Letters to the Editor: L.A. needs more politicians? How a bigger City Council makes government smaller
Editor’s note: The following piece is an edited transcript of the April 21, 2014, segment of “The Opinionator” on KPCC.
Los Angeles needs more politicians, not fewer. But in its current political landscape, elected officials are limited to the role they play at city council.
This is a shame because, as the Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote in May of 2013, Los Angeles is “a city where the citizenry can use its civic voice by calling, voting, and attending council meetings.”
These days, that is the role Los Angeles elected officials have.
They make up about 25 percent of all Los Angeles city council members, which is a pretty high percentage, but still, it’s a lowball estimate of city council members who do the city’s day-to-day business.
What’s more, as council member Herb Wesson said recently, the reality is that “we are really only at 16 percent of the population in the city of Los Angeles.”
If you believe that, there are some good reasons why you’d believe it.
The first is that our population, the city’s population, has been dropping. Our population is now 3.8 percent below its peak in 1950.
It’s a long-term trend, and if it continues, we’ll lose a fifth of our population. That’s a big number, but it’s not the catastrophe of 2000, which the Times editorial board wrote about.
And, that’s even discounting the fact that there’s still some growth in Los Angeles.
In the last census, there was a net gain of 4,300 people in the city, and that increase represented about 0.8 percent of the city’s total population. That’s a significant growth. But Los Angeles has only grown by