Los Angeles City Council took the first step on Tuesday to revise a controversial map of the city’s political boundaries. The council members drew up 38 proposals to revise the plan presented by a citizens’ commission.
Some of the suggestions are insignificant, such as one to ensure that Little Ethiopia is housed in a single ward. Others are far broader and increase the possibility that large parts of the Redistribution Commission’s draft could be discarded and replaced.
Council President Nury Martinez, a critic of the Commission’s work, urged city officials to create an alternative redistribution map, heavily based on a proposal made by a Latino working group last month. According to her proposal, the job card would serve as a template for several districts in the San Fernando Valley, including her own.
The job card tells Martinez to retake key parts of her district, including the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area and the Lake Balboa neighborhood. It would also keep much of the East Valley district intact, represented by Alderman Paul Krekorian, who was faced with the opportunity to represent an area 100% new to him.
Martinez’s proposal does not explain what would happen to the neighborhoods immediately south of the valley, on the east side, or in the central part of the city. A spokeswoman said the city’s policy analysts are reviewing options in these areas.
The Redistricting Commission last month declined to take up the job card that would push Councilor Nithya Raman’s district deep into the west side, extending it from Silver Lake to the Pico-Robertson, Cheviot Hills and Palms neighborhoods.
The flood of map-making proposals sets the stage for a major debate among councilors about who will represent particular neighborhoods, business districts and assets. In order to increase the stakes even further, this debate takes place on the eve of a city election campaign in which eight council seats are to be allocated.
The Redistricting Commission presented its map to the council last week recommending major changes to the districts represented by Raman, Krekorian and Alderman Bob Blumenfield. The commission’s proposal, if approved, would move either Raman or Krekorian to the new West Valley district – an idea that enraged supporters of both councilors.
Krekorian and Raman have repeatedly argued that the Commission’s proposal would deprive voters who voted for them in last year’s election. Both council members barbecued the commission’s chairman, Fred Ali, on Tuesday, saying the commission made important decisions in secret and confused voters by not numbering their districts.
“It was an incredibly confusing, frustrating and sad process for people who felt deeply, deeply involved in this city,” said Raman.
Ali denied the characterizations of Raman and Krekorian, saying the commission’s decisions received public votes. And he defended the proposed map by saying it would preserve black and Latin American political votes, place Koreatown into a single district, and establish 5.7 districts within the valley, among other things.
“No card is perfect, and we don’t claim that it is perfect,” he once said. “But it achieves important goals that are advocated [by] the public.”
By the time the session ended on Tuesday, Raman had written nine proposals to amend the commission’s map, many of which were aimed at preserving parts of their Hollywood Hills district. Krekorian designed several more.
While some councilors worked to rebuild their districts, others took steps to claim economic assets.
Alderman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents part of South Los Angeles, made a proposal to move USC out of Alderman Curren Price’s district into his own. Price, in turn, filed a motion to prevent the Exposition Park adjacent to USC from being relocated to the Harris-Dawson neighborhood.
The 38 redistribution proposals will be taken up on Friday by the council’s new ad hoc redistribution committee, composed of seven members: Martinez, Raman, Blumenfield, Price and councilors Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz and Kevin de León.
Of these seven members, four had been appointed by the Redistribution Commission and voted against the proposed card.