On Tuesday, September 21, the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission continued its discussion of draft maps for new city council districts…and added a new set of maps – Plans E-H – to Plans A-D, which were presented and discussed at the first part of the mapping meeting on Monday.
According to Paul Mitchell, presenting the draft maps for the city’s consulting group, Redistricting Partners, the new maps were created largely from public and commission comments on the first set of maps, and combine elements of several of the previous maps. Also, Mitchell explained that in Plans E-H, E is the master map, with only districts in the very southern part of the city varying in Plans D-H.
In the Plan E map, as shown above, the Greater Wilshire area would fall mostly within District M, which would also include Park La Brea to the west, and neighborhoods such as Hollywood, East Hollywood, Silverlake, and Atwater Villate to the east and northeast. This area likely correlates most closely with current District 13.
As before, however, several neighborhoods in the eastern part of the Greater Wilshire area, from Wilshire to Beverly, and Wilton to Western, would be included with a newly united Koreatown in District H in this map (roughly correlating to the current CD 10)…so the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood area would still be divided between two city council districts, instead of united in a single district, as neighbors have requested.
After the map presentation, commissioners discussed the new maps by region, pointing out issues that are yet to be resolved (some of which had also been mentioned by stakeholders in a public comment period befor the new map presentation). Citywide, some of those issues included:
- Which neighborhoods and open spaces (including Echo Park, Elysian Park, Griffith Park, Silverlake and more) should be included in District D (4) vs. District M (13) on the new Plan E.
- How economic “engines” such as the USC/Exposition Park area, and the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Mall area, should be divided between CDs 8 and 9.
- Whether or not Watts should remain in CD 15, as it is now.
- Whether or not there should be at least one district traversing the Hollywood Hills and connecting the Valley to the rest of the city in some way.
- Whether an area known as “PoSO” (Part of Sherman Oaks) should be fully united with Sherman Oaks proper.
- How neighborhoods such as Thai Town, Historic Filipinotown, and East Hollywood could be united, both within their own borders and with their adjacent neighborhoods.
Also, rather late in the discussion, the issue of incumbent Councilmember residency came up, with commission Chair Fred Ali noting that some proposals being discussed do have the potential of separating current councilmembers’ neighborhoods of residence from the districts they currently represent. (This could definitely be an issue with current CD 4 representative Nithya Raman, who lives in Silverlake, and CD 13 representative Mitch O’Farrell, who lives in Glassell Park, if the boundaries for their current districts shift too much.)
Greater Wilshire Local Issues
One big issue at this meeting, which has been an issue throughout the redistricting conversations so far, was how to unite the general Koreatown area, and what borders to use for that community of interest.
So far most of the draft maps have placed a newly united Koreatown at the northeastern corner of what would likely be the new CD10, which would stretch south and west to include Harvard Heights, Arlington Heights, Mid-City, West Adams, Jefferson Park and parts of the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw area. This is repeated in Plan E, as shown below.
But this newest map, like others that have come before it, would also use borders suggested by a community coalition called the Koreatown Redistricting Taskforce, which has asked that the western border of a united Koreatown area should be Wilton Place, instead of the city-defined western border of Koreatown, which is Western Ave. The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council represents neighborhoods to the west of Western, between Wilshire and Melrose, and – if the KRT’s requested boundaries are used – could wind up with several of its neighborhoods split off into a new council district along its eastern edge.
This border issue has sparked much discussion in both comments from the public and from the commissioners themselves since the beginning of the current redistricting discussions. Many GWNC-area residents, along with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council itself, have requested that the full GWNC area be kept intact within a single council district, and commissioners have wrestled with the question of which boundary should be used to define the boundary between the GWNC and Koreatown communities of interest (in other words, whether to keep the GWNC area whole in one district, or to keep the self-defined Koreatown community whole in a single district).
It appeared this debate would continue at Tuesday’s meeting, but this time, when the topic came up during the commissioners’ discussion, commissioner Alexandra Suh said she would like to see a new draft map that tries something different — including both the GWNC area and the full Koreatown area in a reconfigured CD 4, with Hollywood, Historic Filipinotown, and Silverlake. She said that would make the GWNC/Koreatown border discussion moot, and would solve issues for several other neighborhoods, too. Other commissioners expressed interest in discussing Suh’s proposal, but said it would be impossible to do so accurately without a new map illustrating the idea and how it would affect neighboring districts. Mitchell said he could prepare such a map, but it would take a few days…so the commissioners eventually agreed to postpone the discussion until a new draft map can be prepared.
While the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has taken an official position advocating for all of the area it covers to be united in a single city council district, and also for all of Koreatown be united in a single district (using the city’s official western boundary instead of the one proposed by the KRT), it has not yet taken a position on which district it should be placed in, leaving that decision to the redistricting commission.
But on Tuesday afternoon, the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, in an email to the redistricting commission, did tackle this question, and recommended that the GWNC area be placed with other neighborhoods to its west in CD 5, as that area was outlined in the earlier mapping plan B2. The letter read:
Please consider the following and adjust Draft Map B2 to keep our communities of interest and Greater Wilshire NC together and whole.
Under California law, the Orthodox Jewish communities in Westwood, Beverlywood, Pico- Robertson, Beverly-Fairfax, Hancock Park and our GWNC neighborhoods constitute a “community of interest” because they are “a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.” The community qualifies as a “community of interest” under every legal standard: “needs and interests,” geography, social interaction, trade, political ties, living patterns, religious characteristics, cultural and ethnic ties, and common interests. Under California law, consideration of communities of interest is required legally during redistricting in order to provide a meaningful and fair chance to elect officials who best represent the community’s concerns, interests, and priorities. The Hancock Park Homeowners Association and member of the GWNC we support this community of interest and all of our residents’ right to be united and fairly represented.
As you rework draft maps for tonight’s meeting we strongly advocate in favor of being untied in MAP B2.
In a conversation with the Buzz today, HPHOA president Cindy Chvatal-Keane said that the HPHOA board voted unanimously to request being placed with neighborhoods to the west in what is now CD 5, for the reasons outlined above. She said that throughout the process, GWNC-area neighbors have been saying “keep us whole, keep us whole, keep us whole.”
“But keep us whole where?,” Chvatal asked.
So she said the HPHOA board decided to make a case for Greater Wilshire’s placement in CD5, based on various “communities of interest” such as religious affiliations (Jewish communities), single family zoning, and more, which she said are more aligned with areas to the west than with the much denser neighborhoods to the east.
As for the eastern border question, Chvatal acknowledged that the redistricting commission seems inclined to continue using the KRT’s suggested borders for Koreatown, but that even if most of Greater Wilshire is moved into CD5, and its eastern edge winds up in CD 10, it wouldn’t be a new situation for the GWNC, which is currently split between CDs 4 and 5, and was previously split, before the last round of redistricting, between CDs 4 and 10.
GWNC Neighborhoods South of Wilshire
Another issue at play in re-drawing city council boundaries for the Greater Wilshire area is what happens to neighborhoods along the GWNC’s southern border, which lies along Olympic Blvd.
In the first set of draft redistricting maps, three of the four maps (A1, B2, and D1) placed a council district dividing line at Wilshire Blvd., instead of Olympic Blvd., which would have placed the Sycamore Square, Brookside, Fremont Place, Windsor Village, Wilshire Park, and Country Club Heights neighborhoods in a district (likely CD 10) separate from the bulk of the GWNC area. Also, with the proposed Koreatown border slicing into the GWNC area on the east, the Wilshire Park neighborhood, which also contains an HPOZ and a National Register Historic District, would be particularly affected, with a council district border cutting that community in half.
The new Plan E map – as shown in the detail below – does shift the southern border of its proposed District M back to Olympic Blvd., so it would reuite Sycamore Square, Brookside, Fremont Place, and Windsor Village with the rest of the Greater Wilshire area. But Country Club Heights, and particularly Wilshire Park, would still be separated – with County Club Heights fully in another district (likely District 10), and Wilshire Park still divided between two city council districts.
The redistricting commission had originally scheduled another meeting to discuss the proposed district maps for tonight (Thursday, September 23), but after Suh’s proposal to unite both the Greater Wilshire and Koreatown areas in a single council district, the group voted to move the next meeting to Monday, September 27, at 4 p.m., via Zoom, to give Mitchell time to create a map based on the proposal, and to give commission members time to study and think about the map before their next discussion. A final meeting to narrow the draft maps down to a single recommendation to the city council will be held on Thursday, September 30 at 5 p.m. (at the same Zoom link).
In the meantime, written comments on the redistricting process can still be submitted to the commission at [email protected], and suggested maps can be still be created and submitted via the commission’s Districtr mapping tool. The commission has extended the period for public comments and map suggestions to Friday, October 1 at 12 p.m.
Finally, for those who really want to get into the details of the discussion so far, video of Tuesday’s 5 1/4 hour commission meeting is available here.
Someone needs to give Liz Fuller a raise. She’s managed, once again, to take an incredibly complicated set of facts and describe them in a simple way that gets to the heart of each of the often conflicting issues. Just the facts, but presented as totally accessible. Well done.