The boundaries of individual city council districts will likely be changing in the next few months under the redistricting process now underway in Los Angeles, and while the 5th District may get a little smaller, the 4th and 13th District will probably be expanded.
The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission has held the first round of meetings to inform the public about redistricting, and is now collecting public comment and preparing the first draft maps of the potential new districts. Redistricting occurs every 10 years, and is based on U.S. Census population data for each council district. The goal of redistricting is to ensure an equal number of residents are represented in each district. The City of Los Angeles has an approximate population of 3.75
million, which means each district should have approximately 250,000 residents, according to Jackie Dupont-Walker, one of the vice chairs for the redistricting commission.
“The basic principle of democracy is one’s ability to have an equal opportunity to participate in government, and that doesn’t happen if your vote doesn’t count as much as the next person’s,” Dupont-Walker said. “Redistricting occurs to create equal jurisdictions. The city charter put in place the process of having a redistricting advisory commission, and the city council approves the final maps.”
The 21-member commission is comprised of 14 members appointed by the individual city council members, three by the mayor of Los Angeles, two by the city council president, and one each by the city controller and the city attorney. The commission has been meeting since last fall to consider the census and socioeconomic data, and will hold additional meetings in each council district after the draft maps are released on Jan. 25. The commission is required to have the final maps drawn by March 1, after which they will be submitted to the city council for consideration. The council has until July 1 to approve the maps. Dupont-Walker said the first citywide election affected by the new maps would be in 2013.
In the local area, the population of the 4th and 13th Council Districts decreased between 2000 and 2010, while the population of the 5th District increased by 6.3 percent. Dupont-Walker said there are a variety of factors that contribute to the increases or decreases, including new development, gentrification and shifting demographics. The boundaries of districts with a decrease in population will likely be expanded to bring their population as close to 250,000 as possible, while districts that experienced an increase in population may be decreased.
The population of the 4th Council District, which is represented by Councilmember Tom LaBonge and includes Hancock Park and the Miracle Mile, as well as portions of Hollywood, Griffith Park and North Hollywood, decreased by 2.7 percent, according to figures provided by the redistricting commission. In the 13th District, which is represented by Councilmember Eric Garcetti and includes Hollywood, Silverlake, Echo Park and Glassell Park, the population decreased by 10.4 percent.
Julie Wong, a deputy to Garcetti, said the councilmember has not made any official statements about the redistricting process because it is in the early stages, but she added that he is monitoring the situation and is encouraging as many people as possible to get involved by submitting comments to the commission via its website, and by attending upcoming public meetings.
Koretz said the changes to boundaries of the 5th District will likely occur in the portions of the San Fernando Valley he represents, including Studio City and Sherman Oaks. Much of the preliminary input he has received has focused on the possibility that some of those areas may be shifted to the 2nd Council District, which is primarily located in the Valley and is represented by Councilmember Paul Krikorian. Koretz said he does not foresee major changes to the portions of the 5th District in the local area, where it extends east to Highland Avenue between Santa Monica and Beverly Boulevards, but there has been some population growth in the Orthodox Jewish community, which will be taken into account by the commission.
“We are in the early stages, so right now, we don’t know exactly what will happen,” Koretz added. “I’d like to keep a good portion of my district as it is, but I am keeping an open mind.”
LaBonge added that he is not concerned about the boundaries of the 4th District changing dramatically, but said he is adamant about keeping landmarks such as the Miracle Mile, Hancock Park and Griffith Park.
“During my thirty-seven-and-a-half years of public service, there has been a lot of transformation of services,” LaBonge said. “When I started, south Vermont Avenue was primarily African American, but now it is mostly Korean or Hispanic. As the neighborhoods transform, it is important to take a new look at the districts and provide the public an opportunity to be a part of this. I very much like the area I represent, especially the Miracle Mile, Farmers Market and Pan Pacific Park areas.”
At a public meeting for the 4th Council District held on Jan. 4 at the Friendship Auditorium near Griffith Park, numerous public speakers voiced concerns about keeping the district intact. Some members of the Koreatown community, however, expressed the desire to place that neighborhood within one district. Currently, portions of Koreatown are represented by the 4th, 13th, 1st and 10th Council Districts.
Dupont-Walker encouraged residents to visit the redistricting website at www.redistricting2011.lacity.org to submit comments, and to get a schedule of upcoming meetings. This Saturday, members of the commission will tour the city to get a firsthand observation of the districts. On Jan. 17 and 18, residents can also draw their own map boundaries by visiting the website, and those boundaries will also be considered by the commission. She added that once the proposed boundaries are submitted to the city council, there will be an additional round of hearings held to gather more public input.
“We will continue to do a lot of community outreach,” Dupont-Walker said. “We have received a good response, but there are plenty of opportunities left to get involved.”
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