The first reports on California’s new census data focused on growth – Bakersfield adding more residents than Los Angeles – and demographics – the ongoing rise of the state’s Latino population, which is on a path to pass the white population in the next decade.
It’s all interesting. But what comes next is the real story.
The data will be used by the state’s newly formed redistricting commission to draw boundaries for legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts. In Sonoma County, new districts for the Board of Supervisors also are in the offing.
With the population shifting inland, the Bay Area stands to lose a congressional seat. It also may lose two or three legislative seats. In the old days, i.e. before the redistricting commission, Lynn Woolsey’s public contemplation of retirement would have made her district an obvious sacrifice. When I was in Los Angeles lo those many years ago, a City Council member’s district was collapsed and moved elsewhere on the day of his own funeral. Hey, politics ain’t beanbag, right?
We’ll have to wait and see how the commission handles it. But some back-of-the envelope math shows that Woolsey’s district is about 40,000 residents short of the target population for reapportioned districts. Expanding it to include all of Sonoma and Marin counties would put it about 36,000 residents over the target. Mike Thompson’s district, which stretches from the Oregon border to Sacramento’s suburbs, is within 1,000 of the target, though that’s no guarantee that it will go unchanged.
All of the legislative districts that include Sonoma County fall short of target populations, particularly Jared Huffman’s Assembly district and Mark Leno’s state Senate district. One possible scenario would have state Sen. Noreen Evans gaining more of Sonoma County, perhaps even Marin, with San Francisco losing one of its two state Senate seats.
– Jim Sweeney