Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

City Council Redistricting: “What Just Happened?”

The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission’s Draft Plan K 2.5 Amendment 4, resulting from the most recent commission meeting on Tuesday, October 19. (Click the map to see an interactive version that can be zoomed to any location in the city.)


Whiplash-inducing roller coaster rides have nothing on the latest meeting of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission on Tuesday night, which featured a major reversal of one decision made by the commission just a day earlier, contemplation (twice) of reversing another major decision made at that meeting, and a vote to reunite the Melrose neighborhood with the rest of its Mid City West Neighborhood Council neighbors…which was done by moving parts of the Greater Wilshire area into a second council district, possibly (but it turns out not really) at that body’s invitation.

All of which left many people (including both stakeholders and at least a few of the commissioners themselves) scratching their heads and asking, “What just happened?”


Local Issues


Although it came fairly late in the meeting, one of the meeting’s biggest – and most surprising – issues for the Buzz’s local readers came when the Commissioners turned their attention to the matter of where the Melrose neighborhood should be placed – with the other Mid City West Neighborhood Council neighborhoods in CD 5 (where it’s always been), or in CD 13, where it was moved in another recent mapping meeting.  The move to CD 13 was made by the commission to relieve population pressure on CD 5 when the Beverlywood neighborhood was re-added to the southern portion of that district, at the request of residents who wanted to unify more Jewish neighborhoods in the area.  The move put CD 5 above its population limits, though, so mapping consultant Paul Mitchell proposed moving the Melrose area north of Melrose Ave. into CD 13…and when a number of community groups spoke out to request that both sides of the Melrose business district be kept together, the CD 13 line was moved even further south, to Rosewood Ave.


Discussion of Mid-City West’s Melrose neighborhood (red), from Rosewood Ave. on the south to the West Hollywood border at the north, which had been split off from its other Mid City West neighborhoods in CD 5, and moved into CD 13, then moved back to CD 5 at Tuesday’s redistricting meeting.


But being united in CD 13 still didn’t please Melrose stakeholders or the Mid City West Neighborhood Council, so the commission took another look on Tuesday at possibly moving Melrose back into CD 5.  The problem that originally led to the split, however, was still apparent – CD 5, as currently drawn, is pretty significantly above its mandated population target.  And the Melrose area has about 7,800 people in it, so moving it back into CD 5 would mean an equal number of people would have to be trimmed from another part of CD 5.

For a while, it seemed like an unsolvable problem, since the commission had already voted to unite several parts of Franklin Canyon, to the north, in CD 5, and to honor many requests from the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area, to the east, to keep it whole in CD 5.  And there just weren’t any other places to trim.

But just as it was looking like the issue might be a non-starter, Commissioner Rocky Delgadillo, who was appointed by CD 5 and used to live in the Windsor Village neighborhood of the GWNC area, spoke up to say that he has “had outreach from the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council,” which was “willing to be part of the solution, based on conversations I’ve had with some of their members, and would be willing to have certain parts of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council given to CD 13…”

Delgadillo suggest that mapping consultant Paul Mitchell, based on this GWNC input, move to CD 13 the part of the Greater Wilshire area north of Melrose, between La Brea and Wilcox (also known as GWNC’s Area 8 or Melrose neighborhood), and then the area between Wilton and Western, from Melrose to Beverly (GWNC’s Area 9, a.k.a. the Oakwood-Maplewood-St. Andrews neighborhood).  Mitchell tried this, and found that it would provide most of the population relief needed to move the Melrose area back into CD 5, so the commission quickly agreed by consensus to make the changes.  (CD 5 was still about 1,000 people over its population target after the moves, but Commission Chair Fred Ali said that number could probably be taken care of with some other minor moves, and he instructed the commission staff to do that work before the next meeting.)


Before and after: Draft Plan K 2.5’s version of the MCWNC area (blue outline at left), which had most of the area in CD 5, except the Melrose neighborhood (purple) in CD 13, while the GWNC area (red outline) remained whole in CD5.  Map at the right shows how things were changed during Tuesday’s meeting:  the MCWNC area is now mostly whole in CD 5 (except for a small part of of Miracle Mile in CD 10 at the SE corner), while two neighborhoods in the GWNC area (green rectangles) were moved to CD 13.


While the Mid City West/GWNC trades seemed to go smoothly and quickly at the meeting, however, lots of phones were lighting up in the Greater Wilshire area, with people asking who requested or authorized the GWNC changes.  GWNC President Conrad Starr told the Buzz yesterday that it was definitely not the GWNC itself, nor any of its officers.  According to Starr, the GWNC’s official position is still the same as it has been for several months, and as it has previously been conveyed to the Redistricting Commission: “The GWNC’s preferred option is to be unified in one Council District” and “The GWNC is completely any further splitting of our area—or worse, the introduction of additional Council Districts to our map.”

Starr confirmed that a possible motion to amend this position, to allow for a small percentage of the GWNC area to be moved to another district, was on the board’s agenda for its meeting last week, but he said the item wound up tabled, and not voted on, so there was no official effort by the Council to promote this message.


One Reversal and Another Possible Do-Over


But the Melrose reversal wasn’t the only whiplash moment at Tuesday’s meeting.  Three meetings ago, the Commission acknowledged a number of requests from Encino stakeholders to include the adjoining Sepulveda Basin recreation area, which was originally mapped into District “4-or-2,” in District 3 with their community.  But after that change was made, an equally vocal number of stakeholders from the much less affluent District 4-or-2 spoke up at a later meeting to object to the change…and the Commissioners voted to move the Basin back into District 4-or-2.  It was a fairly simple change, which did not have any significant population effects for either district, but the reversal seemed to open the door for the commission to reconsider other decisions it made over the last few meetings.  Melrose was one of these, and two others also came into play at Tuesday’s meeting.

First, on Monday, the commission had apparently settled a long-standing tug-of-war between CDs 8 and 9 over which district the USC Campus and adjacent Exposition Park museums and stadiums should be given to by awarding the assets to CD 8 in a very close vote.

But on Tuesday, still smarting from the loss, Commissioner Susan Minato, a recent replacement appointee from CD 9, made a motion to move the USC campus back into CD 9, on the basis that it should remain in the same district as its adjacent University Village development.  Commissioner Valerie Shaw, representing CD 8, was incensed by Minato’s move to reverse the commission’s day-old position, calling it “very distressing,” as well as “unfair, unfathomable, and unjust,” especially to the local Black community.  But after Commissioner Charisse Bremond, appointed by the Mayor’s office, repeated her opinion from the night before that the assets should be shared by the two districts, the result was another very close vote…which just barely gave the edge to the yeses, and moved USC back into CD 9, while leaving the Exposition Park area in CD 8.

Next, with the door now seemingly fully open to reconsiderations of previous votes, Commission Chair Fred Ali reported that since the commission voted on Monday to unite Griffith Park and Los Feliz in CD 2-or-4 (Draft Plan K 2.5 had originally placed Los Feliz in CD 13, and Griffith Park in District 2-or-4),  the commission received a “significant amount” of stakeholder feedback opposing the move and requesting that the two areas be united in CD 13 instead.  But Commissioner Natalie Freidberg, representing CD 13, made a case that overall community input, from both before and after the move, favored the commission’s latest decision…so the group agreed to let things stand.

For about 38 minutes.

And then, after the commission dealt with several other issues, Commissioner Wendy Mitchell returned to Los Feliz and made a formal motion to move both it and Griffith Park into CD 13.   Two commissioners objected to re-opening this seemingly twice-settled matter, but just when it looked like a larger debate might break out, mapping consultant Paul Mitchell noted that Mitchell’s proposal would strand the Silverlake neighborhood (where current CD 4 representative Nithya Raman lives) in a non-contiguous (and thus illegal) bit of CD 2-or-4, and would also overpopulate CD 13. So Commissioner Mitchell withdrew her motion.


Commissioner Wendy Mitchell’s proposal to move Los Feliz and Griffith Park to CD 13 was withdrawn after it was realized that it would both overpopulate CD 13 and strand part of Silverlake (light purple area shown in the blue-outlined box) in a non-contiguous part of CD 2-or-4.


Other Border Issues and Refinements


While the discussions above were certainly the most dramatic of the night, they definitely weren’t the only topics considered.  In fact, the lion’s share of the meeting, and first among the night’s discussions, was a lengthy dive into how to balance the overall population among the proposed districts across the city, particularly across the districts as currently drawn in the San Fernando Valley.

Borders were examined in almost every district across the Valley, and in the end, population imbalances between Districts 3 and 4-or-2, and Districts 6 and 7, were evened out with a couple of small adjustments in each area, as shown below.


Changes made on Tuesday to help balance population in Valley Districts 3, 4-or-2, 6 and 7 from Draft Plan K 2.5 Amendment 3 (left) to Draft Plan K 2.5 Amendment 4 (right).  The affected areas included parts of Warner Center and Pierce College (red box at far left), Encino Village (second from left), North Hills (second from right), and Shadow Hills (upper right).


Also, much more quickly and easily, changes were made to unite all of Fairfax Avenue’s Little Ethiopia district in CD 10…


Blocks east of Hayworth Ave., south of Olympic Blvd., that were moved to CD 10 to reunite all of Little Ethiopia, along Fairfax Ave., in that district.


…to keep the Los Angeles Pueblo, Olvera Street, and Union Station in CD 14…


Area containing the historic Pueblo de Los Angeles and Union Station, which was moved from CD 1 into CD 14 with the rest of downtown.


…and to make a small border adjustment near Dodger Stadium to unite neighbors near Stadium Way.


Area adjusted near Dodger Stadium.


Also, another ongoing issue in the Greater Wilshire area – moving the eastern boundary of CD 5 from the middle of Manhattan Place to the alley between Manhattan Place and Western Ave., to align with the GWNC boundary – was determined to be something that can be solved simply by forwarding a footnote to city cartographers.


Green line dividing CDs 5 and 4 at the eastern edge of CD 5, which will be moved from the middle of Manhattan Place to the alley between Manhattan Place and Western Ave., to match the official border of the GWNC.  No vote required; it can be done with just a cartographer’s footnote.


Finally, a couple of other proposed changes – uniting Echo Park and Angelino Heights in a single council district, and moving the Ladera neighborhood in southwest LA from CD 8 to CD 11 – were discussed, but not made.  The first was declined, after a lengthy debate, because the commission decided to honor the early work of the commission’s ad hoc committee for the geographic area, which had recommended different districts for Echo Park and Angelino Heights based on public testimony about schools. And the Ladera adjustment was discarded because it turned out it would overpopulate CD 11, which borders the ocean and offers almost nowhere else to move excess population off into another district.


Next Steps


Tuesday’s meeting was the last of four public input meetings on the Commission’s chosen Draft Plan K 2.5 (resulting the the Plan’s new Amendment 4).

The next step is a meeting tonight – Thursday, October 21, at 6 p.m., via Zoom – to take a final vote on the map before officially including it as the Commission’s final recommendation to the City Council.

This could be a fairly short meeting (at least in comparison to some recent meetings’ 5-7 hour lengths)…but because there may still be a few unfinished discussions (e.g. Griffith Park/Los Feliz, and finding another 1.000 people to trim from the overpopulated CD 5), it’s possible at least a few more changes will be made tonight before that big approval vote is taken.

After tonight, there will be one final meeting of the commission- next Thursday, October 28, at 6 p.m., also via Zoom – to approve the commission’s report to the City Council, which will include the map approved tonight.

But while the commission’s work is drawing to a close, the redistricting process still has one more big stage to go through:  City Council review.  And once the City Council receives the Commission’s recommended map, it will begin its own mapping process, which could change things even further.  So the roller coaster ride is definitely not over yet, and we can probably expect at least a few more bumps in the road, another hopeful hill or two to climb, some possibly plunging disappointments, and probably a few more whiplash turns before it’s all over and everyone knows exactly what council district they’ll be living in come January.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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  1. Thanks; but what good are these maps that are unreadable and can’t be enlarged? How can we get maps that we can read that make sense?

    • The main map image at the top of the story can be clicked on and will take you to a large, interactive, zoom-able and pan-able online map, which you can use to take closer looks at any location around the city. Unfortunately, many of the smaller maps shown are screen shots from the working session at the live meeting, so they cannot be accessed in any other form, or enlarged without losing even more resolution. I have edited the captions on some of those, however, to try to provide a bit more descriptive detail where possible.

      • Thanks for reporting on this, it’s a bit tedious to follow along especially when the meeting’s are hours long.

        Finding out the first map posted is zoom-able allowed to see which direction our council district is heading when merged into CD5. Then again, we won’t know for sure what happens with the remapping until the council votes. And Koretz (maybe) our councilman instead of Raman for a short time before he terms out.


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