San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors would grow to seven members under Senate Constitutional Amendment 8.

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 07/20/15 – 1:10 PM PDT |

Proposed legislation that would require San Bernardino County and other California counties with populations of 2 million or more to increase their number of elected supervisors from five to seven is gaining momentum in the state Legislature.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 8, proposed by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, and co-authored by Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, was approved by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee on July 9 and the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on July 7. The bill goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration on Aug. 17 before heading to the Senate floor, said John Mann, spokesman for Mendoza.

Mendoza’s proposed legislation would amend the California Constitution to mandate that all counties with populations of 2 million or more, following the 2020 Census, have seven elected supervisors instead of five. Funding for the expanded boards of supervisors would be maintained at pre-expansion levels, meaning the cost for the two new supervisorial districts would cut into the budgets of the existing five.

While the idea of expanded government is undesirable to many, Mendoza says his proposal would mean more representation for taxpayers and would increase the opportunity for more diversity on the boards, which he says is sorely lacking.

Though the populations and demographics have grown and drastically changed in the state’s largest counties since the mid 19th century, the number of elected supervisors representing those counties has remained the same.

And that, Mendoza says, needs to change.

“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,” Mendoza said in a statement.

Mendoza’s proposal would affect the counties of San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange, and possibly Santa Clara County, which has a population of about 1.9 million but could top 2 million by the 2020 Census.

In California’s five largest counties — San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Diego — a member of the board of supervisors represents from 400,000 to 2 million residents, Mendoza said.

“In principle, it’s a good idea: Number one, because every supervisor would have fewer constituents to serve and not be spread as thin. Second, it would be easier to draw districts that could conform to the Voting Rights Act,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. “I think it’s good idea, but the last thing most voters want is more politicians.”

San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles counties have already opposed Mendoza’s proposal, as has the California State Association of Counties.

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