California Census mailing snafu : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Article last updated: Friday, March 17, 2000 4:19 AM MST Census mailing snafu bothers border residents Forms have wrong city listed for street address

By Glenn Chapman STAFF WRITER

OAKLAND -- Census Bureau mailings that list the wrong city in the address have Oakland-Piedmont border dwellers worried they might mistakenly be counted as living in the wrong town.

As of Thursday, four people living in the Warfield Avenue area of Oakland had taken their concerns to District 2 Councilmember John Russo, who referred them to the Census Bureau.

Geographic pinpoints

Bureau officials contend that a 22-digit code number assigned to each census form geographically pinpoints each house in its correct city.

"Our geography department people work year around getting people and blocks assigned to the appropriate jurisdictions," said Linda Clark, a census supervisor in the Bay Area. "These lists have been fine-tuned for a long time, and the chances of the geographical code being wrong are very slight."

Clark said she is among Oakland residents who live near the Piedmont border and that she routinely receives mail listing her street address but naming the neighboring city.

"I can understand their concerns," Clark said. "If I get on a mailing list from the San Francisco Symphony, everything I get from them says Piedmont no matter how many times I write I am from Oakland."

Victor Rosario, who has lived about two blocks from Piedmont for seven years, said campaign literature he received from Russo before the recent election even listed his address as being in Piedmont.

"Something is really wrong here when local politicians can't figure out we are in Oakland," Rosario said. "The straw that broke the camel's back was when the census came addressed to Piedmont."

Census maps

Each year, census specialists visit communities and analyze maps to pinpoint where communities begin and end, said Rick Campbell, who has been a census geographer for 17 years.

Census maps are sent to cities and counties each year so local officials can check the accuracy, Campbell said.

Census mailing lists correlated to local ZIP codes could mistakenly lead to Piedmont or San Leandro being written on an envelope but would not alter the location data encoded on the forms, Campbell said.

"It is not going to be a problem as far as where we count them actually being," Campbell said. "When we get the form back, we know exactly where that house is based on the geo-code we assign to them."

Rosario said he and his neighbors would feel more confident in the census if the bureau got their addresses right on the envelopes.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 17, 2000

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