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Census plan elicits anger

The bureau's proposal to stop issuing special reports on the San Fernando Valley would harm improvement efforts, officials say.

July 03, 2007|Francisco Vara-Orta | Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Census Bureau's plan to stop producing special demographic reports on the San Fernando Valley would hurt local efforts to generate social and economic improvements, several Los Angeles officials said Monday.

The officials said census statistics focused on the Valley and its more than 1.7 million residents help show how the region is distinct from the rest of the city and county. The statistics also help representatives pursue federal and state funds for the area, they said.

"We need to keep the San Fernando Valley on the map in order to better allocate resources to areas that need it, build identity and to attract businesses," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks).

During the movement seeking the Valley's secession from Los Angeles, which failed at the polls in 2002, some area residents questioned the accuracy of demographic statistics for the area at the time.

Local officials including Sherman pushed for the special reports, and in December the census released its first demographic snapshot of the Valley.

But in April, claiming that few people use the data, the census bureau stated it should eliminate the Census County Division, under which the Valley was granted its federal statistical status. Nationwide, 5,587 other regions also stand to lose their designation. Statistics for the regions remain available through general census reports.

Local officials learned about the plan in late May when a legislative analyst tipped off City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, officials said. Since then, the City Council, county Board of Supervisors and two dozen other elected officials have sent letters asking the census bureau to retain the area's special designation.

The census bureau set a deadline of Thursday for letters supporting or rejecting the proposal. A date for a final decision remained undetermined, officials said.

Local officials said Monday they are hoping to generate more letters of public support, which can be sent to addresses provided at Sherman's website, bradsherman.house.gov.

"For just a few pennies the bureau might save, it could mean a lot of money for the Valley taken away," Greuel said. "This will have a dramatic impact on us and how we measure ourselves."

francisco.varaorta@ latimes.com

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