Area May Lose Numbers Game in Redistricting : Reapportionment: An eastward population shift threatens to diminish the Valley’s representation in the Legislature and fragment its districts.
The political map of the San Fernando Valley area is expected to be dramatically reconfigured in this decade’s version of the California reapportionment game.
The arithmetic goes like this: Based on 1990 census data, each of the state’s 40 Senate districts must contain at least 744,000 people and each of the 80 Assembly districts must contain at least 372,000 people.
To reach those numbers, two-thirds of the area’s 15 legislative districts need to add thousands of new constituents because population gains in newer suburbs have outstripped those in older urban areas.
Consequently, the boundaries for those seats could be combined or shifted eastward. That could cause one or more of the incumbents to lose their jobs. And it could trigger a ripple effect that ultimately boosts representation in such fast-growing Republican-leaning areas as the Antelope Valley and Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
“With the population static on most of the coast and ballooning inland . . . that will definitely tip the scales of power to the inland counties,” said Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale), a member of the Assembly Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee that is fashioning a redistricting plan.
Statewide, the ultimate result of the redistricting process could be a cut in the Democratic majorities in the Legislature. In the Senate, the current lineup is 26 Democrats, 11 Republicans and one independent, with two vacancies. In the Assembly, the breakdown is 47 Democrats, 32 Republicans and one vacancy.
Los Angeles County, currently represented by all or part of 17 Senate districts and 28 Assembly districts, could lose parts of several districts and perhaps one Assembly seat, according to legislative aides.
In the San Fernando Valley, legislative sources said, the result probably will be diminished representation, though the exact shape and size of the districts will not be decided for months.
Moreover, there has been some speculation that political map makers will carve out a heavily Latino seat from the districts of Democratic Assemblymen Richard Katz of Sylmar and Tom Bane of Tarzana. Also, at least four Valley lawmakers are regarded as potential candidates for Congress.
Historically, as population grew in Los Angeles during most of this century, reapportionment turf fights revolved around skirmishes between Northern and Southern California. Now, given the population shifts within Southern California, part of the battle may end up pitting the interests of such fast-growing areas as Lancaster and Palmdale against well-established coastal communities.
A look at census figures highlights why legislative boundaries are expected to be pulled toward the inland areas. For instance, the population of Palmdale grew a whopping 461% to 68,842 and Lancaster grew 103% to 97,291 between 1980 and 1990. By comparison, the city of Los Angeles grew 17% during that period, while the state as a whole was growing by 26%.
One wild card in the equation is that the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this month released new information indicating that as many as 1.5 million Californians were overlooked in the 1990 census. If those numbers are incorporated into redistricting plans, the exact population required in new districts will increase, according to legislative map makers.
Before the “undercount” figures were released, legislative committees estimated that the 22nd Senate District represented by Democrat Herschel Rosenthal of Los Angeles needed 78,000 people to reach the 744,000 population figure that the new boundaries need--more than any other Valley-area lawmaker. Others who were below the figure included Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) in the 23rd District, 63,000; Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana) in the 20th District, 51,500, and Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara) in the 18th District, 24,500.
In the Assembly, Democrat Terry B. Friedman’s 43rd District, which straddles the Valley and the Westside, needs to pick up 70,729 people to reach the 372,000 population total required for new Assembly districts. Other Assembly members who are below that figure are: Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) in the 37th District, 13,600; Paula Boland (R-Northridge) in the 38th District, 23,933; Bane in the 40th District, 14,464; Nolan in the 41st District, 27,256; and Burt Margolin (D-Los Angeles) in the 45th District, 43,120.
Lawmakers representing fast-growing areas, especially the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, face the opposite predicament and must shed constituents. Republican Assemblyman Phillip D. Wyman, who represents Lancaster and Palmdale, must give up 135,000 people. Sen. Newton R. Russell (R-Glendale) in the 21st District must give up 52,000 people; Sen. Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield) in the 16th District must lose 37,000 people, while Sen. Ed Davis (R-Santa Clarita) in the 19th District has 11,200 people too many.
Members of Congress must also drop population, largely because the state is gaining as many as eight new congressional seats. At least one of those new districts is likely to be somewhere in Los Angeles County, according to legislative sources. A congressional district must have at least 572,000 people.
The preliminary figures show that Rep. William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield) in the 20th District is 187,000 over the minimum 572,000 required for a new district. According to estimates released by the Legislature, other House seats are also over the ideal district size: Elton Gallegly’s 21st District by 121,000; Carlos Moorhead’s 22nd District, 66,000; Anthony Beilenson’s 23rd District, 11,000; Henry A. Waxman’s 24th District, 61,000; and Howard Berman’s 26th District, 68,000.
The biggest growth was registered in Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis’ 35th District, which includes booming Palmdale as well as fast-growing parts of San Bernardino County. Lewis’ district is 322,000 over the ideal of 572,000 for a new congressional district.
Once the Legislature approves a reapportionment plan, it goes to Gov. Pete Wilson for his signature. No matter what Wilson decides, it is widely expected that the final maps will face court challenges, especially from Latino or Asian groups seeking increased minority representation.
A key issue in the Valley is how many districts will be anchored in the area or split among the Valley and other geographic areas.
Robbins maintained that historically the Valley has been used by Democrats “to provide population for districts centered on the Westside” and by the GOP “to provide population for districts centered to the north, in Republican areas.”
Robbins said that his goal during the current redistricting is “to make sure that as much of the Valley as possible is represented by districts that are either entirely in the San Fernando Valley or primarily in the Valley.”
He said he wants to avoid splitting communities. For example, he noted that a decade ago, redistricting divided Woodland Hills among himself, Rosenthal, Hart and Davis.
But Margolin said that while there may be a theoretical value in Robbins’ argument, he also sees an advantage in having as many Valley lawmakers as possible. “I know the power of numbers,” Margolin said, citing how a local issue is more likely to win legislative support if the Valley has more representation.
Katz, whose district must lose 9,200 people, said that “you can create in reapportionment almost anything you want. But the question is what is the best way people can get fair representation.”
Indeed, changes in the federal Voting Rights Act require that the map makers take steps to ensure that minority representation is not shortchanged.
A key question is how map makers will handle the Valley’s growing Latino population. For instance, Katz’s district is almost 53% Latino and Bane’s is almost 35%.
One legislative aide said that if those two districts were split on a north-south axis, the Legislature might be able to establish a seat that could be captured by a Latino candidate.
Katz said he does not believe that the population will warrant a Latino seat being created. He said that besides race, other considerations--including keeping communities together--must be factored into drawing the legislative lines.
Some lawmakers have said that the districts of Sen. Hart and Assemblywoman Wright, which straddle Los Angeles and Ventura counties, will be pushed out of Los Angeles County.
Wright, who needs to add 13,600 people to her district, suggested that she might give up part of the Antelope Valley and pick up parts of Simi Valley that she currently does not represent.
With the exact lines months away from being drawn, Rosenthal, Friedman and Margolin all have indicated an interest in running for Congress, probably for the Westside and South Bay seat held by Rep. Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica), should he run for the U.S. Senate.
Also, Hart is considered a potential congressional candidate in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
The prospect of state lawmakers jumping into congressional races is being taken seriously for several reasons. First, term limits for state lawmakers imposed last year by the passage of Proposition 140 have prompted some legislators to contemplate new political opportunities.
Second, in contrast to a decade ago, state legislators plan to exercise more control over the drawing of congressional lines than they did after the 1980 census, according to Nolan.
“Ten years ago, they were willing to accept” a plan drawn up by the late Democratic Rep. Phillip Burton of San Francisco, Nolan said. But this time, he predicted, they will listen to their congressional colleagues and “then go ahead and draw whatever they want.”
REDISTRICTING According to the Legislature, each Assembly district must contain at least 372,000 people, each state Senate district at least 744,000 people and each congressional district at least 572,000 people. A plus (+) indicates those whose districts have too many people and a minus (-) those who have too few. ASSEMBLY Phillip D. Wyman: +135,211 Richard Katz: +9,240 Cathie Wright: -13,600 Tom Bane: -14,464 Paula L. Boland: -23,933 Pat Nolan: -27,256 Burt Margolin: -43,120 Terry B. Friedman: -70,729 STATE SENATE Newton R. Russell: +52,000 Don Rogers: +37,000 Ed Davis: +11,200 Gary K. Hart: -24,500 Alan Robbins: -51,500 David A. Roberti: -63,000 Herschel Rosenthal: -78,000 CONGRESS Jerry Lewis: +322,000 William M. Thomas: +187,000 Elton Gallegly: +121,000 Howard L. Berman: +68,000 Carlos J. Moorhead: +66,000 Henry A. Waxman: +61,000 Anthony C. Beilenson: +11,000 Source: U. S. Census, legislative committees