I have good news and lots of information to share for those of you who have been actively engaged in the headline-making fight over how the city will redraw the lines of its council districts.
First the good news: after initially proposing to take most of Westchester from Council District 11 and assign it to Council District 8, the Redistricting Commission this week voted overwhelmingly to restore most of Westchester to its rightful place in the 11th District.
But the job is not yet finished and our efforts are not yet over. The Redistricting Commission voted to make the 405 Freeway the eastern boundary of District 11, leaving several thousand Westchester residents who live east of the 405 in District 8.
We still have a chance to restore all of Westchester to CD11. The commission is meeting twice more, and the maps still need approval of the full City Council.
What does this mean and what are the next steps?
First, be sure to check out the adjusted draft map UPDATE: Los Angeles Redistricting Commission Adjusted Draft Map and then read the Q & A below.
What is going on with LA City Redistricting?
Every ten years, after the results of the federal census are released, the City needs to redraw the lines of its council districts to make sure the population of districts are roughly even, and to make sure that the City complies with the Voting Rights Act by making sure that the influence of minority voters is not diluted. At the City level, elected officials appoint a Redistricting Commission and drafts a proposal and sends it to the full City Council for approval.
What is all the noise about?
Redrawing political boundaries is always controversial, and this year has been no exception. There have been major skirmishes over how many council districts Koreatown should be placed in, which district should include Downtown Los Angeles, how many seats should be entirely within the San Fernando Valley, and which districts should have the densest pockets of African-American voters.
For Council District 11, there was a major uproar when the commissions initial proposals tried to reshape the district and put some our communities into Council District 8. Thousands of people signed online petitions to object, and 700 people turned out for a hearing to tell the Redistricting Commission to reverse course.
How did the first round of maps impact CD11?
Initially, it seemed as if all of Westchester and most of Playa Vista and a small portion of Del Rey would be placed in CD8. When the maps came out, it wasn’t that dramatic, but it was still pretty severe. See the original draft map. The commission put almost all of Westchester east of Lincoln Boulevard into CD8. They left LAX, Loyola Marymount University and Westchester west of Lincoln with CD11. That’s what caused all the local uproar, and I’m proud to Westchester organized superbly and sent a strong message to the Redistricting Commission.
Then what happened?
Westchester was one of many communities upset by the initial drat maps. And like Westchester, many of those communities made their voices heard. On Wednesday, the Redistricting Commission met for 9 hours and started to revise the maps. One of the first changes they made was to the CD11/CD8 boundary. The Commission overwhelmingly agreed to keep the “natural” borders for CD11: Mulholland on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, Imperial Highway on the south, and the 405 Freeway on the east. The commission rejected a motion by our appointed commissioner, Rob Kadota of Mar Vista, to leave the boundary of CD11/CD8 exactly as it is.
What does that mean for Westchester?
This means that most, but not all, of Westchester would remain in CD11. The “triangle” on Westchester that lies east of the 405 would be within CD8, connected to the rest of that district by a narrow, block-long stretch of land. The commission will consider making further adjustments to the maps on Wednesday, and the matter still needs full City Council approval, so there is still a fighting chance of getting all of Westchester united in CD11.
What does the 405 boundary mean for Del Rey, which has some area east of the 405?
While the commission did not specifically address this point, staff understood that the portions of Del Rey east of the 405 were to stay with CD11 because there is literally no other place the commission staff could put them. That portion of Del Rey is completely surrounded by CD11 or the City of Culver City. As you can see by the new maps, Del Rey is still entirely in CD11.
What about Palms?
The commission instructed staff to adjust the maps to place more of Palms into Council District 5. The Palms Neighborhood Council, which currently represents an area served by 3 different councilmembers, would prefer to have one council district, and has requested it be CD11 or CD5. Under the new map, Palms has two councilmembers, and would be served by CD11 and CD5.
Why can’t they just leave CD11 boundaries the way they are now?
As it stands, CD11 is too big, by about 10,000 residents. We need to shrink some so that each council district has a similar number of residents. Redistricting is sort of like a Rubiks’ cube. A shift of population in Mid-City for example, can cause lines to move, and it creates movement in other parts of the map.
What are the next steps and how can we influence it?
The Redistricting Commission will meet twice more, and then the maps will go to the City Council. Here is the timeline:
Wednesday Feb. 22, 4p.m., City Hall – The commission will meet to consider further revisions to draft maps, and give final instructions on amendments and changes to staff.
Wednesday, Feb, 29. 4 pm, City Hall – The commission will hold its final meeting, approve its proposed maps, and send them to the City Council for review.
March – The proposed maps will be sent to the Rules & Elections Committee of the City Council. The committee has yet to outline a process or timeframe, but it is widely expected the matter will be considered by the full City Council by April 1. The council can make changes to the commission’s proposed map.
July 1 – the new maps go into effect.
For more information on the redistricting process, please see the Redistricting Commission’s website.