The Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) for Zone E, which includes most of South L.A., will be holding a virtual meeting next Wednesday, July 14 at 7 p.m. and commissioners are passionate about getting residents involved in the process.
Borders for the five districts of LA County are usually due to change the year following the U.S. Census, but this year the committee assigned to make those changes is not made up of legislature-appointed commissioners. This year, the commission is made up of regular citizens who wish to work for their various communities.
“After we draw the lines, it might not look like it looks now,” said Commissioner Jean Franklin, who stressed the importance of those borders. “In 2003, Watts had a freak hailstorm. There was flooding, people needed so many services. Cars and personal items were destroyed because of the flood. A number of citizens tried to contact their representatives. Come to find out, Watts was divided into three separate districts. They couldn’t get the services they needed because of the lines that were drawn.”
Franklin explained that the only way that the Watts neighborhood became whole is when the residents there made their voices heard.
The hearings are divided into zones representing local zip codes, according to Commissioner Carolyn Williams, who explained that the commission anticipates beginning to migrate to a hybrid model (in-person and virtual) for public hearings and meetings in mid-August.
“People can go to any of these public hearings that they want,” Williams said. “They can speak or make written comments. They don’t have to have a camera.”
Information on public hearings and meetings is available at http://redistricting.lacounty.gov.
“One of the things I think is important for our community is to have a voice,” Williams said. “Allowing individuals to have a voice gives them a chance to participate before the lines are drawn. I think it’s important. A lot of times the redistricting process is invisible. We’re not there when lines are drawn and they’re only drawn every 10 years when the census is over.”
Williams said participants can help commissioners understand what is important to the community that is part of the largest county in the country, which is responsible for billions of dollars in services.
Redistricting meetings are taking place at the state, county, city and LA Unified School District levels and most of the commissioners are not independent, most are appointed by someone who has some political investment in the process.
Both Williams and Franklin, the only two Black women on the CRC, believe their open process will yield supervisorial districts that better reflect the community.
Franklin added, noting the deadline for the process. “It’s really paramount that voices are heard. After December 15, we don’t want them to say ‘when did this happen?’”