Don’t Forget the 2020 Census


The novel coronavirus pandemic has thrown our world upside down, but when life starts to take a more normal course it is important we be counted. The 2020 Census started last month. So far, Malibu’s response to the government’s headcount has been pretty dismal. So, the Malibu City Council is urging residents to complete your Census forms as soon as possible.

“It’s easy to do it online.  It takes between five and 10 minutes,” Mayor Karen Farrer told the city council last week in a teleconference meeting. 

With the pandemic forcing the suspension of Census field workers, online is the easiest way to go for many. This is the first time in 24 US censuses that questions can be answered online. Some residences may have received a questionnaire in the mail. The Census can be completed by phone, as well.

With so many easy options to respond, it was “alarming” to a speaker at the online council meeting that Malibu has had such a low response rate so far. Speaking remotely, Ben Suber described himself as a US 2020 Census worker/advisor in Ventura County and a “semi-regular” at Malibu City Council meetings. 

“I found it alarming that the city of Malibu’s response rates as of April 12 is only 25.2 percent,” Suber said. He used neighboring Agoura Hills as a comparison, which he cited has a more than double—60-percent—response rate, and 51.7 in Calabasas. “There’s definitely a lot of work that needs to be done.”  

Suber pointed out that some neighborhoods are responding to the Census better than others. Pepperdine, Latigo Canyon and Big Rock are averaging a roughly 33 percent response rate.  Malibu West is only reporting a 19.4 percent response rate. Of course, vacant homes and burned-out lots from the Woolsey Fire have contributed to non-responses. Lack of internet access could also be an issue.

With the council passing a motion to recognize the importance of the 2020 Census, Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner pleaded, “It’s not that difficult. We’ve each got to do our five minutes. Stick up for our city. This reflects poorly unless we get higher numbers.”

Census data helps determine billions of dollars in federal funding for schools, hospitals, roads and determines the number of seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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