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

City Council Redistricting: What’s Changed Since 2012…Where We are Now…and What’s Next

City Council Redistricting Draft Plan K 2.5, which will be officially presented to the public over a series of four public meetings between tonight and Saturday, October 16.


After a whirlwind of marathon-length Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission meetings over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a few days to rest, breathe, and contemplate the process before it starts up again in earnest tonight, with the first of four public presentations and comment sessions on the Commission’s recommended Draft Plan K2.5.  And during that down time, we’ve been looking not only forward to the next round of discussions to come…but also looking back a bit — thinking about what the redistricting process has been like so far this time around, and the many ways it has – and hasn’t – changed since the last time Los Angeles did this dance 10 years ago.

Process and Procedures


As those who have attended the 2021 City Council Redistricting meetings are aware, there have been two phases to the process so far.  First came a series of region-based community meetings, at which the public was invited to share thoughts on what is important to them and their “community of interest” as new city council district lines are drawn.  There were a total of 17 of these meetings – one focusing on each of the city’s 15 city council districts, and two with a larger citywide focus.

Next came series of meetings in which the Redistricting Commission itself, along with its mapping consultant, presented and reviewed a detailed series of maps based on the public input and feedback received at the previous public meetings, via e-mailed comments and via a new online public mapping tool known as Districtr.

Over that series of commission meetings, several Draft Plan maps, A-L, were presented, discussed, and whittled down to just one – Draft Plan K 2.5 – to pass along to the next phase of community input, which begins tonight (see the full schedule below).

But how does this process differ so far, we wondered, from what happened the last time this was done, after the 2010 census?

Well, for one thing, technology has advanced enough that much more information is available to the public online this time around – not just all of the the ever-evolving draft maps, but also the Districtr mapping tool that allows anyone who wants to to draw and submit their version of a potential district or citywide map.  And then, of course, we have Zoom – the ubiquitous live meeting tool that allows people to not only watch, but participate in meetings online instead of in person.  Not to mention a little global pandemic that not only allows, but currently requires, this kind of virtual meetings and engagement.

So that’s technology.  But what else has or hasn’t changed in 2021?

The last time the city went through this, the general phases were the same.  But the meetings were very different.  First, as those who attended back then may recall, there were lots of public meetings, but they were held in various locations around the vast footprint of Los Angeles, so they were harder to get to – especially if you wanted to attend multiple meetings – and they were much more crowded, with often hundreds of people attending, sometimes with standing-room-only capacity, and people had to queue up in longs lines to speak during public comment periods, which often took hours to work through.

Now, with everything being done online, there’s no driving to and from meetings, you can watch from the comfort of your own home or office, and while there may still be hundreds of people in a meeting, you always have a clear, closeup view of the commissioners and the maps being presented.  There’s no jockeying for good seats, or danger that you’ll be crowded out of the room or a seat, and no standing in long lines to speak – you just wait in a virtual queue until your name is called to unmute yourself.

Which really is a revolution since the time when, as the LA Times reported on February 15, 2012:

“Roughly 800 people showed up at a City Hall redistricting hearing last week, a turnout that filled the council chamber and an overflow room. More attendees milled about in the hallways.”


“[Jan] Perry and [Jose] Huizar backers testified for nearly five hours, while some speakers from Koreatown waited. That infuriated redistricting Commissioner Helen Kim, who complained that 80- and 90-year-old citizens were being forced to wait for hours. Kim, an appointee of City Controller Wendy Greuel, said she confronted Huizar’s chief of staff and told her to stop rifling through the speaker cards and changing the order.

“At first she said that she was merely culling out the public comment cards of people who had left,” Kim said. “Then she went on to say that her people — people from [Huizar’s district] — had gotten there early and she was entitled to make sure they didn’t testify last.”

And this kind of jockeying for physical position was done by many groups with many different kinds of interests.  For example, a now familiar but relatively new-at-the-time local news site (yes, we’ve been around that long already!) reported in January, 2012 that the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council was lobbying its stakeholders to attend one of the upcoming meetings, and urging people from “as many associations and neighborhoods as possible” to create “a physical presence and a record of attendance.”  Attendees were also warned that “it’s probably a good idea” to arrive at least half an hour prior to the meeting time, and that people should try to sit together:  “We’ll be everywhere in the Council Chamber, but we are trying to concentrate at “audience left,” down front.”  There were also lengthy transportation and parking directions, and those who attendeed were urged to collect and hold up an 11 x 17″ GWNC “hand poster” during the planned comments by GWNC president Owen Smith.


A packed house at the Ebell Theater for a February 1, 2012 redistricting hearing.  Note the maps on easels at the front of the room, and people standing in line in the aisle waiting to speak during public comments.


Smith remembers those big meetings, told the Buzz today that he prefers the online meetings this time around. “I think it’s better now,” Smith said, citing the fact that all the meetings in the previous redistricting cycle were in different places around the city, which took a lot of time to get to and from.  And there’s the added benefit, too, this time around, of being able to simply turn off the meeting and walk away if it gets too long for you.

We asked Smith whether he thinks overall public access and transparency are better this time, too, and he said again that he prefers this year’s pattern.  “On Zoom, you can sit in your living room, or office, and can tune in and see what’s going on.”  Of course we have heard at least a few people complain that the process still isn’t transparent enough…but Smith says that even with new technology, you do still have to make an effort to keep up with the process, and it helps if you’ve been attending meetings from the beginning.  “It’s like a movie,” he said. “It depends on when you came in”…and if you miss part of a meeting, or a series of meetings, he said, you can still feel left out.  And also, of course, no matter how many meetings you attend, “Whether you like the outcome or not is a different story.”

Another longtime neighborhood activist, former Miracle Mile Residential Association president Jim O’Sullivan, has a similar view.  “I like the Zoom stuff,” O’Sullivan told the Buzz, though he says one thing he does miss about the big in-person redistricting meetings us the chance to chat and interact, in person, with the other meeting attendees, which is harder to do on Zoom.  That said, though, he also said he thinks the new Zoom format works particularly well for huge meetings drawing large crowds and covering wide geographic areas – like city council redistricting, and also like several statewide meetings he attended recently on Senate Bills 9 and 10.  “To me, this works,” he said.  And overall, he said he, too, thinks the new process is probably more transparent to the public than the old one, because all the maps and meeting materials are so easily available, and clearly viewable, to anyone online.

Which, again, is definitely different from last time, when one of our own Buzz stories noted that the Redistricting Commission’s first draft redistricting map was released and published by the LA Times just hours before the Commission’s meeting that same day, and it gave no information on how to access the map.  Very different from this year, when new maps have been usually been published very publicly and accessibly, by the commission itself, well in advance of meetings.  And all the maps are always available online…with many mapping changes discussed during the meetings even drawn and tested live, on screen, during the meetings themselves.




So, yes, there have been a lot of technical and procedural innovations this year, and most people we’ve heard from seem to think that’s an overall win for public access and transparency.  But what about the issues currently at play in the process – have they changed much in the last 10 years?

Not really.

For example, the requested unification of Koreatown in a single city council district was a major topic of conversation in 2012…and remains so in 2021. “Koreatown was always a big issue,” O’Sullivan said…and this is confirmed in several LA Times redistricting stories from 2012 (see here and here for examples).  But while the Koreatown unification effort wasn’t successful last time around (the area wound up divided among either three or four different districts, depending on which boundaries you use), the issue seems to have gained even more steam this year, thanks largely to the prolonged and very vocal efforts of a group called the Koreatown Redistricting Taskforce.  In fact, the unification request has been made so strongly this time around that the 2021 Redistricting Commission has made it a core goal for this year’s redistricting efforts.

Also, last time around, there was a huge debate about “economic engines” in three south LA, historically Black city council districts (8, 9, and 10).  A debate about whether downtown should remain in CD 9 in 2012 ended with it being removed.  The district was compensated by the addition of USC and Exposition Park, but District 8, which lost those assets, has been protesting ever since, and has been lobbying for their return during the current redistricting cycle.  And District 10, which used to contain all of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall area, found that asset split in half last time around, with half in District 10 and half in District 8…and District 10 wants it back this time.  So the discussion is far from over.

But even these regional arguments seem to be playing out with greater visibility this time around.  Laura Meyers, president of the United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council, which is currently fully with CD 10 boundaries and lobbying hard to stay that way this year, said she’s been following the CD 8, 9, and 10 issues closely, but there are details about the 2012 arguments that she doesn’t remember well.  But that, she said, may be a “clue”:  “The fact that I don’t know may well mean it was much less transparent…the fact that we can see in such minute detail [this time around] how each proposed changed affects population totals [in each area] is the new transparency.”

And, of course, for our own Greater Wilshire area, everything old is new again as well.  In 2012, the GWNC lobbied to be united in a single city council district after having been split among three districts in the redistricting cycle before that.  In the end, things did improve, with the area going from three to just two districts…but this year, once again, the GWNC is formally requesting that it be united in just one district, a goal that is – at the moment – realized in Draft Plan K 2.5.


Where We are Now…and What We Don’t Want to Repeat


Of course, we’re only part way through the process at the moment, with a long way to go, and – as they did after this point in 2012 – proposed boundaries will likely change a great deal before the Redistricting Commission completes its work and sends a final proposed map to the City Council (which will then go through its own discussion and change process).

And there are still a lot of very familiar arguments to be worked out.  In fact, the unresolved issues are so well defined that the Commission has published a list of them with the Draft Plan K2.5 maps, and is asking the public to comment at the next meetings specifically on these issues, and how they’re currently addressed in Draft Plan K 2.5.  The issues include, region by region:


• Watts remains unified and in CD 15
• Crenshaw Mall is now unified within CD 8
• Koreatown is now unified within CD 10
• Leimert Park and Crenshaw Manor are unified within CD 10
• The current map does not change economic assets within CD 9


• The alignment of Lincoln Heights with El Sereno and Boyle heights
• Current placement of Silverlake, Angelino Heights, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Griffith Park and Glassell Park


• The current placement of Winnetka, Canoga Park, Reseda, Lake Balboa and part of Van Nuys within a new valley district
• The redrawing of Current Districts 2 and 4


• The Neighborhood Council/community splits within the maps
• The perceived impact of the proposed Map on the following communities; Thai Town, Historic Filipinotown, renters, and the Jewish and Armenian communities.

The biggest of these discussions may be what happens to the two districts currently referred to “District 2 or 4” and “District 4 or 2” on the Draft Plan K 2.5 map – the districts most likely analogous to the current Districts 4 and 2 – one of which lies in the central city, and one of which lies in the center of the San Fernando Valley…both of which are radically changed in this proposal from their current configurations.  There are many reasons for the shifts, but they are probably at least partially due to their more central locations in their relative halves of the city, which leave them vulnerable to other necessary shifts made in districts all around their perimeters.  (And this, too, by the way, is nothing new – as noted in this LA Times story from 2012, in which then-Redistricting Commissioner Michael Trujillo said about the Koreatown split at the time: “Unfortunately, the way the process goes is, if you’re in the middle of the city…that’s going to be carved up.”)



Section of Draft Plan K 2.5 map that shows Districts 4-or-2 and 2-or-4, which will receive a lot of attention in the next few public input meetings.


In the end, of course, while some people are at least mostly happy with Draft Plan K 2.5’s proposals, others are not, and probably everyone is hoping for better results than in 2012, which was, overall, notoriously messy.

For example, that same 2012 Times story that addressed the Koreatown/central LA split called the Commission process “ugly, dysfunctional and sad” at the point at which it handed off its final map to the City Council.  “Even some who serve on the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission and backed the changes sounded ashamed of the final product,” the story said.  In addition:

“Commissioner Rob Kadota, who…backed the map, said the commission failed to demonstrate equal concern for all parts of the city.

And Commissioner David Roberti, a former state senator well versed in power politics, said he felt badly about rejecting demands of hundreds of Korean Americans who called for the area covered by Koreatown’s neighborhood council to be unified in a single council district.”

““I am terribly guilt-ridden over the concerns of the Korean community,” said Roberti, who cast a series of votes opposed by Koreatown advocates. “They did not win here, and 10 years ago [in the last redistricting] they didn’t win either. And I was on that commission as well.””

And 2012 Commissioner David Roberts, who, according to the story, fought to keep downtown in CD 9, said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a process this dysfunctional”

Which is not really what you want to hear at the end of such a project.

So there’s a lot at stake this year, and a long way to go…and even though the Redistricting Commission is still working through its portion of the process, and nothing has been presented to the City Council yet, several current Councilmembers have already come out swinging.

For example, CD 4 representative Nithya Raman, who’s in danger of losing many, if not most, of her current constituents under Draft Plan K 2.5, posted on Twitter yesterday:


“Last week the LA City Redistricting Commission moved forward with a proposed map that effectively *erases* our district in its current form. This happened despite the fact that the minimal changes in population in LA show no basis whatsoever for such drastic shifts…What is saddest to me is that these maps decimate the voices of new voters in a historic election – one that saw more renters, more young people, and more people of color participate than ever before. I spent almost two years telling people in LA that their voices mattered. That engaging in city government could make real change. Now, thanks to the actions of a few unelected commissioners, the voices of hundreds of thousands of Angelenos are being erased.”


And current CD 2 representative Paul Krekorian wrote in his “Our Valley News” newsletter:


“The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission was supposed to adjust the boundaries of the Council districts to reflect changes in population as reported in the 2020 U.S. Census, while giving due consideration to other factors, such as geographical boundaries and communities of interest.

Sadly, the integrity of the process has been compromised by backroom deal-making and has produced a plan that disenfranchises thousands of voters by depriving them of the representation they voted for.

The Commission’s current plan (K2.5) calls for removing either Councilmember Krekorian or Councilmember Nithya Raman from districts that elected them less than a year ago. One of them would be required to serve a district in the West Valley, far from the constituents who elected them.

At their last meeting, the Commission would not even agree to hear public comment on a proposed alternative. But there’s still time for the Commission to reconsider. If you object to this abuse of the redistricting process, let the Commission hear from you by phone or Zoom in the remaining public meetings (see schedule and contact information below) and write to the Commissioners — all of them (see addresses below) — and let them know how you feel about having your votes invalidated and your choice overruled.

Because both Councilmembers were elected so recently, their terms will not expire until 2024, but the West Valley communities they may be asked to serve haven’t voted for City Council since 2017. If Krekorian or Raman is transferred there, these neighborhoods will go seven years without a chance to vote for their own representative. This is outrageous.

If this plan is not amended to ensure that the people of Los Angeles have a fair opportunity to elect Councilmembers of their own choosing, the public will demand to know whose political interests some of these commissioners are actually serving.”


Meanwhile, Redistricting Commission Chair Fred Ali seems to be trying to avoid the politics so far, as well as the 2012-style acrimony.  As the LA Times wrote last week:


“Ali defended the commission’s work so far, saying that unlike previous decades, line-drawing decisions are being made not behind closed doors but in public — viewable on Zoom during each of the panel’s lengthy evening meetings.

The commission, he said, is basing its decisions not on where a politician lives but on U.S. Census data, public input and on proposals aimed at keeping “communities of interest” together in the same council district.

“This commission has taken very, very seriously the testimony it receives, in combination with the data,” he said.”


What’s Next


So the conversation revs up again tonight, with first of four public presentation and comment sessions specifically focusing on the Commission’s recommended Draft Plan K 2.5, and the unresolved issues list that goes with it.

Once again, as with all redistricting meetings this year, tonight’s meeting – and the rest of the Draft Plan K 2.5 meetings – will be held via Zoom on the following dates/times:

Wednesday, October 6th at 6 p.m.
Wednesday, October 13th at 6 p.m.  

Saturday, October 9th at 10:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 16th at 10 a.m.

You can also submit comments via e-mail to the commission at

And if the meetings get too long for you, unlike in years past, you can simply unplug, shuffle off to bed, and catch up with it all later on the archived video.  It really is that easy now.


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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. Why is there NO conversation about the idiotic idea of splitting Melrose into TWO districts? One to the north of Melrose and another to the south! Insanity! Is it simply the fact that Melrose Village and MidCity West Neighborhood Council has been relatively silent in this process? That’s going to change tonight for sure!

    As a long time resident of CD5, living on Waring Ave (1 block north of Melrose), I have always depended on Council District 5 as my representative that I could rely on to help with city issues. This is now in jeopardy for my area.

    The neighborhood is also bordered to the west and the north by the City of West Hollywood, which further complicates many land use and public safety issues in my neighborhood. Dividing the areas north and south of Melrose Ave. would further divide the representation here on this narrow sliver of both council districts.

    I believe that dividing both Melrose Ave.(north and south) and the Mid City West Neighborhood Council are both principles that the commission has vigorously opposed in other parts of the city while turning a blind eye to it occurring here, in the heart of the City.

    Melrose Ave. is currently suffering from a major uptick in serious crime including homicides and shootings that are alarming to both the business community and the residents of the area and will have lasting negative consequences.

    Now is not the time to further divide the responsibility for this stretch of Melrose west of La Brea merely to increase population numbers for a particular council district and displace the current communities of interest.

  2. Thank you for your reporting. The Valley gets screwed, once again, and there is no excuse for it. Cutting and carving of the center should be avoided and not facilities by apologists on the periphery., who do not think all of the City deserves equal consideration. The Commission contended that one key goal of the redistricting was to better represent the Valley, and yet they immediately brought out the carving knife and disenfranchised 3 full districts — almost 800000 people. This is being orchestrated by political forces and it would be good for you to dig in there. Plan L was a better plan, and the commission lied when they said it would be publicly discussed and considered. Ali shut it down. Sure, it needed changes like all of the other plans, but it was not allowed the constructive scrutiny that all other plans were given.


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