The 2020 census found that Los Angeles County had slightly more than ten million people. Each of its five supervisors represents about two million. To put it another way, any supervisorial district has more people than the entire state of Nebraska. The immensity of these districts makes it difficult to represent communities of interest and establish close ties between supervisors and their constituents.
There’s nothing magic about having five-member county boards of supervisors. It’s a holdover from California’s 19th century agrarian past. Alpine County, with 1,100 residents, has a five-member board and so does Los Angeles, with 10 million. The only exception is the City and County of San Francisco, which has an 11-member Board of Supervisors. Moreover, the City of Los Angeles has a 15-member City Council.
Los Angeles County’s supervisors have opposed previous enlargement proposals and local voters have rejected them eight times over the last century, thanks to opposition from special interests that prefer the status quo. However, the case for expansion is compelling, as the machinations by the county redistricting commission again underscore.