Malibu Still Lagging in Census Participation

City leaders and school representatives continued to ring alarm bells over critically low census turnout in Malibu, as the deadline for the count drew closer.

On the morning of Thursday, May 7, school district spokesperson Gail Pinsker sent out a message including response information showing Malibu’s turnout: 32.6 percent.

That day, Malibu’s response rate lagged more than 20 percentage points behind that of Los Angeles County as a whole (at 53.8 percent) and nearly 25 percent behind that of Santa Monica (56.8 percent). 

“Our own Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District is urging parents and staff to take the Census to help ensure our community’s public schools,” a City of Malibu public message sent the afternoon of May 7 stated. “We need to ensure funding for programs and services such as special education, Head Start, after-school programs, and classroom technology, food assistance, including free and reduced-price school lunches, and maternal and child health programs.”

According to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, residents residing in the census tract containing Webster Elementary—the eastern part of Malibu—had only 31 percent responding. Those living in the census tract of Malibu High School—an area decimated by the Woolsey Fire—had a slightly higher response rate of 36.4 percent. That seemed to contradict a theory that response was low due to the Woolsey Fire.

Due to COVID-19, the original census self-report deadline of July 31 has been revised to Oct. 31. More information can be found at census.gov.

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