Northwood, Irvene, Southern California.



Northwood is a community in the northern part of the City of Irvine in Orange County, California (Figure 5.27). Irvine was developed as a fully planned city, beginning in the 1960s and built on the former Irvine Ranch. It is a classic edge city. The city’s vision statement is ‘to create and maintain a community where people can live, work, and play in an environment that is safe, vibrant, and aesthetically pleasing’. The city was developed around a series of communities called ‘villages’ of which Northwood is one.

Northwood is located on the southern edge of the Los Angeles conurbation about 10 km east of Newport Beach on the Pacific Ocean. To the east are the low Santa Ana Mountains. Some 21,000 people live in Northwood in just over 2000 households. A third of the households are families with children of school age.

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Socio-economic conditions.

In general the residents of Northwood are well-off financially. Their median income is about US$86,500 a year compared with the national average of about US$52,250. One of the reasons for choosing to live in Northwood is access to employment in Irvine. The University of California, Irvine is the city’s single largest employer and offers a range of opportunities. There are a number of well-established high-tech companies such as Blizzard Entertainment (video games), Broadcom (semiconductors) and several medical, pharmaceutical and aerospace firms.

Several TNCs have their USA headquarters in Irvine such as Kia Motors, Mazda Corporation and Toshiba. The area is home to many new business ventures and offers opportunities for start-up companies such as small and well-serviced premises and venture capital. Health care for Northwood’s residents is excellent, even by the high standards of an AC. Air pollution is relatively low as Northwood is on the edge of the Los Angeles conurbation and therefore avoids the smog common in places towards the centre of the conurbation.

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Housing conditions.

Northwood is characterised by single-family houses on relative large ‘lots’ (Figure 5.28). Most households (91 per cent) own their own home and of these two-thirds have lived in Northwood for more than ten years. The average household size is 2.8 persons. Many of the streets are lined with trees, mostly eucalyptus, which are a legacy of the windbreaks established when the area was farmland (see for data based on the US census).

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Irvine in general regularly features among the highest ranked cities within the USA for factors such as safety, management and ‘best place to live’. Even during downturns in the economy, the area retains its reputation for high-paid employment. With its combination of high-quality housing, transport infrastructure, education, facilities such as retailing and Mediterranean-style climate along with the easy access to the beaches along the Pacific, Northwood and Irvine represent the opposite end of the economic spectrum to Jembatan Besi.

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Socio-economic conditions.

The schools in Irvine are regularly assessed as being among the best-achieving in the USA. There are five high schools and several tertiary education facilities. The educational standards of the residents is high, many having first degrees (68.5% of residents aged 25+) with 20.5% possessing masters or doctorates. The overall crime rate in Northwood is 70% lower than the national average. Irvine as a whole is safer than 96% of the cities in California. Violent crime, for example, stands at about 50 incidents per 100,000 people in Irvine compared with 366 per 100,000 nationally. The figures for vehicle theft are 52 per 100,00 in Irvine but 220 per 100,000 nationally. Ethnically, about half the residents are white with the second most numerous group being Asian, mainly from Vietnam (after the USA left Vietnam following the success of the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War, many former South Vietnamese migrated to the west coast of the USA).

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