Last night, the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Redistricting Commission concluded its year-long process of redrawing district boundaries for the County’s five Supervisorial Districts. And despite a note from the commission’s staff regarding one possible map change, and several other requests from members of the public, no further changes were made, and the final map – shown above – remained as it had been at the conclusion of the previous meeting on Sunday, December 12.
While the map clearly didn’t please everyone, the Commissioners, in reviewing it one last time last night, said they were very proud of how it does meet several of the commission’s stated goals: creating at least one majority Latinx district, uniting the San Fernando Valley (in SD 3), uniting most of the Pomona/Fairplex area (in SD 1), uniting the Ballona wetlands and “beach” communities (Manhattan, Redondo and Hermosa)(in SD 4), uniting most of the city’s historically Black communities (in SD 2), and even grouping several areas of media-industry concentration in Burbank, Glendale, and Hollywood (in SD 5).
More locally, as previously reported, our general Greater Wilshire area did wind up split between two Supervisorial Districts, with the southern 3/4 or so (as shown below) in SD 2 (currently represented by Supervisor Holly Mitchell), and the northern quarter in SD 3 (currently represented by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who will be termed out in 2022). But the division is a relatively clean one, running mostly along Beverly Blvd., with just a bit, in the northwest corner, along nearby Rosewood Ave.
At last night’s meeting, there were a few potential last-minute changes discussed. First, commission staff noted that one small part of Thai Town had been inadvertently left out of SD1 when the commission united most of the rest of that area on Sunday. But after some debate about whether or not the area in question is officially considered part of Thai Town, a motion to move it from SD 5 to SD 1 failed.
Several other changes made during last Sunday’s meeting – including moving parts of the northwest San Fernando Valley from SD 5 to SD 3, splitting Studio City between two supervisorial districts, and splitting the La Verne area between two districts – were protested by speakers during a relatively brief public comment period last night. But while the commissioners were sympathetic to the complaints and acknowledged that their map isn’t perfect, most also agreed they had done as much as they could with a very tight deadline looming… and in the end they voted by a margin of 13 in favor and one abstention to approve Sunday’s map (barring any strictly technical corrections that might still be needed) as the truly final version of the new districts.
Finally last night, the Commission also approved the final draft of the staff-prepared report on its work over the last year. The report, presented in detail by Executive Director Gayla Hartsough, contains the new map and the data behind it, an overview of the commission’s work over the past year, and a section of 15 “Lessons Learned” and recommendations for future redistricting efforts. Some of these recommendations are similar to those included in the recent final report on City Council Redistricting, and include (among others):
- Implement a robust outreach and engagement plan, and strongly consider hiring an outreach and engagement coordinator/manager.
- Draw the names of the initial eight Commissioners earlier (in the year in which the decennial Federal Census is taken), especially if the Commissioners are to select their own Executive Director and/or Independent Legal Counsel.
- Better inform Commissioner applicants about the time commitment and consider some form of compensation given the demands on their time.
- Work with the redistricting mapping software vendor to develop software enhancements that meet the Commissioners’ and public’s needs well in advance of the redistricting process.
- Adopt new technological advancements for conducting hybrid public meetings.
- Approach the California Legislature to establish an integrated approach with shared software and databases across the State.
And, finally, as was also recommended by the LA City Council Redistricting Commission for that body:
“The County of Los Angeles should explore a ballot measure and legislative changes to increase the number of Board of Supervisors.” (Since the current Board consists of only five Supervisors, each of whom represents approximately 2 million people.)
As their official duties drew to a close last night, the commissioners – some of whom have yet to meet each other in person – thanked each other, their staff, and the public for a very productive process. Most of the commissioners also said that while no map is perfect, they are proud of what this one has accomplished, and feel it’s a big improvement, in a number of ways, over the old map it replaces.