LA County Redistricting is to be handled by an independent commission
From Dolores Quintana
The city of Santa Monica becomes part of a new LA County county selected by the newly created and independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. It is possible that Santa Monica is in a borough made up of cities from the South Bay or the San Fernando Valley. This commission has 14 members, one of whom is from Santa Monica. The Commission has already looked through proposed maps with freshly drawn district lines.
On October 30, 2021, the commissioners selected four cards from the dozen presented to the commission by the public as well as four by other commissioners. After the choices are narrowed down, the Commission will continue the process until December 15th when the final redistribution card is selected.
“Each of the cards are making some moderate changes,” said Inspector Brian Stecher, as quoted by the Santa Monica Lookout. Stecher is the only member of the commission who lives in Santa Monica and works as a social scientist at RAND Corporation.
One particular map of Santa Monica caused some concern and confusion among residents of the city. In it, the area of Montana Avenue was moved to another district and submitted by Stecher. This map prompted the North Of Montana Association, or NOMA, to send a letter to the commission questioning the map’s district lines after it was posted on the commission’s website. In the letter from NOMA President Nancy Coleman, “it would mean asking two managers to do something with the county.” as quoted by the Santa Monica Lookout.
Stecher acknowledged that the division of the area north of Montana Avenue was a mistake while in turn using the district line drawing software. As quoted by the Santa Monica Lookout, he said, “This is a mistake. The software used is very complex. My intention is to keep the city together. “
The new commission is a big change from the traditional methods of redistributing the city. The LA county supervisors used to do the job that resulted in individuals attempting to draw the district maps in a way that would benefit them and their chances of being reelected to their posts. The election commission placed the election in the hands of ordinary citizens who received their positions through the luck of the draw and their individual qualifications. As reported by the Santa Monica Outlook, 741 people applied for four places on the commission. The district administration selected 60 of the applications with the best qualifications and passed them on to the city controller. From there, the controller randomly selected five applicants for each of the five districts and then selected another three applicants. These eight commissioners were the ones who made the choice over the last six commissioners.
Commissioners must hear public comments and issues before making a decision based on the 2020 census. The reassignment must also take place in accordance with the law within the meaning of the Federal Electoral Act and the districts may not be determined in favor of a party or a candidate. The districts must connect cities geographically and must be “drawn in such a way that the separation of cities, districts or interest groups is minimized”.
The Commission will continue to comment publicly on the last four cards so that it can continue to revise the cards to the public’s satisfaction, and then the public can comment on the revisions, with the final vote on December 15th.