Party Allies at Odds Over Redistricting : Politics: State Sens. Diane Watson and Herschel Rosenthal clash over plans to put Marina del Rey in Rosenthal’s district.
A political turf fight over Marina del Rey is brewing between longtime Los Angeles Democratic state Senate allies Diane Watson and Herschel Rosenthal.
The squabble surfaced last week after Senate leaders unveiled their plan for the once-a-decade redrawing of Senate boundaries. Under the proposal, Watson would be forced to cede Marina del Rey to Rosenthal.
Although Watson plans to run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next year, her Senate term does not expire until 1994 and she plans to fight to keep the well-to-do seaside community in her district.
Without the marina, she says, “every affluent area has been taken out of the district.” She also said she wants “to build a solid district for someone else,” especially another black politician who could use the heavily minority district as an opportunity to win a Senate seat.
But Rosenthal and Senate map makers say Watson faces an uphill battle. Rosenthal said the marina fits neatly into his coastal district, which already includes Venice and Santa Monica.
The new lines were released at a Capitol news conference by Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) and Republican Senate Leader Ken Maddy of Fresno.
Whether the proposed political map will be adopted remains in doubt. The plan is still subject to fine-tuning before it is voted on by lawmakers, who are scheduled to redraw Assembly, Senate and congressional lines before they recess for the year on Friday. Maps for the Assembly and congressional districts are set to be released later this week.
At stake is control of the 40-member state Senate, where the breakdown is 26 Democrats, 13 Republicans and 1 Independent.
Although there are changes in geography, voter registration in Westside districts would remain virtually unchanged, meaning the seats would continue to favor the incumbent party.
The redistricting plan is based on the 1990 Census and is a once-a-decade exercise to ensure an equal number of residents in each of the state’s 40 Senate districts.
As expected, the Senate proposal shifts political clout away from coastal areas and into inland counties that have been growing at a much faster clip. Map makers had to reach farther east and south to ensure that most Westside Senate districts had the required 744,000 people.
Changes in Westside districts were prompted by those population shifts and the dictates of the federal Voting Rights Act, which directs map makers to maximize the opportunities of blacks, Latinos and other minorities to win legislative seats.
But Watson seems to be suggesting that the line-drawers should also take economics into consideration when remapping Senate districts. She maintains that her district is being turned into a low-income “ghetto.”
Tim Hodson, consultant to the Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee, which drew up the proposal, said the marina decision was prompted by the need to add 120,000 people to Rosenthal’s district.
But geography and politics limited the options. With the ocean on the west and Watson’s district to the east, Rosenthal’s district could only grow north or south. To the north in the San Fernando Valley, the plan proposes to add Tarzana. But the bulk of the growth is to the south, where Rosenthal’s new district would stretch past the marina into El Segundo and Lawndale.
Citing the district’s coastal orientation, Hodson said, “there’s also a legitimate argument (of) trying to keep coastal communities intact” in a single district.
Under the Senate proposal, the shape of Westside Senate districts would be as follows:
* The 18th District of Sen. Gary K. Hart (D-Santa Barbara) would continue to reach south into Ventura County and Malibu. In Los Angeles County, it would also include Canoga Park and Woodland Hills. Democratic registration would remain around 46%.
* Rosenthal’s 22nd District would retain Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, the Pico-Robertson area, Studio City and Culver City. It would drop Encino but pick up Lawndale, El Segundo and Tarzana. The seat would continue to be a safe Democratic district, with Democratic registration remaining around 58%.
* The 23rd District of Senate President Roberti would keep Hollywood, West Hollywood, Silver Lake, Hancock Park, Griffith Park and Burbank. Losing Dodger Stadium and Koreatown, the district would pick up Eagle Rock, Altadena, part of Glendale and about 75% of Pasadena. Democratic registration would drop about 3% to 55.5%.
* Watson’s 28th District would still encompass Inglewood, Hawthorne and areas around Los Angeles International Airport. Although dropping Marina del Rey, it would gain Gardena, Harbor Gateway and part of Torrance. Democratic registration in the district would continue to hover around 73%.