Bill to Expand Board of Supervisors Heads to Senate Appropriations Committee

State of California Capitol

A bill intended to better represent citizens located in large California counties is on its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to information released by senate staffers.

“A bipartisan measure to increase the number of elected supervisors from 5 to 7 members in counties that have more than two million residents […] was approved today by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee,” explained John Mann, communications director for Senator Alex Padilla, in a statement.

Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 8, authored by Senator Tony Mendoza and Senator Sharon Runner and first introduced in May of this year, intends to provide greater representation for California communities. 

California’s population and demographics have changed significantly since the formation [of counties] more than one-hundred and sixty-five years ago,” explained Mendoza in the statement. He stated it is time for elected officials to reflect those changes.

“Residents of California’s largest counties deserve a more representative and responsive government at the county level,” said Mendoza, saying he believes that this is achievable by expanding the number of elected supervisors from five to seven seats.

SCA 8 will require counties with more than two million residents according to the 2020 consensus to add at least two additional seats to their board of supervisors. These will likely include the five largest counties in California: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Orange.

With three of the five largest California counties housing a population that is over 50 percent Latino and the other two with over 30 percent, Senators Mendoza and Runner wrote the bill to encourage a more diversified presence in local government. Today, of the 25 supervisors representing the largest California counties, only two identify as Latino.

L.A. County, which houses a Latino population of 47.7 percent, has one Latino supervisor, Hilda Solis of District 1, which represents Northern Los Angeles. 

“The current board of supervisor system provides few opportunities to increase the diversity of the boards to better reflect the changes in the state’s demographics,” stated Mann’s release.

The current system elicits expensive campaigns that bill writers claim ultimately limit competition. Their hope is that with two additional seats per county — 10 in total — will provide opportunities for a more representative supervisorial board.

The bill has been approved by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee and will now need approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In order to become law, the bill will have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the legislature, and then by a majority of Californians during the statewide general election scheduled for November 8, 2016.