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Saturday Redistricting Discussion Focuses on Valley Issues Macro & Micro…Continues Tonight

Draft Plan K 2.5 Amendment 2 – including the latest revisions from Saturday’s Redistricting Commission meeting.


As the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission heads into the home stretch of its assigned work – approving and forwarding to the City Council a recommended draft map of new city council districts by the end of this week – the latest of its meetings, on Saturday, October 16, ran 7 1/2 hours.  And for the first time the discussions focused  mostly on the San Fernando Valley, including both small local border issues and much larger overall issues regarding how council districts in the Valley should be drawn.


Introductory Presentation


As with the last several meetings in the current public input phase, Saturday’s meeting opened with a presentation by a specific community organization, this time the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region. ANCA-WR representative Edward Barsoumian explained that the Armenian community in Los Angeles has been working since 2011 to unify its stakeholders in as few districts as possible, but while it was largely located in CDs 4 and 13 after the 2000 census, the 2012 redistricting process split the community among five different Council districts, diluting its voice and voting power. And this has become increasingly concerning, Barsoumian said, as safety issues such as anti-Armenian hate crimes have increased in recent years.

Barsoumian said the current proposed Draft Plan K 2.5 continues to fracture the Armenian communities, dividing the Valley Glen area into three separate districts, and creating new divisions of Armenian population areas in Van Nuys and North Hollywood.   Barsoumian acknowledged that the redistricting Commission has used “heat maps” of Armenian population density to guide its current mapping process, but he pointed out that while heat maps show density, they do not show total population, which can be misleading.  For example, he some of the darkest red areas, indicating the highest percentages of Armenian residents, also have the lowest overall populations…so they’re not necessarily as important for guiding district boundaries as some of the more populous areas which have more Armenian residents but lower overall percentages of Armenian residents (those areas show up as lighter colors on the map).  In other words, Barsoumian said, if a fairly rural area has only two residents, and both of them are Armenian, that area will read as dark red…where an area of 50,000 Armenian residents in an area with a total population of 100,000 would read much lighter pink, even though it would be much more important to look at when drawing lines to keep the greatest number of people together.



Barsoumain said using only heat maps, without also looking at total population numbers, can create even further divisions of a community, as shown in the maps below.



To remedy the situation, Barsoumian requested that the Commission reunite Reseda and Encino in a single council district, unite Shadow Hills and the Sunland-Tujunga area, and return North Hollywood, Valley Glen, Valley Village and part of Van Nuys to the area currently covered by CD 2.


Public Comment


During the 90-minute general public comment period that followed Barsoumian’s presentation, seven Neighborhood Councils and more than 70 individuals addressed other areas of concern, including several issues of particular interest to our local communities.  These included:

  • Keeping the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area whole and in CD 5, as currently proposed in Draft Plan K 2.5
  • Keeping the Sycamore Square neighborhood whole and united with its Greater Wilshire and Miracle Mile neighbors in CD 5, as currently proposed.
  • Keeping the Koreatown area united in CD 10, as currently proposed.
  • Making sure the CD 5 eastern boundary is drawn at the alley between Manhattan Pl. and Western Ave., to match the GWNC boundary, and not down the middle of Manhattan Pl., as currently proposed. (That boundary would separate neighbors along Manhattan Place into two different council districts, as well as put St. Brendan’s Church and its affiliated St. Brendan’s School into two separate CDs.)
  • Reuniting the Melrose neighborhood with the rest of the Mid City West Neighborhood Council area in CD 5, instead of splitting it off into CD 13, as currently proposed.
  • Uniting all of the Miracle Mile residential area united in CD 5.
  • Keeping all of Fairfax Avenue’s three-block Little Ethiopia district united in CD 10, as it has been for many years, instead of splitting it down the middle as currently proposed.

Other issues raised by stakeholders from around the city included:

  • Thanks for keeping the Westside Neighborhood Council area together in Draft Plan K 2.5
  • Opposition to the general configuration of San Fernando Valley districts in the current draft plan
  • Keeping all of Los Feliz together, along with The Oaks and Griffith Park, in CD 13
  • Opposition to splitting the Sun Valley area among three council districts
  • Opposition to the current configuration of CD 3, in the Valley, which would be 70% white as currently outlined
  • Opposition to moving the Sepulveda Basin out of a district with communities to its north, and into a district with Encino, a change made to Draft Plan K 2.5 during the previous meeting last Thursday.
  • Thanks for moving the Sepulveda Basin area into CD 3 with Encino.
  • Keeping all of Van Nuys united in a single council district.
  • Thanks for reuniting, at the last meeting, the area containing the Chinatown gate and a large senior citizen housing complex with the rest of Chinatown.
  • Requests to reunite even more of Chinatown in CD 1.
  • Calls for additional commission meetings to address topics – especially the the Valley in general, and currently-imaged Districts “2-or-4” and “4-or-2” in particular.
  • Restoring economic assets (such as USC and the Exposition Park area) which were removed from CD 8 in the last redistricting process to that district…or keeping them where they are now in CD 9.
  • Keeping all of Downtown together in CD 14
  • Uniting Armenian communities, including Valley Glen, in CD 2
  • Opposition to breaking up renter communities, and the bloc of largely renter voters that elected Nithya Raman, in the current CD 4.
  • Keeping all of Highland Park united and with Eagle Rock, El Sereno, and Boyle Heights in CD 14
  • Keeping Little Tokyo, the Arts District, and the Pueblo area united with Downtown in CD 14
  • Separating Thai Town from Los Feliz, and uniting it with Historic Filipinotown, Little Armenia, and Koreatown in a single, more pan-Asian district.
  • Keeping Whitley Heights in a district with other hillside communities in the Hollywood Hills
  • Uniting Shadow Hills with other equestrian communities in CD 7
  • Keeping Shadow Hills in proposed district “2-or-4” with other largely Armenian communities
  • Keeping Canoga Park in a district with other communities of interest
  • Keeping Glassell Park united in a single council district
  • Uniting Echo Park in CD 1
  • Uniting Echo Park and Silverlake in CD 13
  • Leaving Studio City in the proposed CD 3…or move it into the proposed district “2-or-4” with Nithya Raman as its representative.
  • Using publicly submitted Map #57666 to restructure council districts in the Valley

Most of these issues have been mentioned in most of the previous redistricting meetings, but have not yet been fully addressed by commissioners as they continue to adjust map boundaries from meeting to meeting.


Commission Deliberation – Renter Maps


Before launching into specific mapping discussions, Commission Chair Fred Ali asked mapping consultant Paul Mitchell to present “equity index” information, and information about rent-burdened populations (households that spend more than 30% of their monthly incomes on rent) across the city…which was information the commissioners had requested in previous meetings to help evaluate some recent public comment claims that the current Draft Plan K 2.5 disenfranchises renters, especially those in the current CD 4, who were largely responsible for electing Councilmember Nithya Raman in 2020.

In response to these requests, Mitchell provided both equity index and  rent burden maps, showing where concentrations of disadvantaged and rent-burdened populations are located.  But he was careful to note that while the maps were drawn using data from the City Controller’s office, and he’s pretty sure the Controller’s Office got the data from federal information sources, he has not yet verified that federal source…a fact that several commissioners took issue with, saying the maps have no value without source information confirmation, and without more specific legends to explain the data displayed, which also weren’t included.


Detail of the Rent Burden map provided by the Redistricting Commission’s mapping consultant Paul Mitchell on Saturday. Black lines on the map indicate the city council district boundaries currently proposed in Draft Plan K 2.5.

Commission Deliberation – Valley Issues Macro


San Fernando Valley City Council Districts, as drawn in Draft Plan K 2.5.


As noted above, the lion’s share of this meeting was devoted to map concerns involving the San Fernando Valley, and whether there should be an overall reimagining of districts in this part of the city, or whether the commission should continue with its current process of looking at smaller individual boundary issues in specific locations in the Valley.

The two commission members lobbying hardest for an overall reimagining of Valley districts were Denis Cagna and Jackie Goldberg, appointed, respectively, by the current CD 2 and CD 4 city councilmembers…who would both see their districts most thoroughly changed in Draft Plan K 2.5.  Commissioner Rachel Torres, representing CD 6, also joined the chorus for large-scale map revisions in the Valley, saying the current plan splits up too many Latin American communities that have been united for many years.  As an alternative, Torres said she likes mapping suggestions created for the Valley by the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), which would unite both Latin American and many Armenian communities now split under Draft Plan K 2.5.

This suggestion was quickly nixed by Ali, however, who reminded the commissioners that new map submissions were closed on October 1, so new maps cannot be considered at this point, and the only map now under consideration – after a long development process by the commission – is Draft Plan K 2.5.

Commissioner Richard Polanco also reminded commissioners that the group is bound by equity rules set by the Voting Rights Act, and the LCLAA map has not been officially reviewed or vetted for compliance with redistricting requirements, is not available in the current “atlas” of maps available to all commissioners and the public, and appears at first glance to violate several VRA rules.

The debate continued, however, with Goldberg requesting that the commission look at the LCLAA map and Draft Plan K 2.5 side by side, to see if the LCLAA map might provide some good suggestions for amendments to the Draft Plan.  Several commissioners argued against this, however, for the reasons listed above…while others said they would find it helpful to look for potential amendments to Draft Plan K 2.5 in other maps, even if those other maps are not being considered as full-scale alternatives.

The debate about whether or not to allow alternate maps as sources of potential edits to the Valley sections of Draft Plan K 2.5 went on for quite a while.  But Ali eventually closed the conversation, saying “the whole process disturbs me” because it appears to be a “back door to circumvent protocols already established” by the commission. A subsequent vote on whether to allow additional maps as sources of possible amendment to Draft Plan K 2.5 failed by a margin of 6 in favor, 14 opposed, and one abstention.

As discussions of more specific Valley map edits continued, however, the topic of whether to do a major re-drawing of Valley districts resumed, with Cagna eventually moving that the commission swap in Valley districts as outlined several weeks earlier in its own Draft Plan B2 (while leaving Districts south of the Hollywood Hills as drawn in Draft Plan K 2.5).  But after another vote, this motion, too, was defeated by a margin of 4 votes in favor, 13 votes opposed, and 3 abstentions.


Commission Deliberation – Valley Issues Micro


Before, during and after the debates about whether or not to fully re-draw Valley district boundaries, the Commission did address several specific territory and boundary issues within the Valley. These included:

  • Moving Shadow Hills into CD7
  • Balancing that population move by unifying the Sun Valley area in CD 6
  • Bringing more Armenian communities together by unifying the Valley Glen Neighborhood Council area
  • Adjusting some neighborhood boundaries in the North Hills area.

A few other discussions, however, such as whether or not to return the Sepulveda Basin area to CD 6 (from which it was removed at the last meeting), were tabled for further discussion at upcoming meetings.


Next Steps/Meetings


The Valley revisions accepted so far were added to a new map – Draft Plan K 2.5 Amendment 2 – which is now available online, and which will provide the base for continuing discussion at the commission’s next meeting tonight.  Its remaining meetings include:

10-18-21, Monday, 2021 – Amend the Draft Map
10-19-21, Tuesday, 2021 – Amend the Draft Map
10-21-21, Thursday, 2021 – Adoption of Final Map
10-28-21, Thursday, 2021 – Adopt Final Report

All of the meetings will start at 6 p.m., and all are being held online at the same Zoom link.

Topic that are yet to be resolved, still very much open for public comment, and likely to be discussed either tonight or Wednesday night include:

  • Further boundary adjustments in the Valley, including districts for the Sepulveda Basin area, Warner Center, Canoga Park, Reseda and more.
  • A deep dive into East LA, including communities such as Highland Park, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Echo Park, Glassell Park, and more.
  • Reuniting another part of the Chinatown area with the rest of that neighborhood in CD 1.
  • A discussion of whether to place USC and the Exposition Park areas in CD 8 or CD 9…or whether to leave that very political decision up to the City Council.
  • A discussion of whether or not to unite Griffith Park and all of Los Feliz (including The Oaks) in one district.
  • Taking another look at the previous unification of the Melrose neighborhood in CD 13 instead of 5.
  • Uniting all of Little Ethiopia in CD 10.
  • Extending the eastern boundary of CD 5 from the middle of Manhattan Place to the alley between Manhattan Place and Western Ave., to match the eastern boundary of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area.

Video of Saturday’s meeting is available at here.


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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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