Yaroslavsky denounces plans to create new Latino-majority district
In a pointed statement Friday, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky condemned plans to create a second Latino-majority district for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, describing two pending proposals as "a bald-faced gerrymander that is completely unnecessary."
"I'm utterly convinced that these redistricting schemes would significantly injure our ability to fight together" on issues affecting his Westside and San Fernando Valley district, Yaroslavsky wrote in a blog post to constituents.
He also asserted that the federal Voting Rights Act does not require the county to create a second Latino-majority district. Latinos currently make up nearly half of the county population.
Yaroslavsky discounted the notion that whites and other racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles County consistently vote together to defeat Latino candidates, citing the successes of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and county Sheriff Lee Baca.
The statement deepens the deadlock that supervisors have hit on how best to balance voting areas based on population figures from the 2010 census. Four of the five supervisors must agree on a plan by the end of September or the decision will be made for them by a panel of other elected county officials.
Under the two plans, Yaroslavsky's district would be carved up either so he would represent a strip of heavily Latino communities cutting through the central part of the county or a coastal district stretching from Malibu to Long Beach.
One, offered by Mark Ridley-Thomas, a black supervisor from Leimert Park, would sever parts of the Valley -- north to Sylmar and west to Canoga Park -- from Yaroslavsky's current district. A second Latino-majority district would be shaped out of Supervisor Don Knabe's territory in the eastern San Gabriel Valley.
The second proposal -- from the board's only Latino, Supervisor Gloria Molina -- offers to keep Knabe's Cerritos home in a coastal district, but then draw Yaroslavsky's Fairfax neighborhood into a Latino-majority district. Yaroslavsky's new district would stretch from the eastern San Fernando Valley through downtown to East L.A.
Any new districts would be put in place 30 days after they are approved.
"Proponents claim it’s needed to comply with the law," Yaroslavsky said, "but that just isn’t so. In fact, this proposal turns federal law on its head by ignoring changing voting patterns in our increasingly diverse county....
"Frankly, the notion that non-minorities won’t vote for a minority candidate in L.A. County is antiquated. Los Angeles in 2011 is not the same as the Los Angeles of forty, thirty or even twenty years ago. Our county is politically and socially far more mature and broad-minded....
"I strongly believe that it is possible to redistrict this county in a manner that protects the voting rights of minorities without dismembering established communities of interest, without shifting nearly 40% of our population from one district to another, and without relying on antiquated assumptions about the voting behavior of different ethnic groups."
--- Rong-Gong Lin II
Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky at a meeting in 2009. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times