Statement: “El Cajon is the poorest city in the county,” said former state Sen. Wadie Deddeh in a June 9 Voice of San Diego op-ed.
Determination: Mostly True
Analysis: El Cajon has long been home to many of San Diego County’s poorer residents, but the city is now in the middle of a heated conversation about its future. Former state lawmaker Wadie Deddeh supports local government reforms being pushed by Neighborhood Market Association head Mark Arabo, including term limits for City Council members and median income caps for city officials.
“These measures are to make El Cajon better,” Deddeh wrote in an op-ed supporting Arabo. “They’re to clean up the culture of racism in El Cajon, to put a stop to the irresponsible excessiveness by the city’s officials while its citizens remain the poorest in the county. … El Cajon is the poorest city in the county, yet the city manager makes over $210,000 a year.”
If true, that means changes in El Cajon’s city government have the potential to affect the poorest population in San Diego County — a county with close to 9,000 experiencing homelessness.
Deddeh said he didn’t source his claim from a specific figure, but it’s true that El Cajon has the highest rate of poverty in San Diego County, at least in terms of the federal poverty line — about a fourth of El Cajon’s residents earn an income that falls below poverty level, or $11,770 per year for one person.
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Congratulations on worst Graphics of the Week. Ever consider rotating the labels on the x-axis of those graphs?
It would be interesting to see these charts with the City of San Diego broken into smaller areas - neighborhoods or planning areas - since it is so large compared to other cities. Does that exist somewhere?
The city manager could make 10 times what he's making now and it wouldn't change the median income of city officials.
@Ron Hidinger Please don't confuse journalists with high-level math.
Good summary. One missing element in this topic is the amount of non-reported income. Cash income, black market income, whatever you call it, it is often higher in areas with high unemployment. That makes areas like El Cajon, Lakeside and others look more prosperous than the reported or taxable income might indicate.
@Glenn Younger Unreported income is specifically that, UNREPORTED. Thus, it can't make an area look any different on the statistics.
The primary reason not to use an income measure to talk about which city is poorest is that it is analytically incomplete. It's the problem with only focusing on the revenue side of an individual's quality of life. If you and I both make 37,000 per year but I have 37,000 in expenses and you have 0, one of us is doing dramatically better than the other even though our incomes are the same. Probably a better statistic would have been to look at 200% of the federal poverty line across the region, which is still poor. As it's possible that some other city has a higher percentage of poor people but the federal poverty line is so woefully inadequate to describe being poor that many don't get included. Using that comparison, you may have found that the City of San Diego has a much higher percentage of people than El Cajon or National City in the band just above the federal poverty line who are nevertheless poor. I'm not saying this would have happened, as I don't have any facts, but it would be a better analytical choice for comparison than looking at median income, which gives an incomplete picture.
@Omar Passons The poverty equation is based on a grocery prices based in 1963. No president wants to update the equation because then those living under the so-called poverty line would triple! It would take a politician with some serious chutzpah to update the equation..