Supervisors in Transition to New Districts, Constituents : Politics: The election of Gloria Molina and the redrawing of boundaries have forced the county board members to get acquainted with their new communities.


Supervisor Deane Dana took a helicopter tour. Supervisor Ed Edelman took out subscriptions to community newspapers. And Supervisor Mike Antonovich hired Sarah Flores, who is popular in new portions of his district.

In recent weeks, Los Angeles County supervisors have hurriedly taken such steps to familiarize themselves with their redefined districts--and to make themselves known to their new constituents.

Effective last Friday, political representation officially changed for hundreds of thousands of county residents.

District lines were redrawn after a federal judge ruled last year that the old district boundaries discriminated against Latinos.

The supervisors who fought the redistricting had clung to their old districts in the hope of prevailing before the U.S. Supreme Court. But after their appeal was rejected in January, the supervisors scheduled the transition to the new districts for Friday--the same day that Gloria Molina replaced Pete Schabarum as the 1st District supervisor.

Anticipating the changes, county workers spent last week rushing to change signs on supervisorial district offices and signs on public works projects that credit the local supervisor with the improvements.

In Molina's case, the nameplates in her Lincoln Heights office are being changed from "Councilwoman Gloria Molina" to "Supervisor Gloria Molina." Now the county, instead of the city of Los Angeles, will hold the lease on her district office.

County employees also have been briefing supervisors on projects in areas now in their districts. And some supervisorial offices have been swapping files on issues and projects.

County attorneys want to send out letters informing all residents who were placed in new districts. But Asst. County Counsel Roberta Fesler said that they need to figure out a method that will not violate Proposition 73, a 1988 voter-approved measure that prohibits mass mailings at public expense.

"We think we have the obligation to inform people who represents them," said Mary Jung, the county's assistant administrative officer. Some supervisors are considering sending out letters using campaign funds.

Yet another shift in district lines will occur during the coming year. The supervisors will soon begin the routine process of using new U.S. Census results to adjust district boundaries for population changes--possibly giving some residents their third different supervisor in a year.

By law, district lines are established for voting purposes. By tradition, the board usually goes along with what a supervisor wants in his or her own district. As a result, the district representative generally determines such important matters as zoning, road location, park developments and even the location of street lights and stop signs.

Supervisors did not wait until Friday to begin adjusting to their new territory.

"I know some of the board members have been going out to meet and greet the chambers of commerce and the city councils in their new areas," said Richard B. Dixon, the county's chief administrative officer.

Edelman, who picked up much of the San Fernando Valley from Antonovich, hired Don Wallace as a field deputy. Wallace is an environmentalist who ran against Antonovich in 1988.

Antonovich hired Sarah Flores, a popular former aide to Schabarum, to serve as his deputy in the San Gabriel Valley. In the redistricting, Antonovich's 5th District lost much of the San Fernando Valley to Edelman and picked up San Gabriel Valley communities from Schabarum. Antonovich's 5th District, which already was larger in land area than the state of Delaware, grew to 2,782 square miles.

Flores is working out of Schabarum's former field office in Pomona--in the same building as her runoff opponent in last year's canceled 1st District election--Superior Court Judge Gregory O'Brien Jr. Schabarum's name is still on the door, but Flores said that she has pasted her new boss' business card and picture over Schabarum's name until a permanent sign can be posted.

Flores said that the redistricting has left residents confused. "A lot of people have come up to me and said I'm glad you're my supervisor," she said. "They think because I won the primary I automatically became the supervisor." Flores was the top vote-getter in the court-invalidated June primary in the old 1st District.

Adding to this confusion is the fact that some supervisors, as of Thursday, were still staffing their old field offices. Antonovich, for example, was still staffing a Woodland Hills office, even though the community is now in Edelman's district.

"I don't appreciate having another supervisor's office in my district," Edelman remarked.

Dana also has been working to learn his new territory. After the court-ordered redistricting, he asked a reporter, "Where is the Daily Bulletin?" Not only does he now know the Inland Empire Daily Bulletin circulates in the new San Gabriel Valley portions of his district, he has sent the newspaper a biography and photo of himself.

Dana recently took a bus tour of Downey with officials from that city and has scheduled similar excursions in other cities new to his district.

He also took a three-hour helicopter tour of new parts of his district with the county's fire chief, planning director and public works director.

"I also went to the (county-operated) Puente Hills Landfill," Dana said. "I had never been there."

The shift in representation has already resulted in political changes.

Edelman, a slow-growth advocate who replaced the pro-development Dana as Malibu's supervisor, brought in a motion to speed up cityhood for the seaside community--an action that had been resisted by the area's former supervisor.

Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, whose South-Central Los Angeles 2nd District picked up Compton from Dana, said he has set up meetings with Compton officials. But the longtime supervisor said: "They all know me. In fact, I've always received letters from people in Compton thinking I was their supervisor."

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