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Three South L.A. council districts sharply redrawn by panel

February 16, 2012 | 10:44 am

Jose Huizar

The Los Angeles Redistricting Commission sharply redrew the boundaries for three South Los Angeles council districts, creating a clear set of winners and losers in the city's politically charged map-making process.

In a meeting that ended shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday, Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Jose Huizar -- two close allies of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- emerged as the winners, adding highly coveted neighborhoods and commercial areas to their districts.

The losers were council members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry, who saw their proposals repeatedly rejected. After the meeting, Perry said she and Parks were both being punished for "not voting for Mr. Wesson for president and being noncompliant."

Wesson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The changes, backed by the commission in a flurry of votes, will be incorporated into a new map that will be released Saturday. The panel will cast its final votes Wednesday and Feb. 29 before sending the plan to the City Council.

Throughout the nine-hour meeting, appointees of Villaraigosa, Wesson and Huizar worked in sync as they carved up the districts represented by Perry and Parks. The panel gave Huizar even more of downtown than it had proposed for him last month, pushing Perry almost completely out of the business district she has represented since 2001.

Under the new plan, Perry, who lives in downtown, would see the northern boundary of her district run largely along Washington Boulevard. Perry had repeatedly argued that the commission would create "economic apartheid" if it severed downtown from her South Los Angeles district.

But Commissioner Michael Trujillo, an appointee of Councilman Richard Alarcon, said downtown should be reoriented toward Huizar's Eastside district.

"If you look at the majority of folks that work in these skyscrapers ... they live in Boyle Heights," said Trujillo, who worked as Huizar's campaign consultant in last year's election.

Wesson, for his part, picked up Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Vista, Village Green and part of Leimert Park -- all areas that had been represented by Parks.

The panel also pushed Wesson's district farther north so that it takes in a bigger chunk of Koreatown, a business district that has served as a rich source of campaign contributions for Wesson in recent years.

Under the proposal, Parks would no longer represent Baldwin Hills, the well-to-do black neighborhood where he lives. He also lost USC, the institution that he has represented since 2003, which will be pushed into Perry's district.

Parks and Perry have been at odds with Wesson for months.

The commission is headed by Wesson's longtime aide, Andrew Westall. The commission also took the first steps toward dismantling the much maligned, snakelike district drawn for Councilman Tom LaBonge, which would have stretched from Silver Lake to the west San Fernando Valley.

In a vote shortly after midnight, the panel voted to remove Encino from the district that had been proposed for LaBonge, who currently represents such neighborhoods as Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Hollywood.

The panel also backed away from its effort to have only one council district straddle the San Fernando Valley and the rest of the city, a move that angered some of the Valley's representatives.

Other changes approved by the commission include keeping a majority of Westchester in the district represented by Councilman Bill Rosendahl, moving Toluca Lake into the district represented by LaBonge and removing Watts from the district proposed for Perry.


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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar emerges as one of the winners in redistricting. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times