Recently released data by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the Latino or Hispanic population of Santa Clarita has more than doubled over the past two decades.
The news comes on the heels of a lawsuit being filed against the city of Santa Clarita that alleges the City Council’s at-large voting system discriminates against Latino or Hispanic voters, and that a by-district voting system would improve the minority group’s representation at the local government level.
According to data released on March 17, the current total population of the city of Santa Clarita is approximately 228,673 with a 78,735 Hispanic or Latino population — roughly 34% of the city.
Following the 2000 U.S. Census, the data showed Santa Clarita having a population of 151,187 with 30,846 residents identifying as Latino or Hispanic, or 20.4%. The 2010 Census showed an increase of Latino or Hispanic residents to 51,941 out of 176,320 total residents, or 29.4% of the population.
The data sets show that not only did the total population of Latino or Hispanic residents increase with each census, but they also show the proportion of Latino or Hispanic residents increased by more than 14%, or rising from one-fifth of the total population to more than one-third.
Other racial groups in Santa Clarita as of 2020 show their proportion to the rest of the population as follows: white alone (66.45%), Black or African American (4.4%), American Indian or Alaska Native alone (.8%), Asian alone (10.8%), Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (0.3%), and two or more races (9.3%).
According to the census, people may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian” and “white.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race.
“The concept of race is separate from the concept of Hispanic origin,” the Census website states. “Percentages for the various race categories add to 100%, and should not be combined with the percent Hispanic.”
The lawsuit filed late last year by Scott Rafferty, a northern California-based attorney representing a group of plaintiffs, invokes the California Voting Rights Act, arguing that a single representative from their neighborhood district would result in more representative candidates for local communities with large Latino and minority populations in future City Council elections.
“By electing its council at-large, the city of Santa Clarita dilutes the votes of Latino citizens, suppresses the ability of their communities to recruit and support candidates for public office, and presents them from aggregating their votes to elect those candidates in single-member districts,” reads the lawsuit. “In recent elections, Latinos, Blacks and Asians have voted in coalition.”
In the past, city officials have told The Signal that they do not comment on pending litigation, and City Council members — following closed-door meetings on the subject — have maintained relative silence on the topic.
However, Councilman Bill Miranda, in a previous statement made to The Signal during his tenure as mayor for 2021, said his personal belief was that redrawing of lines along possible ethnic boundaries could open up new problems in terms of democratic equity. He also stated he believes the present system, where residents vote for all five council members as opposed to a single one representing their neighborhood’s district, gives each voter more autonomy.
“We on the City Council represent every single resident and it doesn’t matter what color they are or what color you are,” Councilwoman Marsha McLean said in a previous meeting. “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, it doesn’t matter at all… We are representing everyone, all five of us represent everyone, and going to districts will dilute our community.”
The next court appearance for the case, which has been dubbed Michael Cruz, et al vs. City of Santa Clarita, is a May 9 case management conference at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles.