If you thought the city council redistricting process was interesting at the Redistricting Commission level, with thousands of public comments, hundreds of map submissions, several mid-process commissioner replacements, at least a few drastic district boundary changes, and more…hold onto your hats because everything changes this week as the process moves from the commission to the City Council, where several Councilmembers have already indicated they will work to make significant changes in the map recommended by the City Council Redistricting Commission just a few days ago.
The map details causing the most upset – for both some current councilmembers and their stakeholders – seem to be significant changes recommended by the Redistricting Commission to.districts in the San Fernando Valley, and to the current CD4, where sitting Councilmember Nithya Raman could lose contact with the majority of the constituents who voted her into office just a year ago.
The changes have rankled Raman, City Council President Nury Martinez (who represents the Valley’s CD 6), and Valley Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who – like Raman – could lose most of all of his current CD 2 constituents if the Redistricting Commission’s recommended Plan K 2.5 is implemented. The trio is so unhappy they introduced a motion last week to create an ad hoc redistricting committee for the Council, even before the Commission’s map and report were finalized, and began speaking out against the currently recommended map.
“It’s clear that too many voices across the city have yet to be heard and we have an immovable deadline,” Martinez said in a statement about the motion. “We cannot reasonably move forward with a map that raises concerns for so many marginalized communities when this will be so influential in the lives of all Angelenos for the next decade. If we’re looking to build a stronger, more equitable Los Angeles, we need a map that reflects that.”
Meanwhile, Krekorian was quoted in an LA Daily News story saying the Redistricting Commission’s recommended map is an “embarrassingly bad proposal for new council districts that ignores the input of the public and disenfranchises half a million people.” And Raman has pinned a long thread about her dissatisfaction with the recommended map to the top of her Twitter feed.
But while those three Councilmembers are upset with the recommended map, as are many residents of the Valley communities that may also be moved into new council districts, a large number of communities and constituencies on the other side of the Hollywood Hills, including in our own Greater Wilshire area, have praised the current map recommendations. These include moves to unite Koreatown in a single council district, moving the Greater Wilshire area mostly into CD 5 with other single-family neighborhoods, uniting many of the city’s Jewish communities in CD 5, keeping Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown together in a single district, and more.
And with all the dissent rising from the Valley and some parts of Raman’s current CD 4, many stakeholders who are happy with the recommended map now fear that changes they lobbied hard for, which were honored by the Redistricting Commission in its recommendations, may be quickly undone by the City Council…so these communities, too, are now marshaling forces for a show of strength in the next round of hearings.
For example, both the Hancock Park Homeowners Association and the Miracle Mile Residential Association have sent out emails to their members, decrying what they call the Council’s attempts at “backroom dealing” and “gerrymandering,” and urging their members to contact Councilmembers to urge them to honor the Redistricting Commission’s presumably more transparent mapping process, and to retain the currently recommended Draft Plan K 2.5, which unites most of those two areas in CD 5, as many residents requested over the last few months.
(The HPHOA also placed an ad in the Buzz to reach a wider local audience with the same plea.)
But in addition to specific mapping issues, there are also some groups starting to play a longer term game, with protests about the redistricting process itself. With this year’s Redistricting Commission appointed mostly by elected officials, including the very representatives whose district lines are being drawn, and with most of those commissioners in daily contact with the officials who appointed them, those organizations have already begun lobbying for changes in the next round of redistricting, after the 2030 census.
These include both the LA Times, which published an editorial last week calling for a truly independent citizens’ redistricting commission…and California Common Cause – which made a presentation at the Redistricting Commission’s final meeting last week calling for several reforms, including redistricting commissioners NOT appointed by elected officials, a ban on ex parte communications between commissioners and city officials during the redistricting process, and a prohibition on replacing redistricting commissioners for any reason but outright malfeasance during the redistricting process. And several of these recommendations were also enshrined by the Redistricting Commission itself in its final report.
And there also seems to be a growing wave of support – again including from the Redistricting Commission itself – for a ballot measure to increase the number of city council districts in the city, which lags far behind the count in other major metropolises (Chicago has 50 city council districts, and New York has 51). The lower number of representatives means that constituents in Los Angeles are underrepresented in their local governments compared to those in other cities…and that each council person wields a lot more power than those in other cities.
So the stage is set for a few weeks of drama at least equal to what we’ve seen so far, if not even more intense…and it all begins tomorrow, Tuesday, November 2, when the City Council hears the official report from the Redistricting Commission, and also votes on the Martinez/Krekorian/Raman motion to create an ad hoc redistricting committee. (Note that while the meeting starts at 10:00 a.m., and these items are #44 and #46 on the agenda, it’s common for items to be taken out of order at City Council meetings, so it’s hard to tell in advance when the specific discussion will take place.). The meeting will be broadcast live on cable channel 35, online at https://clerk.lacity.org/calendar, and via phone at (213) 621-CITY (Metro), (818) 904-9450 (Valley), (310) 471-CITY (Westside) and (310) 547-CITY (San Pedro area).
And, again, this is only the first step in the Council’s larger process, which will play out this month and next. At tomorrow’s meeting, according to a City Legislative Analyst memorandum on the process, the Councilmembers will have a chance to provide input on the Redistricting Commission’s recommendations, and also one shot at making their own motions to amend the Redistricting Commission’s map. After those motions, according to the memorandum, the City Council next votes on its own recommended redistricting map, and then has to hold two public hearings on it, at least one week apart. Its final map must be adopted by December 31. So a lot will be happening over the next eight weeks…and it could happen at head-spinning speed, starting tomorrow.
If you would like to weigh in on the redistricting recommendations, or on the specific motion for the City Council to create its own ad hoc Redistricting Committee, you can see the Council File page for each of the issues. To submit feedback on either one, simply click on the “Submit a Public Comment” item (flagged with a red “New” icon) at the top of the following Council File pages:
You can also write directly to any or all of the current City Council members, who will be discussing and voting on these issues tomorrow:
Finally, for those who would like to do some deeper digging, you can also peruse the full (500+ page) Redistricting Commission report here.