Opinion | Some Los Angeles renters may lose their elected councilor

One could assume that, given the numbers – after all, it is home to 12,000 residents – Park La Brea does not run the risk of losing political influence. But organizing these voters can be a challenge.

Homeowners always have a number of advantages over tenants: they stay in the same place longer, usually only work once, usually speak the same language in a certain area, and, perhaps most importantly, feel like they have to protect something that belongs to them. On the flip side, tenant organizers need to try to unite people who may only want to stay in an apartment for a year, who may not understand English, and who spend most of the time at work.

Raman and her team won their seat, among other things, because they did something that might previously have seemed impossible: They were first-time voters, many of whom were tenants. Some of this happened through specific messages: for example, when Raman’s team went to La Brea Park, they brought tenant-specific literature with them. How much of it was simply a product of their choice, which coincided with the last presidential election, is still difficult to gauge. But while she makes sure to always say that she represents homeowners and renters alike, Raman also says: [tenants] in the center in many ways because they have been ignored. “

As part of the current reallocation plans, Raman will represent a very different group of voters, which means they may have to adjust their political plans and find new supporters. “I spent two years telling the people in our district who never voted, who never got involved in city politics, that their voice is important, that it needs to be heard,” Raman told me. “It would make me incredibly sad if they were told by a very small group of insiders and a process aimed at keeping people out that their votes had been delegitimized.”

But even if the Redistricting Commission shifts its route to the San Fernando Valley, its election could have set a roadmap for future progressives in Los Angeles and the Bay Area who need power to address their region’s # 1 political problem: affordable housing and homelessness . Can you build a sustainable coalition of tenants whose power is not marred by competing interests?

Shore believes there could be a way to consolidate tenant power using the same “community interest” strategy that has worked so well for homeowners. “The community of interests we identify are tenants – multicultural, tenant-rich communities,” Shore told me. He talked about different ways to create maps to ensure that areas with many tenants are not penalized against homeowner associations in their district.

“Homeowners’ interests have never suffered from a lack of political attention in LA City Council,” Shore said. “From a political point of view, I think it is important that tenants have a unified voice.”

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Jay Caspian Kang (@jaycaspiankang), author of Opinion and The New York Times Magazine, is the author of The Loneliest Americans.

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