Thanks a latte, bad data!
If you think that pun is cringeworthy, don’t blame the Nevada Current. Blame ApartmentGuide for forcing us to write that sentence. Earlier this week, the listing website turned fly-by-night research firm dubbed Las Vegas the “Best City for Starbucks Lovers” based off the number of Starbucks that exist per capita. Local media shared the news.
The problem: The website compared the population of the City of Las Vegas (641,676) to the number of Starbucks with a “Las Vegas” address (125).
While that methodology works for the majority of cities across the country, it does not here in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, where more than 1 million residents live in what is referred to as unincorporated Clark County. Unincorporated Clark County residents do not technically live in Las Vegas but their addresses typically list Las Vegas instead of Enterprise, Paradise, Sunrise Manor, etc. They are not beholden to the whims of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and their city-level services are handled directly by Clark County.
Notable places located within unincorporated Clark County include the main campus of the University of Nevada “Las Vegas” and the “Las Vegas” Strip. Here’s a helpful map, which city and county officials have to keep handy because residents often call the wrong office when trying to complain about potholes, party homes and other neighborhood-level issues.
Screwing up a list glorifying the ubiquity of Starbucks isn’t that big of a deal. However, the methodological error of comparing the population of Las Vegas to data representing Las Vegas plus unincorporated Clark County has been repeated elsewhere and sometimes the implications are undeserved. Most troubling are pseudo-academic listings that compare the population of Las Vegas to crime data reported by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which services unincorporated Clark County. The comparison is not only wrong but helps perpetuate myths that can have real-world impacts on policy and how public money is used.
But anyway back to coffee.
A quick search of business licenses issued by the City of Las Vegas turns up only 54 Starbucks. That number appears to include SBuxes located within other businesses, which ApartmentGuide said it excluded from its methodology. Either way, the City of Las Vegas would not be anywhere near the top of a list of the Best Cities for Starbucks Lovers.
Starbucks lovers should apparently move to Burbank, Calif.