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California cities threaten to challenge census, which shows little growth

April 24, 2011 |  3:05 pm

Long Beach

Some Southern California cities might challenge the U.S. Census after data showed their communities saw little growth in the last decade -- or actually lost residents.

The census shows that the population in Santa Ana declined 4% from 2000 to 2010. As a result, Santa Ana lost its ranking as Orange County's largest city to neighboring Anaheim, which recorded a population of 336,265, up 2.5% over the last decade.

But Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido believes the city is still growing and thinks that many Santa Ana residents who are immigrants refused to participate in the census for fear of deportation or other factors.

"We didn't shrink, and these numbers indicate that we shrank," Pulido said. "In June, we're going to file a protest with the Census Bureau."

Some in Long Beach were shocked to learn that from 2000 to 2010 the state's seventh-largest city added only 735 residents -- a growth rate of 0.2% and far below the national average of 9.7%.

Long Beach is considering a challenge, along with San Jose.

City officials in San Jose, who expected the count to show a population of more than 1 million but were disappointed when it fell short by more than 50,000, said they were starting to meet with lobbyists to discuss the data because funding was at stake.

"That could be a huge impact for the funds that are due to the city of San Jose and to special public agencies," Deputy City Manager Deanna Santana said, noting that grants and other funding were often doled out based on population counts. "The worry is to make sure San Jose gets its fair share based on its population," she said.

-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: The Long Beach skyline is reflected in the Los Angeles River. According to the latest census, Long Beach grew at a rate of only 0.2% in the last decade. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times