Essential California: What the 2020 Census means for the Golden State

A census worker wears a mask with the words "U.S. Census 2020."
The local-level data is out for the 2020 Census, offering a granular look at which cities and counties saw population growth and loss.
(Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Aug. 13. I’mMelissa Gomez, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Local-level data is out for the 2020 Census, and it offers a granular look at which cities and counties saw population growth and loss. The data could reshape local, state and federal elections as political players jockey to redraw district boundaries ahead of the 2022 elections.

What does this mean for California? Politically, it sets off a redistricting firestorm. When the initial 2020 Census data came out earlier this year, California lost a congressional seat for the first time in state history. As my colleagues Melanie Mason and Seema Mehta report, the focus in the coming months will be on where that seat comes from.


It could come from Los Angeles County, which saw a drop in population. But the Redistricting Commission would probably have to choose between majority-Latino districts or ones that are usually held by Black legislators, and doing so could hurt the panel’s image. Another option might be to redraw district lines around Santa Clarita for the 25th Congressional District swing seat, held by Republican Mike Garcia.

It’s important to keep in mind that the political gerrymandering affects not just congressional seats, but the state Senate and Assembly, school district boards of education and, yes, even water districts. One Democratic redistricting expert said the gerrymandering to come will have a huge impact on local governments. And while congressional races and candidates get the most news coverage, it’s local government that affects your everyday life.

Nationally, the racial makeup of the country saw some changes as well. White people, who make up 57.8% of the population, experienced a decline in the overall share. Meanwhile, the number of Latinos grew to 18.7%, making them the second-largest ethnic group in the country.

In California, a majority-minority state, Latinos make up 39.4% of the residents, and some areas are becoming increasingly more diverse. The Sacramento region, for the first time, is now majority nonwhite. Consider checking out your local newspaper for even more detailed coverage of what the 2020 Census data says about your community.

It’s also worth noting that the number of people who identified as more than one race increased exponentially. According to the Census Bureau, 33.8 million people identified themselves as more than one race, compared to just 9 million in the 2010 Census Bureau.

[Read the story “2020 Census shows slow growth and declining white population, as redistricting frenzy begins” in the Los Angeles Times.]


And now, here’s what’s happening across California.

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.

San Francisco becomes the first major U.S. city to require full vaccination for indoor activity. Mayor London Breed announced Thursday that the city, where nearly 80% of residents are fully vaccinated, will need to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor venues as COVID-19 cases surge again. San Francisco Chronicle

A former La Jolla television executive has agreed to plead guilty in the college admissions bribery scandal. Elisabeth Kimmel is the 32nd parent to plead guilty after getting caught up in the sweeping “Operation Varsity Blue” FBI investigation. San Diego Union-Tribune

Britney Spears’ father has agreed to eventually step down as her conservator. In recent court documents, Jamie Spears has indicated that he will follow an “orderly transition” to a new conservator for the pop star after she made it clear she would like him removed. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles Unified students are returning to campus next week. Parents, if you have back-to-school questions, our reporters have answers. Los Angeles Times

A student and his mother pick up school textbooks.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles police officers keep getting caught maskless. LAPD officers are supposed to wear face coverings while in public or in the workplace, yet many have been caught without masks at crime scenes, traffic stops and inside police stations. Los Angeles Times

The story behind Leimert Park’s African Marketplace. After years of dealing with neighborhood complaints and city bureaucracy, the market has been revitalized after receiving a permit. The LAist

A judge dismissed a sexual battery charge against Harvey Weinstein. Defense attorneys for Weinstein, who was indicted on other counts of rape and forcible oral copulation in April, argued that the statute limitations on a sexual battery charge had expired. Los Angeles Times


With a month to go before the recall election, President Biden has Newsom’s back. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are working on potential campaign appearances on behalf of Newsom, surely a welcome addition for the Democratic governor. Los Angeles Times

What do clean energy jobs look like anyway? If President Biden is successful in passing his climate change plans through Congress, it may mean more blue-collar union jobs, such as the ones at a Central Valley renewable energy facility. Los Angeles Times


Despite barriers to equitable healthcare, Native Americans are among the most vaccinated groups. Data collected from several states and counties show that Native Americans get vaccinated at a higher rate than white, Black, Latino and Asian American populations. Los Angeles Times

Orange County is seeing a sharp increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. This week, the county saw nearly 500 people hospitalized for COVID-19 — the highest number in the past six months. Los Angeles Times

Worried about showing proof of vaccination? With the rise in COVID-19 cases, proof of vaccination is becoming an increasingly popular idea. Here’s a guide on how to make sure you’re ready. Los Angeles Times

Want to get paid for helping someone get vaxxed? The Contra Costa Health Services is offering anyone over age 14 $100 for persuading someone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Mercury News


The latest climate report from the United Nations shows our situation is alarming. If you’re feeling helpless about our climate crisis, here are some steps you can take. Los Angeles Times

Sometimes, words aren’t enough. The Dixie fire, the second-largest wildfire in state history, is devastating communities. Times photojournalist Mel Melcon shows us what he saw in Greenville. Los Angeles Times

Drought is depleting this coastal town’s water supply. Mendocino, where redwoods meet the sea, is struggling with the worst drought on record. Los Angeles Times


Want to go to Coachella? Get vaxxed. The company behind the Coachella music festival announced a mandatory vaccination policy for future shows. Los Angeles Times

Billie Jean joins the L.A. Times Book Club with her book, “All In.” Read an excerpt from Jean’s autobiography. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: sunny, 84. San Diego: sunny, 81. San Francisco: cloudy, 66. San Jose: sunny, 81. Fresno: sunny, 104. Sacramento: cloudy, 99.

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