PASADENA - The city released its quality of life index report on Monday pointing out examples of the disparate lives of Pasadena residents.

Complicating matters, an increasing number of Pasadena residents don't have a high school diploma, which concerns Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh.

"Not finishing high school shortens your life expectancy and decreases your chance at full employment," Walsh said Monday.

The Pasadena Public Health Department's 75-page report details a stark contrast in the living conditions of the city's residents as well as those living in adjacent Altadena.

In Pasadena, 13.7 percent, or 18,282 people live below the Federal poverty threshold, the report said.

Residents in the 91103 zip code earned a median income of $44,358, while their neighbors to the immediate south in 91105 earned a median income of $91,587, according to the report.

The report released Monday contains many of the themes voiced by activists and community organizers in Pasadena - the city is actually two cities, one rich and one poor.

Economics, according to the report, is driving many of the issues related to what Walsh and his department call "downstream health."

Poor job prospects and poor education drive poor decisions and lack of opportunity, all of which conspire to harm personal health, according to Walsh.

Jobs play a crucial role in fixing what ails Pasadena and Altadena, according

to Flintridge Foundation Director of Community Organizing Brian Biery.
"Addressing the income disparity requires looking at the local economy and making sure employment is available to all in the community," Biery said.

Walsh said the city is working on the initial framework of a comprehensive jobs program, but didn't provide details of the plan.

The report shows that 22 percent of Pasadena residents are obese. Part of the problem is what Walsh and other health professionals term "food islands," places where fresh fruit and vegetables are scarce.

 Pasadena's income disparity has contributed to the so-called "food islands," places where residents are more likely to find a liquor store than a supermarket, according to the report.

The solution to the food island phenomenon is not complicated, Walsh said.

"We can do something like urban agriculture, where we bring all the produce from urban farms in Pasadena together and redistribute the food," he said.
Improving the collective health of Pasadena residents is not a task to be tackled solely by the public health department.

"Public health is not something one agency can do," Walsh said.

Walsh said the police department, the public and private schools and the nonprofit agencies scattered across the city must play a role in closing the income disparity and improving health.