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City Council members propose dozens of changes to L.A. redistricting map

The final map approved by L.A.'s redistricting commission.
The final map approved by L.A.'s redistricting commission. City Council members have proposed dozens of changes.
(City of Los Angeles)

The Los Angeles City Council took the first step Tuesday toward reworking a controversial map of the city’s political boundaries, with council members drawing up 38 proposals for reworking the plan submitted by a citizens commission.

Some of the proposals are minor, such as one to ensure that Little Ethiopia is placed in a single council district. Others are far more sweeping, raising the possibility that major chunks of the Redistricting Commission’s draft map could be discarded and replaced.

Council President Nury Martinez, a critic of the commission’s work, called for city officials to prepare an alternative redistricting map, one that relies heavily on a proposal submitted last month by a Latino labor group. Under her proposal, the labor map would serve as a template for several districts in the the San Fernando Valley, including her own.

The labor map calls for Martinez to reclaim key parts of her district, including the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area and the neighborhood of Lake Balboa. It also would keep intact much of the East Valley district represented by Councilman Paul Krekorian, who has been facing the possibility of representing an area that is 100% new to him.

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Martinez’s proposal does not explain what would happen to neighborhoods immediately south of the Valley, on the Eastside or in the central part of the city. A spokeswoman said the city’s policy analysts would look at options for those areas.

The Redistricting Commission declined last month to take up the labor map, which would push Councilwoman Nithya Raman’s district deep into the Westside, stretching it from Silver Lake into the neighborhoods of Pico-Robertson, Cheviot Hills and Palms.

The burst of map-making proposals sets the stage for a major debate among council members over who will get to represent particular neighborhoods, business districts and economic assets. Raising the stakes even further, that debate is playing out on the eve of a city election campaign, with eight council seats up for grabs.

The Redistricting Commission submitted its map to the council last week, recommending major changes to districts represented by Raman, Krekorian and Councilman Bob Blumenfield. The commission’s proposal, if approved, would move either Raman or Krekorian to the new West Valley district — an idea that has infuriated supporters of both council members.

Krekorian and Raman have repeatedly argued that the commission’s proposal would disenfranchise the constituents who voted for them in last year’s election. Both council members grilled commission Chairman Fred Ali on Tuesday, saying the commission made crucial decisions in secret and confused voters by failing to number their districts.

“That has been an incredibly confusing, frustrating and saddening process for people who felt like they deeply, deeply engaged in this city,” Raman said.

With Rep. Karen Bass giving up her seat, some worry about L.A.’s Black representation.

Ali disputed Raman and Krekorian’s characterizations, saying the commission’s decisions received public votes. And he defended the proposed map, saying it preserves Black and Latino political voices, places Koreatown in a single district and establishes 5.7 districts within the Valley, among other things.

“No map is perfect, and we don’t claim that this one is,” he said at one point. “But it accomplishes important goals advocated [by] the public.”

By the time Tuesday’s meeting ended, Raman had written nine proposals for changing the commission’s map, many of them aimed at preserving portions of her Hollywood Hills district. Krekorian drafted several more.

While some council members worked to rebuild their districts, others took steps to claim economic assets.

Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents part of South Los Angeles, drafted a proposal to move USC out of Councilman Curren Price’s district and into his own. Price, in turn, introduced a motion to prevent Exposition Park, which sits next to USC, from being shifted into Harris-Dawson’s district.

The 38 redistricting proposals will be taken up Friday by the council’s new ad hoc committee on redistricting, which will have seven members: Martinez, Raman, Blumenfield, Price and Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz and Kevin de León.

Of those seven members, four had appointees on the redistricting commission who voted against its proposed map.


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