What happens when you use math to figure out California's best cities for walking?
The answer is Costa Mesa gets labeled the most pedestrian-friendly city in Orange County, leaving the coastal pearls of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach far, far behind — according to a Seattle-based website, at least.
In a statewide ranking of walking-friendly cities by WalkScore.com, the "City of the Arts" placed among the Golden State's top 20.
Mind you, this elite group is a jumbled-together, motley set whose winners include the comparatively pristine San Francisco, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and the grittier blue-collar Artesia, Gardena and Huntington Park.
Based on an algorithm that gleans data from Google and other websites that plot city streets, businesses and schools, Walk Score says Costa Mesans have it far better than the average Californian when it comes to being a casual stroll away from their needs. Walk Score ranked Costa Mesa the state's 18th most pedestrian-friendly city, with a score of 71 out of 100.
But by the website's criteria, a city's looks don't factor into the equation.
"Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle — not how pretty the area is for walking," the website states.
Costa Mesa has South Coast Plaza and The Lab to the north, Triangle Square off a main thoroughfare and a commercial strip off 17th Street not far from homes. Its 71 score is far above the state average score of 50, or "somewhat walkable."
Cities are given high marks for amenities being within a quarter-mile of someone's home. They're not given credit if the amenities are more than a mile away, according to the site.
Walk Score gave the northern end of Costa Mesa a 70, and south Costa Mesa — the area below Wilson Street on either side of Newport Boulevard — a 71.
Newport Beach, Irvine and Huntington Beach were all much farther down the list with scores of 57, 54, and 63, respectively. All three scores put those cities into the "Somewhat walkable" category. Laguna Beach was given a 49, a point below the state average.