I don't know if I'd call Newport Beach livelier, but you won't be more than about 8 miles from UCI anywhere in Newport, unless you live way out on the Newport harbor peninsula, like by the Bluth Banana Stand. If you live in San Francisco, that seems like some pretty brutal traffic to me and I bet you can handle switching to 8 miles of multilane curving surface streets through manicured suburbia for your commute.
Newport Beach sounds promising, as I can avoid the highway. Traffic in San Francisco is actually pretty damn tolerable. I never have to drive on the Bay Bridge and take the bus to work. Takes at most 45 minutes to get to the opposite part of town during rush hour if I do have to drive.
Just FYI, these numbers can actually be skewed if data points get lost, intentionally or not. For instance I graduated from UCLA law in 08 and had a terrible employment outcome for about 1 year (ie, basically no employment).
UCLA never asked me what my employment status was (I never changed my email address or phone number, and I updated them when I moved out of an apartment I couldn't afford due to no income, so I doubt they couldn't find me). As a result I didn't show up in the employment stats the next year. Yes, I would have answered a survey if they sent me one - I was checking their career services website multiple times a day and I was bitter and wanted to be counted, so I didn't self-select out of the survey due to embarassment (although I was also embarassed). When it got to the 9 months after graduation time when they ask about employment outcome, I kept checking to see if I would get a survey, and I never did.
For what it's worth, it has all worked out fine for me, but it took about 2.5 years to get to where I figured I'd be a few months after graduation. Oh, and if you have better grades than me or more hustle and people skills, things will also likely work out better. But just know that even UCLA isn't a guarantee of immediate success if you just get average B+ grades like me.
Would you show up in the no-response in a situation like that? In my school comparisons, I just lump "unknowns" or non-responses into the unemployed category. Good to hear you're back on your feet.
Was the median at UCLA a B+ while you were attending? I have no idea whether or not I'd be an above median student, so I'm looking at schools and trying to gauge what job prospects are like for the average student. In this regard, UCI sounds amazing. The faculty and administration have a vested interest in each student, and in such a small class, each student gets a lot of support and attention. After visiting UCI for their admitted student weekend, I'd almost go with UCI over UCLA at the same cost.