I didn’t get a chance to squeeze in all the noteworthy tidbits I came across while researching today’s story. Here are some scraps that ended up on the cutting room floor:
- When interviewing University of California, San Diego political scientist Steve Erie for today’s article on the proposal to increase the City Council from eight members to 11, the professor offered some historical perspective of how hard it is politically to sell voters on the idea of additional council seats.
In the 1990s, both the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors underwent a review of their government charters. After noting that both legislative bodies were representing more residents as the populations of their jurisdictions grew, they each studied the possibility of adding council members and supervisors, respectively.
In the city of Los Angeles, the 15-member City Council was considering expanding to either 21 or 23 seats to make the proportion of council members to residents more manageable.
For the county of Los Angeles, where each of the five supervisors currently represents about 2 million people, rivaling the population of many states, proposals to recalibrate the board to seven or nine supervisors were considered.
In both instances, the governments abandoned proposals to increase seats because they believed taxpayers would balk at the new overhead expenses.
“The trump card was staff costs,” Erie said. “And that’s with the tax-and-spend crowd of L.A., so you can imagine what happens when opponents down here sink their teeth into increasing a very unpopular City Council.”
- For some historical perspective in San Diego, consider that in 1963, when voters increased the council from six seats to eight, the city’s population was approximately 616,500. Today, estimates show the city has more than doubled, housing approximately 1.3 million residents while keeping the same number of council seats.
- Politicos agree that, if voters approve adding more seats, the City Council would likely include a more diverse ethnic makeup as a result.
They said the Voting Rights Act of 1965 could be interpreted by the redistricting commission to carve out council seats that would make candidates of a particular ethnicity or race very competitive.
“It creates districts that give minorities a chance to win,” political consultant Larry Remer said. “We’d end up with two or three Latinos. And we could end up with an Asian on council.”