Fate, where a cluster of cities in southeast Los Angeles could end up, could determine voting power in a traditionally African-American regulatory district as well as in the nearby communities of South Bay and East LA, as a district’s citizens’ commission sets the final boundaries for the districts Constituencies. The panel is also looking into aligning the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys as the deadline for all of this one-off work is fast approaching.
With the December 15 deadline approaching for a final statewide map, the 14-member Citizen Redistribution Commission has narrowed its options to two base maps and a series of revisions. One of these maps will define the political representation for areas from Pomona to South Bay and from the San Fernando Valley to South Gate for the next decade.
“Time is of the essence,” said Commissioner Jean Franklin last week when the group decided on two base maps. “Dec 15 is only a few moments away. “
One of those cards appeared to dilute the Afro-American electorate in District 2 of Supervisor Holly Mitchell, while another version appeared to bolster the electorate of Latinos in Janice Hahn’s District 4 to one that included the Latino communities in District 1 of Supervisor Hilda Solis much of the San Gabriel Valley, would consolidate.
The commission has already broken into ad hoc committees to review each of the candidates, hoping to incorporate changes based on concerns from communities in southeast and east LA and the San Fernando Valley to Pomona to South Bay.
Basic draft card B-1
In a region where recent census figures show the Latino population continues to grow, both maps form a second Latino-majority oversight district. That means both districts have a better chance of choosing a Latino leader.
The Difference in the Maps: Where the Latin American cities in southeast LA will land.
Under the B-1 base map, areas such as Vernon, Maywood, Huntington Park, Downey, Lynwood, South Gate, and Cudahy would be part of the historically African-American district of District 2, joining Inglewood, Lennox, and a bevy of parishes that embrace the 110th Freeway from Wilshire Boulevard at its north end to 105 Freeway in the south.
But on the F basemap, these communities would be in southeast LA in District 4, where they would join the neighboring towns of Bellflower, Norwalk, and Artesia, and the coastal communities of Long Beach and San Pedro.
The difference could be politically significant, experts say.
“If you look at Plan B and compare it to Plan F, Plan F for African Americans is 2nd on the process.
In fact, F appears to be taking over the historic political power that African Americans have built over the decades, electing leaders like Mark Ridley-Thomas and Holly Mitchell to its board of directors. The same general area – made up of parishes like Inglewood, Exposition Park, and Lennox – has elected black leaders at the state and congressional levels for years.
But Plan B, by consolidating South LA parishes with historically black parishes, would make District 2 a Latino-majority electoral district that could dilute the power of black voters, experts say.
Conversely, the base map version of F would move Latino voting rights to District 4 – currently Supervisor Janice Hahn’s district – by moving the same southeast LA parishes there. This would make District 4, next to District 1 of Hilda Solis, the second largest Latino district in the county.
That could have an impact on Hahn’s future. Your district already includes Downey and Bellflower. But adding communities like Vernon and Maywood – while also losing areas like Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, and Torrance – could pose more of a challenge to the incumbent.
According to observers, this is compounded by the gradual demographic change in the communities over time. The Latino population is growing in areas like District 2, and at the same time many African Americans are leaving the area, which is often too expensive, experts say.
But card configurations can change quickly from meeting to meeting.
With these concerns in mind, conference attendees spent the holiday week proposing changes to the base maps with the aim of bringing them up for public discussion and further revision before the final map closes on December 15th. In both cases, commissioners appeared unwilling to divide communities linked by similar cultural and political ties or by key business centers and institutions such as LAX and the boundaries of large school districts.
- See proposed reallocation of LA Counties B-1 and F base maps
- See base map revisions here, here, here, and here
- The Commission’s justification for the changes to the B-1 base map can be found here
- See the Commission’s rationale for changes to base map F here and here
A revision of the F base map would expand Mitchell’s District 2 into South Bay and beachfront communities, adding Playa Vista, Venice, Marina del Rey, Westchester, El Segundo, and Torrance to the district.
The reason: The expansion of the district could preserve the historical interest groups of blacks in District 2. Observers say the configuration could work because the population is not large enough to significantly reduce the historically robust voting power of African Americans in this district.
Henry Fung, the author of the F Base Map, said the revisions to the plan – also known as Map 66 – made its original outlines stronger.
“I really like your Map 66,” he said. “At 66, I think they made it 95% of the time.”
It seeks to address concerns that African American residents may lose ground in areas where they have built power in the past. And it better deals with concerns about divided cities and unincorporated areas like the San Fernando Valley, where advocates have pushed for greater board representation due to the sheer size of the voting population, he said.
Stuart Waldman, President of the Valley Industry Commerce Association (VICA), had long advocated that the entire Valley should be in one regulatory district. But knowing this was unlikely, he said the best compromise revision would keep the area “mostly whole” but still give its constituents the best chance of electing a representative loyal to the Valley.
A change to F would combine B-1 and F to create two Latino seats, and would keep Long Beach, the San Gabriel Valley, and District 1 of Hilda Solis intact, while keeping the San Fernando Valley mostly complete. Waldman said he liked the proposed revision best, citing its fairness to the county’s interest groups.
A proposed change, however, would keep the communities in the northeast of the San Fernando Valley to District 5 – currently the district of Supervisor Kathryn Barger – and the subdivision of Canoga Park, Northridge, Reseda, Tarzana to District 3, with communities in the foothills San Gabriel Valley of District 5.
Fung said the revision also responds to the desire of the Armenian-American community to connect North Hollywood with their eastern interest groups in Burbank and Glendale.
The next meeting of the commission is on Monday, when the ad hoc committees optimizing the base maps will come back with their results.
Experts say it will be interesting to see how communities that had communities in southeast LA requested to stay in District 1 of Hilda Solis in the San Gabriel Valley might see the revisions.
Many supporters had flooded public input periods in commission meetings in the past few weeks.
Some East LA churches are non-incorporated and culturally and historically linked. Not wanting to be divided, many are concerned about the potential for new relationships and resource battles with new supervisors and elected officials.
Commissioners have admitted that their work will not satisfy everyone.
Your efforts are governed by the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, but must also avoid gerrymandering. At the same time, they have to ensure that each of the five administrative districts of the district is blanched with around 2 million people each.
In addition, this year, for the first time in the history of the district, the task of redrawing the political boundaries of the district is in the hands of a redistribution commission for citizens. Before that year, it was the overseers who drew the boundaries between their districts every decade, a process marked by political unification and self-preservation.
But in 2016, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 958, which aimed to bring the county’s redistribution processes in line with the state-wide system introduced by the electorate through Proposition 11 in 2008.
In addition to local cities redistributing their own city councils, a statewide commission also draws maps for the seats of the California states and Congress. But not all have independent citizens’ commissions.
“I was surprised and impressed that the previous line managers stayed away from this process,” said Fung.
A list of meetings and agendas can be found at this link: https://redistricting.lacounty.gov/virtual-meetings/.