At its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council began its own phase of the ongoing process to draw new city council district boundaries. Although there were two items relating to the topic on the agenda, however, only one – a presentation from LA City Council Redistricting Commission Chair Fred Ali and Executive Director Frank Cardenas, summarizing the commission’s work and recommendations to the City Council – received significant time in the meeting. The other item – a motion to create a new ad hoc Redistricting Committee – did not seem to be addressed. Meanwhile, some of the day’s biggest developments – Councilmembers’ submissions of more than two dozen motions for amendments, largely to several districts in the San Fernando Valley and to what would likely become CD 4, including our Greater Wilshire area – were (as is standard procedure with new motions) also not part of the meeting’s major discussions.
In their presentation, Ali and Cardenas gave a brief summary of the work the commission has done over the last 12 months or so, including establishing some guiding principles for the commission’s work, early discussions by ad hoc committees focusing on issues raised by the public that were specific to particular geographic areas of the city, engaging more than 15,000 stakeholders who submitted comments, maps and other input, and engaging in a very public mapping process in which all maps were available to the public, and the mostly live in-meeting process of drawing the commission’s amendments to maps being studied.
According to Ali and Cardenas, the principles and commitments the commission tried to honor in its work included:
- Recognizing population growth in the San Fernando Valley by keeping five City Council districts wholly in the Valley, with another district that bridges both sides of the hills, but lies mostly in the Valley
- Using Mulholland Drive as a natural dividing line between Valley and non-Valley districts
- Reducing the number of Neighborhood Council that are split between two or more city council districts
- Centering the voices of various “communities of interest” throughout the city and keeping those communities together as much as possible
- Honoring Voting Rights Act rules for maintaining percentages of Black and Latino voters in key areas
- Balancing the population in each council district, with less than a 10% deviation, citywide, from the overall target
After the presentation, Councilmembers were given time to ask questions and express their concerns, and while seven of the 15 took time to comment, two – Paul Krekorian and Nithya Raman – whose districts were the most drastically re-shaped in the Redistricting Commission’s final recommended map, spent the most time grilling Ali and Cardenas about the commission’s process and actions.
Raman’s questions focused mostly on the Commission’s decision to leave the naming and assignment of representation for two districts – currently dubbed “2-or-4” and “4-or-2” – up to the city council. Raman wanted to know why the commission called that a “political decision,” and why CD 3, which was also significantly rearranged, was officially named when the other two were not. Ali said CD 3 was constructed around several current CD 3 communities, so it seemed reasonable to keep the same name there, even though other parts of the district were changed. But the other two districts were shaped largely by other factors, Ali said, so it didn’t seem as logical to assign specific labels there. Also, Ali said that because neither the city charter nor any specific ordinances talk about how districts should be named or representatives assigned, the commission felt it was best to let the council decide which of the more fully new districts should be assigned which name and representative. Raman remained unsatisfied, however, contending that the decision put constituents in the unnamed districts at a disadvantage during the redistricting process, since they did not know which council representative they’d be advocating for. It was, she said, “an incredibly confusing and saddening process.”
Raman also expressed dissatisfaction with the Commission’s regional ad hoc groups and their recommendations, because her appointed Commissioner, Alexandra Suh, was not part of the group that eventually recommended that the current CD 4 become the new “bridge” district between the two sides of the hills, so neither she nor Raman had a voice in that major recommendation (though Ali noted, again, that the ad hoc committees made recommendations only, which the commission later discussed and voted on, and not actual mapping decisions).
Meanwhile, Krekorian took the most time of any of the Councilmembers during the discussion, speaking at length at least three times, reminding the Commission representatives that their job is only advisory and that it’s the City Council that actually does the redistricting. At times, Krekorian seemed to step into the role of prosecuting attorney at a trial, grilling both Ali and Cardenas repeatedly about several topics. The first of these was the commission’s early use of what he called the “secret” ad hoc regional committees, whose recommendations became foundational in the later mapping process. Krekorian also asked many pointed questions about the mapping process itself and how, while most previous maps were drawn by the commission’s mapping consultant and based on submissions from the public, the final recommended map was largely drawn by Cardenas. (Cardenas reminded Krekorian, however, that his Map K 2.5 was actually based in large part on a previously submitted and discussed map – C 2 – drawn by the commission’s consultant, and that map was, like others discussed, based on a publicly-submitted map.)
Finally, Krekorian also contended that public outreach in the Valley was not as great as in other areas, so constituents there may not have had the same awareness or opportunity to participate in the process. And he also contended that the Valley districts did not have to be as severely re-drawn as the commission recommended, and could have been dealt with simply by siphoning a small amount of excess population (about 3,000 people) from District 3 and making no other changes.
As the discussion came to a close, Council President Nury Martinez noted that further questions and discussion of the redistricting process will be handled by the new Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee…which was interesting because although a motion to establish such a committee, which was made last week by Martinez, Raman, and Krekorian, was on yesterday’s meeting agenda, it was neither specifically discussed nor voted on at the meeting. (The Buzz queried Raman’s staff about this procedural issue, but has not yet received a response.). According to a report in the LA Times this morning, though, the committee has apparently been formed and includes Councilmembers Martinez, Raman, Bob Blumenfield, Curren Price, Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz, and Kevin de León (four of whose appointed redistricting commissioners voted to oppose the commission’s final map recommendation).
Also, as is the Council’s standard practice, motions submitted by the various councilmembers yesterday were not specifically discussed at the meeting, but were included, as usual, in a report of motions that comes out after the meeting. And yesterday’s list, which contained a total of 38 motions relating to the redistricting process, shows that the Councilmembers have already been quite busy planning how they would like to change the recommended redistricting map.
The many motions (none of which have yet been assigned a trackable Council File number) included:
- Instruct the Chief Legislative Analyst to analyze adjustments to proposed Council District 3 boundaries, to retain the communities of Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Canoga Park and Winnetka entirely within Council District 3, and with as much of Reseda as possible to retain population balance, with adjustments to surrounding Council Districts as needed.
- Instruct the Chief Legislative Analyst to analyze adjustments to proposed Council District 3 boundaries to include areas from the western city limits to the San Diego Freeway, including the entirety of Woodland Hills, Warner Center, Tarzana and Encino, and portions of Canoga Park and Winnetka needed to achieve population balance with adjustments to surrounding council districts as needed such as West Hills to remain in Council District 12, and keeping the current Council District 12 border at Victory Blvd. to Shoup.
- Instruct the CLA to prepare a Voting Rights Act Minimum Change Map that revises the boundaries to balance for population changes reported in the 2020 US Census to remain within a 10 percent deviation and compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
- Move the following Neighborhood Councils from Council District 4-or-2 to Council District 3: Winnetka, Canoga Park, and Woodland Hills; and
- Move the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, including the POSA neighborhood, from Council District 3 to Council District 4-or-2; and
- Move the Valley Village Neighborhood Council from Council District 3 to Council District 2-or-4.
- Establish the boundaries of Council District 2-or-4, Council District 6, and Council District 7 with the boundaries of Council District 2, Council District 6, and Council District 7 as they currently exist.
- Instruct the Chief Legislative Analyst to provide analysis of an alternative map that incorporates:
- Council Districts 8, 9, 10, 11, and 15 from the LACCRC proposed map;
- Council Districts 2, 6, 7, and 12 from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement; and
- Options for addressing the remaining Council Districts
The rest of the motions were for specific boundary changes, mostly for various parts of the Valley, but also including many (see map below) submitted by Raman to significantly reshape the proposed District 2-or-4. If adopted, the changes would once again stretch CD 4 south to include some of our Greater Wilshire and Mid City West neighborhoods, including Windsor Square and all the communities along the southern border of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area, as well as Miracle Mile and Park La Brea.
In other words, in the Redistricting Commission’s recommended map (which serves at the colored background of the map below), most GWNC-area communities would be placed together in CD 5, as many neighbors had requested. But if the above changes are made (as indicated by the black lines added to the map), much of the area would be returned to what would likely become CD 4, with only Hancock Park, La Brea Hancock, Citrus Square, and the Melrose areas in CD 5. (Note, too, that in at least a couple of places, such as the northeastern section of the GWNC area, some of the motions seem to conflict with each other, so it’s clear that there is still more horse trading to be done before anything is finalized.)
One other big boundary dispute from the redistricting process so far – whether USC and Exposition Park should be placed in CD 8, CD 9, or divided between the two, as the Redistricting Commission eventually recommended – is also represented among the new motions, with CD 8’s Marqueece Harris-Dawson moving that USC be moved to District 8, uniting the two assets there…and CD 9’s Curren Price moving that Exposition Park be moved to CD 9, uniting both major economic assets there.
So the next steps seem to lie with the Council’s Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee, which, according to the Times, will meet on Friday. (So far, no agenda for this meeting has been posted on the City Clerk’s calendar.)
But if you can’t wait that long for more meetings, the GWNC has also scheduled a Special Meeting tonight – Wednesday, November 3, at 6 p.m., via Zoom – to discuss possible motions or statements it might make on the recommended maps and amendments.