The California State Senate may increase the number of county supervisors from five to seven for counties with populations greater than 2 million, including Riverside County.
Later this month, the California Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Constitutional Amendment 8, which the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved in early July.
SCA 8 will have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, and then by a majority of Californians during the next statewide general election scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, according to Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) who introduced the proposal.
He has bipartisan support for the measure, including Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Antelope Valley), a co-author of SCA 8, who said, “I do not typically advocate for expanding government, however, SCA 8 provides greater representation for California’s communities, which is very important in my district.”
Since 1960, Los Angeles County voters four times defeated proposals to expand their board and Orange County defeated a proposal to add four more seats in 1996.
If approved by the Legislature and state voters, SCA 8 would require all counties with a population greater than 2 million based on the 2020 census to expand the size of the county board by at least two seats for a total of at least seven supervisors.
Besides Riverside County, the amendment would affect Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and Orange counties. Santa Clara County’s current population is about 1.9 million and could possibly exceed 2 million by 2020.
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. In the five largest counties, out of 25 board members, only two are Latino. This is despite the fact that in three of the five counties — Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside — Latinos make up almost half the population. In the other two counties — San Diego and Orange — the Latino population is almost one-third, according to Mendoza’s press release.
“Expanding the number of supervisorial seats for the state’s largest counties will provide the opportunity for these bodies to be more reflective of the people they represent and serve,” said Mendoza.
The Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties boards of supervisors have already opposed the amendment. However, according to Ray Smith, public information officer for the county, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has not taken any public position on SCA 8.