After the United States Census is conducted, as it was in 2010, the process of redistricting follows to reflect the new population data. New boundaries for the Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly, and State Board of Equalization districts will be redrawn over the next few months.
The state’s redistricting is designed to prevent gerrymandering, where a political party gains an advantage by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts.
Currently, 10 community meetings have been scheduled throughout the county to encourage public participation in the State Board of Equalization redistricting process. The county’s population must be evenly divided into five supervisorial districts for the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. This process is separate from state legislature redistricting, which is currently under consideration by an independent panel.
A community meeting on the county redistricting was held Monday at West Hollywood Park, and was attended by approximately 25 residents. The meeting offered information on the redistricting process and how people can get involved. For the first time, citizens will be able to draw their own boundaries for supervisorial districts online via the Los Angeles County redistricting site at www.redistricting.lacounty.gov.
“I’ve never seen this amount of information pulled together about the county on any website,” said Martin Zimmerman, assistant CEO of the Chief Executive Office. “It’s a treasure trove.”
The board is expected to approve by August any changes to the existing boundaries, based on recommendations from the Boundary Review Committee (BRC), whose members are appointed by the supervisors. The BRC must submit a recommended plan to the board by July 31, and the board must adjust the supervisorial district boundaries before Nov. 1.
According to Zimmerman, the redesigned supervisor districts will look a little different than they do now.
“It’s very likely some changes will occur because the districts have grown,” Zimmerman said. “Now they’re ten percent out of balance in population, which is known as total deviation. By making some changes, moving a city or an unincorporated area, that deviation should come down.”
According to census statistics, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s 3rd District grew by nearly 60,000 people since the 2001 census. The district with the biggest growth belongs to Los Angeles County Mayor Michael Antonovich, 5th District, which saw an approximate 175,000 population increase.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt a redistricting plan in August. Prior to adoption, the board is required to hold at least one public hearing on any proposal to adjust the boundary of a district.
According to Joel Bellman, Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s press deputy, in 1988 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was successfully sued by the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which claimed Latinos were being denied proper representation. The court ruled that the board had gerrymandered some districts. Later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. As a result of the subsequent redistricting, the first Latino individual, Gloria Molina, was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
“If population balance was the only issue, then few changes would be required,” Zimmerman said.
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