The Los Angeles City Council approved the final map for the city’s 15 council districts on Dec. 7.
The map, based on 2020 Census data, will take effect at the beginning of 2022 and will define district lines in Los Angeles for the next decade.
Councilmembers unanimously approved the map, with Councilman Joe Buscaino absent and former Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas suspended for allegations of bribery and fraud.
This comes as Angelenos call for a fully independent redistricting process after the council president tossed out more than a year’s worth of work by a citizen-led commission and developed a new map under an Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee.
“Because the process in Los Angeles was ultimately decided by the council, instead of through an independent commission, the public input only matters so much,” David Burke, founder of Citizens Take Action—an organization advocating to reform the city’s redistricting process and ultimately form an independent redistricting commission—told The Epoch Times.
“[The public] gave testimony and offered feedback on draft maps, only to see the hybrid map created out of the labor council’s proposed map that public members didn’t even give input on.”
Burke said many Angelenos were frustrated with the lack of transparency in the redistricting process.
Though he was disappointed in the process and results of this years’ redistricting, Burke urged Angelenos to continue to show up and use their voices at council meetings.
“It’s understandable to look at LA City Council and see corruption and a lack of transparency and get disheartened and maybe even be tempted to turn away from the process or politics,” Burke said. “But I urge you to do the opposite. Because if you turn away, it’s only going to get worse. Whereas if you start showing up at council meetings and put pressure on your representatives, there’s at least a chance that it will get better.”
The original redistricting commission, comprising 21 appointed citizens, submitted its map proposal on Oct. 21 after spending nearly a year listening to 15,000 public and written testimonies from Angelenos.
The commission’s recommended map reshaped several key districts in the city, including Councilman Paul Krekorian’s District 2 and Councilwoman Nithya Raman’s District 4, and proposed an entirely new district for the west San Fernando Valley, which Krekorian or Raman would oversee, but left that final decision up to the city council.
Council President Nury Martinez called for a reworking of the submitted map, however, claiming the map relied on census data that was “inaccurate” and undercounted many as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new map, proposed by Martinez during the only Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee meeting on Nov. 5, is a “hybrid” of the commission’s original submitted map and was created by a labor council, which the commission had previously rejected for its late submission and its lack of vetting by the commission.
On visual evaluation, the district lines adopted from the labor council’s map change districts 2, 6, 7, and 12 only minimally, allowing councilmembers to keep their constituencies intact.
Raman and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson were the two dissenting voices who voted against the hybrid map on Nov. 9.
Raman argued at the Nov. 9 meeting that her district loses 42 percent of its constituents, more than double the amount of any other district.
Some Angelenos praised the council for uniting several key areas of the city under one council district, including Koreatown, which will be united under District 10, and Hollywood in District 13.
However, several residents expressed disappointment with the decision to split Studio City between Council Districts 2 and 4, and divide Reseda between Districts 3 and 4.
Randall Fried, president of the Studio City Neighborhood Council, told The Epoch Times that many in his neighborhood were concerned about being represented by a councilmember they didn’t vote for.
“Most of Studio City did not vote for Raman,” Fried said. “I’m sure she’s wonderful and will hopefully do a great job in listening to all in Studio City. But that’s not who the people voted for. So [our] simple, principled stance is that we felt that stakeholders should be represented by the person actually voted for.”
Once Studio City is split, Fried said, the neighborhood council’s work will double, since it will be working with two council district offices instead of one.
“The neighborhood council still represents … Studio City; but now instead of doing working with one council office … we need to liaise with two counsel offices, two deputy field directors, and so on,” Fried said.
The city council’s handling of the redistricting process was met with criticism from many Angelenos.
Fred Ali, chair of the redistricting commission, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times calling for a redistricting commission fully independent of the council for 2031’s map.
“Our democracy pledges no allegiance to incumbents and their reelection, nor should our redistricting process,” Ali wrote. “Preservation of old council district lines and protection of council members is not the purpose of redistricting. Fair representation is.”
The new district lines are to take effect Jan. 1, 2022.