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The proposed new LA City Council District Map (Photo: laccrc2021.org)

LA City Council Redistricting Commission Announces New District Boundary Approval, Angering Members

‘If this map holds, it will wipe out the results of an election 10 months ago’

By Evan Symon, October 1, 2021 11:38 am

The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission announced on Thursday that they approved of a single draft map, angering several council members whose districts have been radically altered.

Due to population shifts, demographics changes, development expansion and other factors, largely based on new Census data, a number of large changes have been proposed in the Western and Northern parts of the city, with Southern and Eastern cities remaining largely the same. The biggest changes would happen to the San Fernando-centric 2nd District, represented by Councilman Paul Krekorian, and the Hollywood Hills dominated 4th District, led by Councilwoman Nithya Raman.

The proposed new LA City Council District Map (Photo: laccrc2021.org)

Both districts would largely be reshaped, barely containing any land from their previous districts and ignoring many cultural-based areas in the city. While other districts, most notably the 3rd, 5th, and 6th districts, would also see large land loss and gains, the majority of the land in those districts would be contained. Thus both Krekorian and Raman sharply opposed the new redistricting lines on Thursday, saying that the new lines will box out voters who voted for them, as well as give them large new swaths of the city to represent without having to properly represent before.

The current LA City Council District map with focus on the major areas of proposed changes. (Photo: laccrc2021.org)

Both candidates spoke out against the new redistricting, which occurs every decade, following the Commission’s decision on Thursday night.

“The lack of clarity is leaving hundreds of thousands of voters in the dark,” said Councilwoman Raman spokeswoman Stella Stahl. “If this map holds, it will wipe out the results of an election 10 months ago.”

Both Krekorian and Raman were also upset at the Commission, in particular Commission Chairman Fred Ali, for not assigning them new districts, with the proposed new Winnetka-centered district and proposed new Burbank-adjacent districts not being designated a district number.

Many communities, residents upset over new proposed City Council district lines

However, Ali, other commission members, and many community organizations have praised or defended the one draft plan, noting that the new lines were based on census data, the requirement of each district holding roughly 260,000 people,  and the need to not break up neighborhoods and neighborhood councils. In particular, the council was lauded for not breaking up the large Koreatown area or dividing the cities numerous Jewish areas up into multiple districts.

“Keeping neighborhoods together is essential, as they have certain needs that other districts usually don’t,” said Dave Peltz, a neighborhood representative in LA, to the Globe on Friday. “The new map makes sense. It sucks that a few councilmen are left with largely changed districts, but that was where the population shifted the most, and the breakup of neighborhoods just to appease them with disenfranchises residents in those districts. If part of a largely Latino neighborhood suddenly found themselves in a largely non-Latino neighborhood, needs of residents would severely clash on everything from votes on community programs to grant funding levels for local projects. This way there is some order, with breaks by neighborhood. But a downside is that things can radically shift due to new people coming in, which happened.”

Backers of Raman, Krekorian, and neighborhood leaders whose districts will be shifting tried to issue a second draft map that aligned closer to the current district boundaries on Thursday in response to the first draft. Asian-American neighborhoods, largely being separated from one another in the new division, especially in the Little Tokyo, Thai Town, and Koreatown neighborhoods, were among the alternate drafts largest supporters. However, alternate map was rejected to it breaking up and dividing other communities in the area, with many local leaders in those areas blocking it from going any further and the Commission ultimately rejecting it 14-6 in a vote.

“This is just where most of the population shifted,” Diego Mendez, a Los Angeles lawyer who has presided over redistricting battles in other parts of the state, told the Globe on Friday. “No one is ever happy at major changes like this. The trick always is is to change things to comply with needs to be done in a way that makes as fewest people as possible upset. It’s impossible that the new districts will make everyone happy. We’ve seen this before, and today, we’re seeing it happen in LA.”

The Los Angeles City Council will ultimately decide which Councilmember gets what district. Four public meetings are to be held in the next few weeks on the redrawn districts for resident comment on the district map draft. A final report by the Commission to the City Council is due by the end of October, with the new District map to go into effect on January 1, 2022.

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Evan Symon
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