Redistricting map shakes up L.A. political landscape
Los Angeles' Redistricting Commission released its proposed boundary lines for 15 City Council seats, pushing one district deeper into the San Fernando Valley, pulling another completely out of it and employing what Councilman Bill Rosendahl called an "outrageous case of gerrymandering" against his coastal district.
If approved, the draft map would move Councilman Tom LaBonge’s 4th District west into such Valley neighborhoods as Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Encino and Lake Balboa, according to information released Wednesday by the 21-member commission. LaBonge would lose neighborhoods in and around Wilshire Boulevard, such as Miracle Mile, Hancock Park and Larchmont Village.
LaBonge said he had not seen the boundaries but described them as “very odd.” He voiced hope that the boundaries would be discussed in upcoming meetings.
“The citizen's commission will do its work and then the City Council will do its work,” he said.
San Fernando Valley leaders had been pushing for their region to get a sixth council district that is entirely within the Valley. The proposal released Wednesday did not do that. But it did make LaBonge’s district far more Valley focused, reaching across the 405 Freeway to west parts of the Valley. The map also pushed Councilman Paul Koretz’s district south out of the Valley and into neighborhoods once represented by LaBonge.
Koretz said he liked the idea of picking up Hancock Park. But he voiced disappointment at losing Valley constituents. “I enjoy the areas I’ve represented. I have an excellent relationship with the community groups there,” he said.
Among the most dramatic moves was a proposal to take part of Westchester out of Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s district. Even before the maps were released, Rosendahl had fired off an email encouraging his constituents to sign a petition demanding that Westchester remain in his district.
“If you're proud of the sense of community we have on the Westside, and don't want anyone to mess with that, we need to mobilize and stop an outrageous case of gerrymandering that threatens our council district!” he wrote.
The Redistricting Commission is charged with recommending changes to council boundaries based on shifts in the population Census figures from 2010 that show that Los Angeles is now 48.5% Latino, 28.6% white, 11.3% Asian and 9.2% black. Part of the panel’s job is to ensure representation for a specific number of minority districts.
The draft maps were drawn by commissioners in a series of closed-door meetings by subcommittees who did not have to comply with the state’s open meeting law. Other proposals in those maps include:
-- Councilwoman Jan Perry’s district would be shifted south, causing her to lose much of downtown but keeping Staples Center and L.A. Live. Councilman Jose Huizar would pick up much of downtown, with Olympic Boulevard serving as the border;
-- Councilman Paul Krekorian would lose Sunland-Tujunga, which would be moved into to Councilman Richard Alarcon’s district;
-- Councilman Bernard C. Parks would keep the Baldwin Hills neighborhood where he lives but lose the residential portion of Leimert Park to Council President Herb Wesson. Parks would also get the portion of Westchester lost by Rosendahl.
Bernard Parks Jr., who serves as Parks’ chief of staff, said Westchester makes more sense in the 11th District represented by Rosendahl, since that is where LAX is.
“It’s a great community. But how do you split Westchester from the airport?” he said.
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Image: New proposed Los Angeles City Council districts. Credit: Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission