BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                         Senator Robert M. Hertzberg, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          |Bill No:  |SCA 8                            |Hearing    |7/1/15   |
          |          |                                 |Date:      |         |
          |Author:   |Mendoza                          |Tax Levy:  | No      |
          |Version:  |5/11/15                          |Fiscal:    |Yes      |
          |Consultant|Weinberger                                            |
          |:         |                                                      |


          Requires any charter county with a population greater than 2  
          million residents after the 2020 U.S. census to have a governing  
          body comprised of at least seven members.

           Background and Existing Law

           If a county adopts its own voter-approved charter, the  
          California Constitution requires the county to have a directly  
          elected board of supervisors with at least five members.  The  
          Constitution allows charter counties to elect their supervisors  
          by districts, from districts, or at large.

          There are 14 charter counties: Alameda, Butte, El Dorado,  
          Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Bernardino,  
          San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Tehama.   
          San Francisco, a city and county, elects its 11 supervisors by  
          districts.  The other charter counties elect their five-member  
          boards of supervisors by districts.

          Five counties have populations of more than 2 million residents:  
          Los Angeles (10.1 million), San Diego (3.2 million), Orange (3.1  
          million), Riverside (2.3 million), and San Bernardino (2.1  
          million).  In large counties, some observers complain that the  
          size of the supervisorial districts result in unrepresentative  
          democracy.  Each Los Angeles County supervisor represents nearly  


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          2 million constituents, which is larger than the countywide  
          population in 53 of California's 58 counties.  The extreme ratio  
          between constituents and supervisors can lead to political  
          alienation and a lack of political responsiveness.

          Although voters can amend their county's charter to expand the  
          number of supervisors, there are no recent successes:
                 On November 6, 1962, Los Angeles County voters rejected  
               Proposition D, which would have expanded the Board of  
               Supervisors from five members to seven members.

                 At the November 2, 1976 General Election, Los Angeles  
               County voters rejected Proposition B, which would have  
               expanded the Board of Supervisors from five members to nine  

                 Proposition C on the November 3, 1992 ballot, would have  
               increased the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from  
               five to nine members, failed by a margin of about  

                 On the March 26, 1996 primary ballot, voters in Orange  
               County rejected Measure U, a charter proposal to expand the  
               board of supervisors from five members to nine members.

                 On November 7, 2000, more than 64% of Los Angeles County  
               voters rejected Measure A, which would have increased the  
               number of county supervisors from five to nine.

          Some observers suggest that five-member boards of supervisors  
          provide few opportunities to increase the diversity of the  
          members to better represent demographic changes in California's  
          most populous counties.  They want the Legislature to propose an  
          amendment to the California Constitution that, if approved by  
          California voters, would expand some charter counties' boards of  
          supervisors to at least seven members after the next U.S. Census  
          in 2020.

           Proposed Law

           Senate Constitutional Amendment 8 requires that in a charter  
          county with a population of more than 2 million residents at a  
          decennial United States census, beginning with the 2020 United  


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          States census, the county charter must provide for a governing  
          body of 7 or more members.

          SCA 8 caps expenditures for the governing body and its staff, in  
          a charter county with a population of more than 2 million  
          residents, at either the amount budgeted for the 2020-21 fiscal  
          year or the amount that has the same proportion to total county  
          expenditures as the governing body and staff expenditures had to  
          the total county budget in the 2020-21 fiscal year, whichever is  

          SCA 8 repeals, on January 1, 2021, the authority for any county  
          charter to provide for a governing body elected at-large or  
          at-large by district.

          SCA 8 repeals, on January 1, 2021, constitutional language  
          specifying the manner in which some charter counties can  
          prescribe their governing bodies' compensation by ordinance.

          SCA 8 renumbers provisions within Section 4 of Article XI of the  
          California Constitution, adds a cross-reference to the new  
          Section 4.5 of Article XI of the California Constitution, and  
          makes additional non-substantive changes to current law.

           State Revenue Impact

           No estimate.


           1.  Purpose of the measure  .  In 1850, Los Angeles County's  
          five-member board of supervisors governed just 3,530 people.   
          Today, five Los Angeles County Supervisors govern more than 10  
          million county residents, a population larger than most states'  
          populations.  Even though charter counties can boost the size of  
          their boards of supervisors and create numerically more  
          representative governments, no recent ballot measure has  
          succeeded.  Massive supervisorial districts create barriers to  
          running for a seat on a county board and make it difficult for  
          supervisors to engage with and respond to their constituents. If  
          county government structures don't adapt to the enormous changes  
          in the size, demographic composition, and service needs of their  


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          populations, some county residents may become increasingly  
          frustrated and disengaged.   SCA 8 will make county governments  
          more responsive and representative by adding two members to the  
          board of some of California's largest counties, while ensuring  
          that the larger boards do not increase costs to taxpayers for  
          board operations.

          2.   State interest vs. home rule  .  Counties adopt voter-approved  
          charters to gain more local control over their governance and  
          employees.  Voters in any county can adopt a charter that calls  
          for more county supervisors.  Voters in any charter county can  
          increase the size of its board.  Over a span of more than four  
          decades, Los Angeles County voters have rejected multiple  
          charter amendments that would have expanded the board of  
          supervisors.  Orange County voters also rejected a county  
          charter proposal to create a nine members board of supervisors.   
          If local voters don't support expanding boards of supervisors,  
          why should legislators ask voters throughout California to amend  
          the Constitution to tell Los Angeles County and Orange County  
          residents how to govern themselves?  Should votes cast by  
          residents in the San Francisco Bay Area really outweigh local  
          votes in determining the size of the governing bodies in San  
          Diego County or San Bernardino County?  SCA 8 may not be  
          consistent with the home-rule purpose of county charters.

          3.  Bigger boards, or smaller counties  ? It is unclear whether  
          adding members to a board of supervisors is the best way to  
          ensure that a county government is reflective of, and responsive  
          to, the full diversity of interests within each county's  
          population.  Even if the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors  
          were expanded to nine members, each supervisor would still  
          represent more than 1 million constituents, producing only a  
          relatively modest increase in the representativeness of the  
          board of supervisors.  More substantial changes to county  
          governance may be needed to produce the results sought by SCA  
          8's proponents.  It has been more than a century since  
          California has created a new county.  The massive demographic  
          changes that the state has experienced since Imperial County  
          became the 58th county in 1907 may warrant a reconsideration of  
          existing county jurisdictions.  The statutes governing the  
          formation of new counties have remained largely unchanged since  
          1974.  Legislators may wish to consider whether streamlining the  
          process for creating new counties out of territory within  
          existing counties that have more than 2 million residents may be  


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          a more effective way to create new county government structures  
          that will better represent and serve all Californians.

          4.   Balancing interests  .  Policymakers may wish to consider  
          other ways to balance voters' authority to determine a charter  
          county's governance structure with the state's interest in  
          ensuring that extremely large districts represented by county  
          supervisors don't undermine county governments'  
          representativeness and responsiveness.  One possible model is  
          Senate Constitutional Amendment 17 (Marks, 1993), which would  
          have required any charter county with a population of more than  
          1.5 million residents to hold an election on increasing the  
          number of county supervisors after each census.  SCA 17 died in  
          the Senate Local Government Committee without a vote.  A  
          recurring election requirement could ensure that the issue of  
          expanding boards of supervisors would regularly be placed on  
          voters' agenda.  However, such an amendment would not guarantee  
          that any board of supervisors would, in fact, be expanded. 

          5.   Who's in, and who's out  ?  SCA 8 affects four of the 14  
          charter counties: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and San  
          Bernardino.  Department of Finance demographic projections  
          suggest that Santa Clara County's population in 2020 may fall  
          just short of SCA 8's threshold of 2 million residents.   
          Although Riverside County has a population that exceeds 2  
          million residents, it is not a charter county and, therefore,  
          remains unaffected by SCA 8.  If legislators want to require  
          Riverside County to expand its board of supervisors, they will  
          need to either amend the provisions of Government Code 25000,  
          which requires general law counties to have five-member boards  
          of supervisors, or amend the California Constitution to apply a  
          minimum size requirement to general law counties' boards.

          6.  Let's be clear  .  Although SCA 8 is intended to require that  
          the most populous charter counties must elect at least seven  
          county supervisors by district after the 2020 census, the  
          amendment is drafted in a way that makes it ambiguous whether  
          the requirement that supervisors must be elected by district  
          would apply to the largest charter counties.  To prevent  
          possible misinterpretations, the Committee may wish to consider  
          amending SCA 8 to specify that counties with populations of more  
          than 2 million after the 2020 census must:
                 Elect the seven members of their boards of supervisors  
               by district.


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                 Require that the members reside in the district.

                 Be subject to statutes that relate to apportioning  
               population of governing body districts.

          7.   Prior legislation  .  SCA 8 is similar to SCA 7 (Polanco,  
          1999), which would have expanded the board of supervisors in any  
          charter county with more than 5 million residents from five  
          members to seven members.  SCA 7 was passed by the Senate, but  
          died in an Assembly policy committee.

          8.   Double-referral  .  The Senate Rules Committee has ordered a  
          double-referral of SCA 8 --- first to the Senate Governance &  
          Finance Committee which has policy jurisdiction over county  
          governments, and then to the Senate Elections & Constitutional  
          Amendments Committee, which has jurisdiction over all proposed  
          constitutional amendments.

           Support and  
          Opposition   (6/25/15)

           Support  : Los Amigos of Orange County.

           Opposition  :  Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; Orange  
          County Board of Supervisors; San Bernardino County Board of  

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