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Santa Monica Is Spending $1 Million To Figure Out If It's Happy

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Blue skies and beaches in Santa Monica (Photo by Shawn Park via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Despite the sunny weather, blue skies and beaches, the city of Santa Monica isn't quite sure if they're happy or not—and they'll be using $1 million to figure that out.

This may feel like an Onion article, but trust us—it's real. The city applied for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge grant last year, a program that encourages cities to generate ideas to improve city life. Santa Monica was one of five cities in the nation to win the research money. They beat out 300 other cities and snagged a whopping $1 million.

While other winners like Houston, Texas plan on studying recycling and Providence, Rhode Island on predicting academic outcomes of the youth, Santa Monica will be studying the well-being of its city folks.

You might be asking why Santa Monicans aren't sure whether they're happy or not. The AP reported that the real estate blog Movoto recently ranked Santa Monica second place in its top 10 list of America's Most Stressed-Out Suburbs. Insufferable traffic and the high cost of living were the factors that carried Santa Monica into its ranking. According to Movato's study, locals spend 39 percent of their income on rent and the city has the ninth highest population density. There are 92,000 people who live in Santa Monica.

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In the entry video Santa Monica submitted to the Mayors Challenge, you can see people on a bus talking about safety, making friends, and traffic. One woman thinks deeply about her fitness and says, "I really should be going to the gym." Here is the video:

City officials will start measuring the city's happiness level this week, asking residents questions about their involvement in the community, what they think of their children's education, and if they know their neighbors, among other things. Then the officials will look at what they need to change in order to improve the well-being quotient of the city.

"It's really about trying to get a much clearer understanding of who the people of Santa Monica are, what they are doing and what we can do on a local government level to help ensure people are thriving," Julie Rusk, assistant director of community and cultural services, told the AP.

And hey, maybe things will look up for Santa Monica with this new study and the fact that there's now a Dunkin' Donuts in the area. But, the long lines could be stressing them out, too.