Saying that the city cannot afford to be undercounted in the next census, the City Council agreed last week to a request by Los Angeles City Atty. James K. Hahn to intervene against two federal lawsuits that seek to prohibit statistical sampling.
Council members also agreed Friday to ask Mayor Richard Riordan to include sufficient funding in his 1998-99 budget to help the city ensure a more accurate count of residents. Census data are used to allocate state and federal funds on the basis of population.
The lawsuits, including one filed on behalf of the House of Representatives by Speaker Newt Gingrich, would prevent the Census Bureau from using the sampling technique, by which statistical projections are made to estimate the numbers of residents in hardest-to-count groups.
"This is not political," Councilman Richard Alatorre said. "These are basic services that people expect."
Councilman Mike Feuer, who proposed the budget request, said "millions and millions" of dollars have been lost to the city because of undercounting.
Hahn has said Los Angeles' residents were vastly undercounted in 1990, leaving the city short of at least $12 million in federal and state funds and depriving it of at least one--and possibly two--congressional seats.