In quirk, some California residents have two state senators, others none
SACRAMENTO — Many state senators will serve constituents outside their official districts for the next two years to address a quirk caused by the redrawing of political boundaries in 2011.
When the legislative district maps were remade, some new districts overlapped old ones. Voters in only half of the 40 state Senate districts chose representatives last year. Some communities in the old districts were moved into new ones that will not have elections until 2014.
That has left nearly 4 million Californians without an elected representative in the Senate for the next two years, while others temporarily have two senators.
“That happens during every redistricting. It can’t be helped,” said Peter Yao, former chairman of the Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by voters to redraw legislative boundaries every 10 years. “It has happened more this time around because we dramatically moved the district lines.”
Lawmakers last week approved a plan to have many senators temporarily provide constituent services for voters who would otherwise be unrepresented in California’s upper house.
“The idea is to make sure that everyone has a place to turn for issues and that everyone has a voice even though you have this anomaly,” said Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
The problem does not exist for the Assembly because all 80 districts are on the ballot every two years.
State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) of the 34th Senate District is looking forward to temporarily representing 1.3 million people, about 300,000 more than usual, as he takes on new areas including parts of Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I really enjoy reaching out to constituents,” Correa said Monday. “I’ve never represented the beach before, so the first thing I am doing is getting acquainted with the California Coastal Commission.”
Correa said he is getting two additional staffers to help serve the new areas.
Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) of the 28th state Senate District will serve as caretaker for parts of Santa Monica, Rancho Palos Verdes, Brentwood, West Hollywood and Westwood that would otherwise go two years without a representative.
He has begun attending community events in the new areas, which have a population of 387,000.
“I do wish I could double my staff, but everybody’s going to have to work harder,” Lieu said.
In the San Fernando Valley, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) of the 20th Senate District will serve parts of Studio City and Sherman Oaks.
Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) of the 23rd Senate District will temporarily represent parts of Palm Springs, La Quinta and Idyllwild.
Steinberg, the 6th District senator, will temporarily serve 267,000 more residents in areas including parts of Elk Grove and West Sacramento.