Redistricting hearings expected to draw ire, fire
Residents get to comment on proposed City Council maps
The proposed draft maps for the new Los Angeles City Council districts have been released, and to say that some people are not happy, is an understatement of epic proportions.
On Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m., citizens in the South Region will have the opportunity to offer input during a public hearing at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, 3045 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles.
The meeting will feature an introduction of the 21 commissioners, an explanation of the commission structure and process and a presentation by the city attorney on redistricting law and criteria.
This hearing will be followed by commission meetings on Feb. 15 or Feb. 22, where a tentative vote is expected to be taken on the proposed or revised proposed maps.
According to the Los Angeles City Charter, these were among the criteria that were followed in the map development process:
1) Each Council district must have as nearly as possible an equal portion of the city’s population—252,847;
2) Close attention must be paid to the requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that result in denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race, color or language minority status. The maps must be examined to make sure that on the Voting Rights Act, they do not deprive minority voters of an opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
3) Traditional redistricting criteria should be considered to the extent feasible, when drawing lines. These include contiguity, compactness, existing boundaries and communities of interest.
As the maps are drawn now, charges are flying that the communities-of-interest principle has been violated, particularly between the 8th and 11th Council Districts.
At a press conference held last Thursday, councilmembers Bernard Parks and Bill Rosendahl assailed the separation of the airport: “It’s unjust to divide (Westchester) into two council districts with most of the population separate from LAX . . . How dare you take the people away . . . the communities of interest,” said Rosendahl.
Councilman Parks called the change a “return to the bad experience, when we had Council District 6 (in the Crenshaw district).”
Parks also pointed out that the entire concept of neighborhood councils was predicated on communities of interest, and this is being destroyed by the proposed changes.
Under the proposals currently on the table, Council District 8 will gain half the Westchester portion of Council District 11. Whoever takes over this district will have to learn all of the complex problems and concerns involving the airport that the 11th District has been handling for years.
Other proposed changes have the 8th District losing Baldwin Vista and Leimert Park, and picking up most of Vermont-Slauson.
The 9th Council District will lose almost all of downtown except the Staples Center. It will also lose all of the Alameda Corridor up until about 48th Street as well as lose Ross Synder and Fred Roberts parks.
If drawn as proposed, the 9th District would have six housing projects, gain the community of Watts and lose most of its job-generating resources. It would effectively become the poorest district in the city, according to one source.
Council District 10 loses Palms, Windsor Village, Wilshire Park, and a portion of the Miracle Mile. It also picks up most of the Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council, a portion of Exposition Park, Baldwin Vista, and most of Leimert Park.
Now that the Los Angeles City Redistricting Commission has submitted its final renditions of proposed new L.A. City Council district maps to that body’s Rules, Elections, and Intergovernment Relations Committee, a series of hearings will begin tomorrow to allow the public to once more voice their opinions and thoughts of the maps.
This first hearing will be held at 8:30 a.m. at Los Angeles City Hall in the Council chambers, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles.
A parade of residents from different parts of the city tried their best Saturday during a hearing at West Angeles Church of God in Christ to convince members of the L.A. City Redistricting Commission to redraw the council district boundary lines to suit their community needs.
Most talked about the need to keep communities of interest together, and those from Watts pointed out how the proposed draft map would deprive them of even the minimal potential resources they had to improve their community.
As the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wrestled with three proposals to redraw district lines, Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas contended that the current lines were disproportionate, disenfranchising minority groups like Latinos and African Americans.
Molina and Ridley-Thomas said two majority Latino district are needed because Hispanics now comprise 48 percent of the county’s population— about one-third of voting-age residents. They also agreed that one district with an African American plurality is needed.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Sept. 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the Hall of Administration in downtown L.A. to discuss the three recommendations the panel is reviewing for redrawing the county’s most powerful political districts.
The board has until the final day in September to adopt new boundary lines, and if that does not happen then three countywide elected officials—the sheriff, the assessor and the district attorney—will make up a committee that will have to approve the lines. This has never previously happened.
After months of meetings, public hearings and sometimes heated back and forth, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission on (CCRC) submitted its final redrawing of lines for state and congressional districts to the Secretary of State on Monday, and while African Americans are basically satisfied with the results, others do not feel the same way and have vowed to fight the new lines.