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Board of Supervisors weighs idea of new Latino-majority district

August 9, 2011 | 12:17 pm

Supervisor Don Knabe

An epic redistricting battle over whether to boost Latino representation on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors or protect incumbents began Tuesday morning.

Latino activists are pushing for the county to create a second Latino-majority district, saying demographic shifts in the last decade demand it. Latinos now make up 48% of the county population, up from 45% in 2000, Census data show. And Latinos constitute a third of the county's potential voters, up from a little more than one in four a decade ago.

But a map to create such a district could imperil the reelection chances of Republican Supervisor Don Knabe, who would see his largely white coastal district on the western and southern edges of the county shifted eastward into the heavily Latino eastern San Gabriel Valley, which is currently represented by Gloria Molina.

Molina’s district would then take in from Zev Yaroslavsky’s district significant portions of the San Fernando Valley, such as heavily Latino neighborhoods as far north as Sylmar and as far west as Canoga Park. Yaroslavsky, in turn, would then pick up the western half of Knabe’s district, beginning from Marina del Rey to the South Bay, the Palos Verdes peninsula and into Long Beach.

No vote is scheduled Tuesday, but the public discussion is expected to be intense. On Monday, Latino groups sent out statements urging residents to show up and push for better San Gabriel Valley and Latino representation. Meanwhile, many municipal officials from Knabe's district have voiced support for preserving it, arguing that Knabe has a record of understanding the region.

If supervisors want to propose their own maps, they must do so by Aug. 16. A critical public hearing on those proposals would be on Sept. 6. While the supervisors are required to approve a map by Oct. 31, realistically, a map would need to be approved no later than Sept. 27 to meet various other legal requirements.

A remapping plan must garner the support of four of the five county supervisors, according to a provision in the county charter. If supervisors cannot get an 80% majority, the decision, under state law, would go to a panel of three countywide elected officials -- Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, Sheriff Lee Baca and Assessor John R. Noguez.

RELATED:

Bid for 2nd Latino supervisor sets up fight

Hispanic population tops 50 million in United States

Census data reveal a strong increase in nontraditional households

-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Photo: Supervisor Don Knabe. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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