PERSPECTIVE SOUTH LA - I want to remind all of you that our city’s redistricting maps will be brought up in the City Council meeting for the final time Wednesday, June 20th. These maps have been made without consideration of our community or our history. The commissioners and most councilmembers have continuously ignored the pleas of people who want their districts to stay pretty much the same.
There are three basic legal rules that need to be followed in redistricting:
1. Equal Population – The Constitution requires districts to have roughly equal population. In LA, the population of a district should be about 250,000 persons.
2. Non-discrimination – Federal law states that racial minorities should not be grouped in ways that limit their political effectiveness. Race cannot be the main reason for drawing district lines, but the lines also cannot prevent these groups from exercising the ability to elect candidates of their choice.
3. Communities of Interest – The Charter demands that the districts reflect public input about communities of interest; districts should reflect those communities of interest where possible.
Problems with the City’s Process:
Districts 8, 9, and 10 are the three current council districts in Los Angeles with African American representatives. At the start of the process, their populations were:
Only CD 10 is below the idea population size (about 5% below the ideal size, or about 12,000 people).
There is no need for major shifts in this portion of the district map. For example, CD 10 could satisfy its population deficit by shifting just about 7,000-10,000 people into its district lines. However, the City’s approved map (voted out on March 16th) moves more than 40,000 new people into the district – many of them from CD 8.
There is also great misunderstanding about how the city’s proposed new map will affect the black community in Los Angeles. As mentioned earlier, there are three existing districts that have elected members who are African American – CD 8 (Bernard Parks), CD 9 (Jan Perry), and CD 10 (Herb Wesson). The current black citizen voting age percentages in each of these districts follow:
Before proposed redistricting maps
After proposed redistricting maps
All three of these districts have elected black candidates quite consistently over the last few decades, but they have done so using different racial population alignments. CD 8 is the city’s ONLY majority district that is African American.
CD’s 9 and 10 have been effective as RACIAL COALITION districts (with black cooperating with other similarly sized groups to elect mutually agreeable candidates).
The candidates from CD’s 9 and 10 succeed by establishing relationships among different racial/ethnic groups for electoral support.
CD 9 currently represents 75% of 39,000 total persons currently living in downtown. CD 14 (Huizar) represents 25% of these persons – his district is anchored in East LA and northeast LA.
The only testimony that favored shifting all of downtown to CD 14 came from people ALREADY LIVING in CD 14 – only 25 % of the population.
The bulk of downtown expressed satisfaction with their place in CD 9. Citizens in Little Tokyo (currently in CD 9) stated unanimously that they had long historical ties to South Los Angeles. Further, they stated that they had been quite happy with the level of representation they received from CD 9.
Shop owners from the garment district explained that the commercial connections in LA were north-south (following CD 9’s current lines) as opposed to east-west (which reflected the commission’s proposed drawing).
The Commission and Council were presented with a map that shows that CD 14’s population needs can be satisfied by growing in the northeast neighborhoods like Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, and Highland Park.
The city drew CD 14 and CD 1 with SMALLER Latino majorities in order to move downtown out of CD 9.
The city has transformed CD 9 from an effective racial coalition district (with Asian, black and Latino voters working together) into a Latino majority district. The result is a district with fewer opportunities of effective alliances and substantially fewer commercial assets.
CD 8 (Council Member Parks) is the city’s only majority black district (based on citizen voting age population). Its black population is currently 60%, and is only slightly over the ideal population.
Importantly, the African American population in CD 8 is less than a majority of ALL persons in the district (citizens and non-citizens). Latinos outnumber African Americans, but their share of the citizen population is currently smaller.
CD 10 takes approximately 16,000 people (more than twice what is needed) from CD 8, leaving CD 8 significantly BELOW the ideal population (about 2.5%).
CD 10 also REMOVES more than a majority of its existing white voter population from the district.
The neighborhoods that are taken out of CD 8 are concentrated with higher-income African American neighborhoods and the Crenshaw Mall.
Testimony from this community from CD 8 largely stated satisfaction with the existing configuration and requested only that the Commission make minor alterations to the map.
Despite their starting points, these changes result in making CD 10 OVER POPULATED and CD 8 (the only black majority district) UNDERPOPULATED.
To enact the CD 10 changes, the Commission ignored the unanimous testimony from Koreatown to be kept together as a community and located in CD 13. Instead, CD 10 divides Koreatown.
As a result, CD 10 dismantled its effective coalition district with whites, blacks and Latinos. It captured a divided Asian American community that wished to be kept together. And it targeted black voters from CD 8 to leave that district with a numerically WEAKER black population with fewer economic resources.
The redistricting process is crucial to the future of our community. The process has brought unrest, controversy and confusion, and we need your continued support to make sure these unfair maps do not get passed.
This proposal is now in its third and final phase, before becoming law. It is now up to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to either sign – thus approving – this plan to dismantle South LA or stand up for what is right, and veto it.
Click here to see map of the current CD8.
Click here to see map of post-redistricting CD8.
I need you to attend the Council meeting on Wednesday and stand up for your neighborhood and South LA! We need to show the other 13 councilmembers that South LA is united and determined to fight this injustice.
I will continue to stand with you and stand with my colleague, Councilmember Jan Perry, and fight this grave injustice with every tool at my disposal. If the Mayor approves this plan, we are prepared to file a lawsuit, challenging the legality of the new districts, due to violations of the United States Constitution, the Federal Voting Rights Act, and the City Charter.
(Barnard C. Parks is Councilman for Los Angeles’ 8th District. Contact him at: www.bernardparks.com or twitter@BernardCParks and on Facebook at Facebook.com/CouncilmemberParks)
Tags: Bernard Parks, 8th Council District, 9th Council District, 10th Council District, Herb Wesson, Jan Perry, LA Redistricting, City Council, Los Angeles