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SPECIAL REPORT: Putting Down Roots : The Times Poll : Both Latinos, Anglos Give Communities High Marks

April 25, 1991|TOM GORMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

North County's Latinos and Anglos both report a high level of community satisfaction and of feeling rooted to their community--although the two groups may define community somewhat differently.

Among Anglos, 81% say they have settled into their North County community; among Latinos, 72% say they have, the Los Angeles Times Poll has found.

Latinos, who constitute about a fifth of the area's adult population, as a group are more likely than Anglos to have lived at their current address two years or less and more likely to move for a good job elsewhere, the poll found.

Still, Latinos are overall as satisfied with their community as are Anglos--86% and 85% respectively.

Latinos as a group are more likely to spend time with their families than are Anglos, but fewer know their neighbors.

"Latinos have less of a sense of 'place' than Anglos," said sociologist Lionel Maldonado, a professor of ethnic studies at Cal State San Marcos, who was commenting on the the poll's findings.

"While we (Latinos) may feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging, it is with each other, in enclaves. 'Place,' or our environmental surroundings, is a secondary identity, because we take our primary identity from among ourselves. It's more psychological," Maldonado said.

In some specific respects, Latinos as a group are more satisfied with integral elements of community life than are Anglos.

Three-quarters of Latinos and two-thirds of Anglos are confident that their children will get a good education. And again, three quarters of Latinos and two-thirds of Anglos feel that local parks and recreation centers are safe and well maintained.

Latinos as a group use public transportation more than Anglos--74% use it to some extent contrasted with 62% of Anglos. Among the Latinos who use public transit, 79% are satisfied with it, contrasted with 58% of Anglos who are satisfied with it.

If "community" is defined as who one spends time with, the Latino community is clearly its family.

As a group, half of Latinos say they spend their free time with family; a third of Anglos say they spend free time with family.

Although 50% of North County's Anglos say they know their neighbors well enough to socialize with them--or even to count among their closest friends--only 38% of Latinos say they know their neighbors as well.

While 51% of Anglos say they participate in some form of community activity--whether it be church, charity work, adult or youth sports, school volunteer work or the like--38% of Latinos are so involved, the poll found.

Latinos and Anglos express about the same feelings toward their jobs--87% in both groups say they are satisfied with work.

Slightly fewer Latinos feel secure that they will have a job in 12 months than do Anglos, and 48% of Latinos said they would likely move elsewhere for a good job, while 38% of Anglos would make the same move, the poll found.

Ramon Varele, 38, was among the Latinos polled. He is a security guard at the Fedco membership discount store in Escondido and lives in Ramona with his wife of five years, Sara, and their 4-year-old child.

He acknowledges thoughts of moving to Escondido so he could be closer to work, but says he will continue to live in Ramona--where he has been since he was 3--to help care for his parents. He's their only child.

"It's a nice small town. There's not much crime or pollution, and it's a pretty good place for children to grow up. I like that," Varele said.

Like more than half of Latinos in North County, Varele rents. By contrast, about one-third of Anglos rent, and the rest own their home.

Half of North County's Latinos have lived at their current address for two years or less, contrasted with a third of Anglos who have lived for two years or less at their current residence.

How North County's Anglos & Latinos Compare Source: Los Angeles Times Poll

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