Over objections, L.A. City Council approves new voting districts
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave final approval to new boundaries for its 15 voting districts, over the objections of Korean American activists and two council members who represent much of South Los Angeles.
The council voted 13 to 2 for the new maps, with council members Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry opposed. Parks and Perry have complained repeatedly that their fellow elected officials -– including Council President Herb Wesson and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -– used the once-a-decade redistricting process to strip their districts of major assets.
Perry said the lines were also drawn in a way to position well-connected officials for their own election campaigns. One example, she said, is Ana Cubas, Councilman Jose Huizar’s former chief of staff, who announced last month that she will run for Perry’s seat in March.
“It looks like it was all about creating an opportunity for people looking to run for public office,” she said.
Although she has been registered to vote in Councilman Ed Reyes’ Eastside district in recent years, Cubas filled out paperwork in May saying she will run to represent Perry’s reconfigured South Los Angeles district.
Cubas, who earns $147,000 annually in her City Hall job, did not respond to a request for comment. But Edward Johnson, a Wesson spokesman, said there was “no truth” to Perry’s allegation, which he described as “unsubstantiated.”
Wednesday’s vote also will give Huizar a much greater share of downtown, including several areas that had been represented by Perry.
The maps have already drawn lawsuit threats from Koreatown activists, who tried without success earlier this year to pull their neighborhood out of Wesson’s district. When they showed up to testify one last time on the topic, Wesson and 12 other council members declined to let them speak.
“I do not intend to open this thing up again,” Wesson said.
Grace Yoo, executive director of the Korean American Coalition, said the council’s handling of the redistricting process would result in expensive legal bills for City Hall. Last week, the council set aside nearly $300,000 to defend itself from future redistricting lawsuits.
“Don’t kid yourselves,” she told council members during their public comment period. “That’s not the ceiling but just the floor.”
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Then-Chief of Staff Ana Cubas at a Boyle Heights gathering held last year to kick off the election campaign of her boss, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times