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California redistricting: New districts OKd by citizens panel

August 15, 2011 | 10:45 am

Photo: California state Capitol. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times A citizens panel gave final approval Monday to new boundaries for California’s state and congressional legislative districts, setting the stage for possible challenges to the plan in the courtroom and on the ballot.

The maps adopted Monday by the Citizens Redistricting Commission will be used during the next decade in elections for 120 seats in the state Legislature, 53 congressional seats and four seats on the state Board of Equalization.

"Given the conflicting requirements, I think we did a very good job," said Commission Chairman Vincent Barabba, a Republican businessman from Santa Cruz County who is a former director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Interactive map: Has your district changed?

The 14-person panel was created after voters approved Proposition 11 in November 2008 to take the job of redistricting away from legislators, who drew the boundaries in a way that helped make sure incumbents were reelected.

Some Republican members of Congress have complained about how the districts were drawn and hinted that the new districts could be subject to a court challenge.

California Republican Party spokesman Mark Standriff said it is "less likely" the state party will go to court, and a decision on whether to put a referendum on the ballot to challenge the plan will probably be made this week.

Commissioners meeting at the Capitol in Sacramento said their work was vetted by attorneys and they are confident it would withstand any legal challenge.

"If the criteria is 'Did we follow the law?' the answer is 'Yes,' " Barabba said.

The commission was praised Monday by Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, the group behind the 2008 ballot measure that created the panel to redraw state legislative districts and the 2010 follow-up initiative that extended its work to congressional districts.

“The process was in stark contrast to the previous system, when legislators drew their own district lines, often dividing neighborhoods or groups of people in ways that benefitted their own political ambitions," Feng said.

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-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo: California state Capitol. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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