Aging in Place: What the 2010 Census Says about Pasadena

Steve Madision, Pasadena City Councilman 

Reflecting upon the results of the 2010 U.S. Census reveals a number of surprising facts about the changes that have taken place in Pasadena, and in our City Council District (District 6), over the past decade. The City overall, the numbers tell us, has seen a 2.5% increase in population, with a total of 137,122 residents (although many of us believe the actual population is larger!). District 6 enjoyed the second highest growth rate in the City—up 2, 000 people, or 12% for a total of 21, 771 residents (District 3 was first, growing to 20, 388, or by 15%). This growth in population reflects a shift in demographics, as well, one that is mirrored throughout the City. The numbers show a marked increase in Asian residents (46%—up 1,400 in District 6 alone), and a sharp decrease of African American residents in the City (down 24% citywide). The Census data further revealed that the population of both the City and District 6 were "aging in place"—meaning that the number of people over 50 continues to increase, while the number of children has dropped significantly. Although this trend brings to mind the old saying, "It's better than the alternative," the phenomenon of "aging in place" prompts important questions about the City Services and public amenities offered in Pasadena. For example, allocations of resources in the areas of Health, Human Services & Recreation, Public Safety, and Education, may be strongly impacted. The City Council will soon be considering strengthening its commitment to support PUSD and public education, adding an Eighth Guiding Principle to the General Plan, as the populations of both young adults (ages 30-39, down more than 20% in District 6) and children under 10 years old have noticeably decreased across the City, drastically impacting enrollment and funding for PUSD. Meanwhile, housing prices have risen city-wide. In my view, there is a direct link between the shrinking availability of affordable housing and dropping public school enrollment.

The City and our Council District are growing older, prompting a re-visitation of the amenities that help families and children thrive, and that ultimately encourage people to make Pasadena their home (or not).  Going forward, these and other questions raised by the Census will remain at the forefront of City Council decisions and policymaking, as will any and all constituent input. To that end, a nine-member Task Force consisting of one representative from each Council District, and two Mayoral appointees, has held public meetings to discuss voting district boundaries, and the impact of redistricting on each Council District. Their findings and ultimate recommendation are expected in February or March of 2012. On December 7, the Redistricting Task Force met in District 6, and a couple dozen residents heard the Task Force's status report and provided input. Under the Voting Rights Act, the City's Council Districts must strive for equal representation of all residents, both numerically and in terms of factors such as race and ethnicity.

Two related notes: First, the PUSD is in the process of it’s own districting process; not redistricting but rather for the first time proposing that there be geographic districts within the School District that would elect board members, so each board member would represent a particular geographic district, as is the case with our City Council. Currently, the PUSD Board is elected “at large.” I strongly support the change to district representation. A Task Force has been formed for this project also.  Second, redistricting has occurred for our state and federal elected officials also. Most of West Pasadena will still be represented by Adam Schiff in the United States Congress, but over 90% of Pasadena’s population will now be represented by Congresswoman Judy Chu.  I have met with Judy a couple of times to help her understand the unique and important issues facing Pasadena. Although Mayor Bogaard and I lobbied the state redistricting commission to allow Congressman Schiff to continue to represent all of Pasadena, which they declined to do, the silver lining here is that we will now have two very effective members of Congress advocating on our behalf.

Please let us know if you have any views or questions on any of the redistricting occurring in any of these important areas!

Note: Steve Madison has represented District 6 (West Pasadena) on the Pasadena City Council for the last 12 years.  He can be reached at 626-744-3749 or smadison@cityofpasadena.net.  His Field Representative, Takako Suzuki, can be reached at the same telephone number or tsuzuki@cityofpasadena.net

Posted: 3/20/2012 08:00:00 AM
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