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California's Loss Of Congressional Seat Due To Census Numbers Could Impact Central, South Coasts

(House of Representatives photo)
California is losing one congressional seat, while other states are gaining seats as a result of population shifts reflected in the census

Redistricting process could modify makeup of three congressional districts serving region

It’s a first for California, but not a good one. For the first time in the state’s 170 year history, it’s going to lose a congressional seat, as the result of the latest census numbers.

Ron Jarmin, who’s the interim Director of the U.S. Census, says the just released numbers show the U.S. population is at 331 million people. That’s up 7.4% from the last census in 2010. The preliminary numbers show California has 39.5 million residents, which showed 6.1% growth over the last decade.

The census sets the stage for reapportionment, which is redistricting of congressional, as well as state legislative seats based on the latest population figures. What that means for you is depending on where you live on the Central and South Coasts, you might find yourself in a different congressional district than the one you’re in now.

Dr. Herb Gooch is a longtime political science professor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Gooch says it’s likely we’ll see the districts in our region being modified, even if the state wasn’t losing a seat.

Currently, Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara represents the 24th District, which includes all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, and a slice of Ventura County.

Democratic Congresswoman Julia Brownley of Westlake Village represents the 26th District, which covers most of Ventura County, and a tiny slice of LA County. And, Republican Congressman Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita represents the 25th Congressional District, which is mostly in Los Angeles County but includes Simi Valley.

For most of California’s history, reapportionment was a political hot potato, with the majority party in the state legislature trying to redraw districts in their favor, to insure re-election. But, in 2008 voters moved to take the process out of the politicians hands. California is one of more than a dozen states which uses a non-partisan commission to develop a plan.

Gooch says there is a timeline in place to insure the changes are in place before the next election cycle.

California’s slower growth is also going to have a financial impact on the state. The federal government uses census number to figure out how to divvy up federal funding around the country. With California now making up a slightly smaller piece of the national pie, so to speak, it means the state will lose out on some of that money. It may not be a huge difference, because the state is still the most populous in the nation, but it will be something.