It is down to the wire and leaders in the African American community continue to remain vigilant about the redistricting effort being conducted by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC).
In fact, this past weekend, a pitched battle ensued as some of the commissioners attempted to condense all of the African American districts into one.
“We had this fight on July 4, and thought we had prevailed,” says Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who said he and others in the African American Redistricting Collaborative were surprised by the move on Sunday.
Ultimately, the commission voted to defeat that proposal and Friday is expected to release and vote on a final set of maps.
With the three congressional districts remaining essentially intact, Harris-Dawson said the collaborative is still worried about the boundaries of the districts, something they did not get the opportunity to address with the commission because of the battle over collapsing the three districts into one.
“The framework with the three seats is there, but we are still unhappy with the details,” noted Harris-Dawson, head of the Community Coalition.
Among the problems, the collaborative has with the current district line proposals is the fact that traditionally conservative Torrance is included in an Inglewood district and that the predominantly African American Vermont Knolls community, which sits in the LAX flight path, is lumped in with a Culver City district.
“Vermont Knolls is in the flight path and has become an anchor neighborhood in the Inglewood district,” said Harris-Dawson, who hesitates to analyze the success of the new redistricting process.
“It’s hard to analyze for two reasons. One it’s not the end of the process and, two, no one knew about the process before (where politicians drew the district lines) unless you were in the Legislature. But I will say I think better districts were produced under that process than under this one.
“One disadvantage the commission had is that legislators know the districts. The commission made a lot of inadvertent mistakes, because they didn’t know the areas.”
Additionally, the collaborative member said that the CCRC process allowed a lot of racism, classism, and homophobia to come to the forefront.
“You see people openly saying that they don’t want to be in a district with Blacks, immigrants and gay people,” Harris-Dawson pointed out.
The city of Hawthorne, for example, has been grouped in congressional districts with portions of South Los Angeles, Athens and Compton instead of with the beach cities where some residents and officials want to be.
Hawthorne Mayor Larry Guidi said including his community with less desirable areas could “destroy the economic growth of the city.”
One Hawthorne citizen even confessed to having concern about her property value, if the commission put the municipality in a district with Compton and Watts.
The commission will vote on the final maps Friday and then wait 14 calendar days for additional public comments. After that point, they will certify the maps.
If CCRC cannot reach an agreement on the lines, the matter will go directly to the California State Supreme Court, where a three-judge panel will draw the lines.
Should there be a legal challenge to the maps, again the matter will go directly to the state supreme court for a resolution.