hence, it was difficult to get a sense of what it would be like living in that area and whether we would encounter similar issues with regards to feeling like we fit in.

We were hoping that a move would also mean the end to a 3 hour round trip commute for DH, which is why we are giving careful consideration to where we settle. He did just apply for one job in TO though so if that were to pan out, we would most likely choose TO/Westlake, but the vanilla and socially dull is a concern. At this point, he has his hat in the ring in Santa Monica, Burbank and TO. Just trying to sort it all out. Thanks again for your replies.
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:24 PM
 
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If he gets a job in Burbank, you might want to look at the Crescenta Valley (La Canada, La Crescenta, Montrose, etc.). I don't know how the air quality is but it's very safe.

Southern California can be so expensive that you find families of five living in a one bedroom apartment simply to get into a good school district.
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Old 01-20-2014, 11:52 PM
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
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Hey Jaynetarzana, good to see you back on the CA forums! It looks like you and your family are considering a move back out to CA after living away for several years.

I grew up in SoCal and highly recommend that you live as close to work as possible. In fact that is one of the 'secrets' to enjoying life in SoCal. Minimize freeway driving at all costs, seriously. The morale of the story is to find where you think you want to live, then look for work there. Many ppl from out of the area make the mistake of not doing that. Remember its not the distance in LA that kills you, rather its the millions of people on the road at the same time every day with you. Just say no to nightmare LA commutes and things will go soooOO much better. Trust me, I learned the hard way as many others learn daily.

Based on what you're looking for I really don't think Santa Monica would work as the cost of housing is so enormous. There are not many younger families there because of that very reason. Hence ppl drive... and driving into SM is not a pretty thing from any direction. The Westside of LA is really impacted/crowded with ppl driving in from *everywhere* in LA including Hollywood, UCLA, the valley, etc...

For the LA region I would recommend sticking with Thousand Oaks, Camarillo, Moorpark, etc... which are really southern Ventura County if you find work nearer to there. Then check out the South Bay (Torrance, Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan, El Segundo). Its nicer than SM and not as crazy, crowded. Homes can be found in Torrance which aren't quite as expensive as the other coastal towns. Though they are not cheap by any means.

You may also want to consider parts of OC & SD which are nice as well.

Hope all works well with the potential move and selection of areas.

Derek
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Old 01-21-2014, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Brisbane, Australia
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Hi Derek,

Hope you and your family are well. We have actually been back to NorCal for almost 2.5 years after a 2 year (to the day!) stint in Chicago for my husbands career. We are in the East Bay, but we still prefer the climate of SoCal after living in San Diego for 10 years, but schools are priority which is why we have been considering Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Calabasas and the areas surrounding Laguna Beach and Laguna Nigel this time (we are trying to stay coastal for air quality). I hear what you are saying about quality of life being closely tied to commute time in SoCal and I agree wholeheartedly, but there aren't many jobs for DH down there which is why we find ourselves trying to figure out where to live within commutable distance from Santa Monica, Burbank, Irvine and Tustin. We have always avoided OC because of the political reputation, but that is less important now that our kids are school aged and safety/excellent public schools/air quality has trumped our need to be near like minded people (I can hear Charles gloating now. )

Last edited by jaynetarzana; 01-21-2014 at 12:26 PM..
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