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Redistricting commission hears from the public in Culver City

June 16, 2011 | 10:08 pm

In the first public hearing since a citizen commission released its first draft of proposed California voting districts last week, about 400 people turned out Thursday evening to offer their thoughts about the maps.

An overflow crowd filled the seats in the Culver City council chambers and competed for space along the walls before spilling into the lobby and a nearby room equipped with television sets tuned to the meeting.

State voters gave the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission the task of redrawing seats for Congress, the Legislature and the State Board of Equalization—a job previously done by lawmakers. The commission has been gathering public input throughout the state and plans to revise the maps twice more before Aug. 15.

“When you draw these lines, it has a real effect on people,” said one of the 237 attendees from all over the L.A. Basin who signed up to speak, representing a wide swath of ethnic groups, ages and geography. Many thanked the commission for the opportunity to give testimony.

Ric Loya, a former mayor of Huntington Park who taught high school for 30 years, urged the commissioners to keep seven southeastern Los Angeles County cities together, noting that they had all once been a part of the San Antonio Ranch.  “I urge you to keep the southeast together and not tear them apart,” he said.

Some participants from north Long Beach were concerned about being joined with Long Beach’s wealthier communities, such as Belmont Shore. One speaker, Michael Hernandez, said north Long Beach is very different economically and ethnically from the more affluent areas. “Our voices are often drowned out,” Hernandez said.

Time didn’t permit all of the possible speakers a turn at the podium, but the commissioners said those who wished to submit testimony by email or letter could do so. And there will be several more meetings around the state where additional public input will be sought.


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--Jean Merl