LOCAL GOVERNMENT-Above is a map of Los Angeles County with the dates of the Los Angeles County Redistricting Committee meetings by area.
Where were the residents and other stakeholders? I attended two meetings this week on Redistricting, and since we are unable to see the participants via ZOOM (their names or part of their phone numbers show up on the top of the ZOOM screen from my view) only when they speak, it is impossible for the public to know who was logged on by computer or by phone. This article is not meant to be written in the manner of a professional reporter, but rather from a participant’s point of view.In the first meeting that I attended with the Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission on Monday night, I believe I only heard about three public speakers which includes my comments.
At the second meeting I attended with the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, I believe I only heard about 15 public speakers. It is not clear how many public speakers are present because, to the best of my understanding, some callers may use more than one name or more than one method of entering the ZOOM meeting.
The Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission Meeting – Monday, June 26, 2021
On Monday, June 26, 2021, there were two meetings on the same night – the Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission, and the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission. I chose to attend the Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission meeting Monday night which was for Area “I” on the map – shown above in purple. That meeting started at about 7:02 pm via ZOOM, and they adjourned by 8:02 p.m. I believe that there were only about three public comments at that Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting meeting?
During that meeting, Commissioners and staff gave a presentation on an overview of Redistricting, and the 5 Principles: 1) each of the five Supervisorial districts must be of equal population; 2) each District must comply with the requirements of the Federal Voting Act; 3) the districts should be geographically contiguous; 4) there must be both the geographic integrity of cities and include local communities of interest; and 5) the areas should be geographically compact.
They also stated that the districts must not only be reasonably balanced with about two million people in each District, but that different racial and ethnic groups should be given appropriate representation.
Panelists showed a slide presentation on how to create districts. In addition to the above criteria, they explained that not only should they preserve the geographic integrity of cities, neighborhoods, and communities of interest, but also consider issues such as services. For example,
- Where are these communities served by medical facilities?
- Where are the fire departments?
- What is the traffic structure – what freeways are in the area?
- How are they impacted by crime?
- What is the impact of pollution on a particular community?
- What are the economic interests of a particular community?
- To try to keep one District as compact and as oval in shape as possible.
At this County Redistricting meeting, there were only a handful of members of the public speaking. It is impossible to know how many people were listening who did not participate in the discussion. Since this meeting was geared to Area “I”, there was someone who mentioned that Long Beach is the second largest city in Los Angeles County in terms of population, and that they would like it to remain whole.
Since we do not actually see the members of the public or what they are contributing, I believe it was the Mayor of Lynwood that spoke about being put into a different District. He talked about the common areas, the burden of the 710 freeway; that they fight for each other; that the area that is most common with them is not in the same Supervisorial District.
Someone from North Pomona spoke about how the impact of the LA County Fairgrounds impacts certain communities. That District 1 is not compact. Reference was made to how this impacted a community called “Mountain Meadows” that was locked out of the discussion regarding the Fairplex’s impact on the community because it was not in the same Supervisorial District. He referenced that District 5 was a very conservative District, and that it needed to be more equal in regard to liberals to conservatives.
Other than my own comments, I believe that these three speakers were all that gave input at this meeting. The meeting ended early.
Who is supposed to be doing outreach to the community regarding Redistricting?
I have seen reference to Redistricting come from my Councilmember (John Lee because I am set up to receive his newsletters. His letter to his District referenced the LA City Council Redistricting Commission meeting that was held on July 1 geared to Council District 12. That email went out on July 25, 2021. But how many people in his District receive those emails, and how many have time to read them all if they do get them?
I also receive emails from my County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Her email to those who are signed up for them referenced the dates of the Redistricting meetings in her July 3, 2021, letter.
What other outreach is occurring regarding Redistricting? I feel like our City and our County are so focused on the extremely important issues like COVID-19, homelessness, job losses, whether to wear a mask, businesses reopening, that the Redistricting process is going on in the dark. But Redistricting in an equitable manner is critical to drawing the appropriate lines at all levels of government to protect and to provide services for all residents and stakeholders of every community.
Information related to Redistricting Los Angeles County can be found here:
“Next Citizens Redistricting Commission regular meeting will be on July 14, 2021, at 6:30 PM (PST) followed by the public hearing for communities of interest input (Zone E) at 7:00 PM (PST).”
The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission
I attended the meeting of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission on July 1, 2021. This was, as previously referenced, scheduled for residents and stakeholders of Council District 12 (CD12). At that meeting, Commissioner David Hyan, who was appointed by Councilmember John Lee, spoke about what makes a community unique; what does a community share in common; and what are the common interests and needs.
This Redistricting Commissioner spoke about applicable laws and that they must wait for the Census data which is expected in August. They need to draw the lines in a way that will strengthen the City of Los Angeles (LA). There needs to be equity, integrity, respect; the process needs to be data driven.
The Executive Director, Frank Cardenas, spoke about the Redistricting process every ten years. He referenced again that the districts need to be drawn equally and fairly; the districts need to be drawn in a manner that the residents can vote in a fair manner. He referenced how responsive Council Districts should be to their constituents. Other topics included the need to draw districts fairly in terms of race, color, language abilities, and minority status. He talked about issues that are faced today including affordable housing, the need for cleaner streets, and better parks.
Another panelist spoke about equal population, connecting communities of interest, and compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Council District 12 has 10 Neighborhood Councils in its district:
Chatsworth Neighborhood Council - 1st Wednesday @6:30PM
Granada Hills North Neighborhood Council - 1st Tuesday @6:30PM
Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council - 1st Thursday @6:30PM
North Hills West Neighborhood Council - 3rd Thursday @7PM
Northridge East Neighborhood Council - 3rd Wednesday @7PM
Northridge South Neighborhood Council - 4th Thursday @7PM
Northridge West Neighborhood Council - 2nd Tuesday @6:15PM
Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council - 2nd Wednesday @6:15PM
Reseda Neighborhood Council - 3rd Monday @7PM
West Hills Neighborhood Council - 1st Thursday @7PM
It appears that two of these Neighborhood Councils (NCs) had Board meetings that night. It would be understandable therefore if those two NCs did not have anyone who spoke that evening. But this is a Council District that is supposed to represent roughly 284,000 people according to the 2017 Census data on the Control Panel for Population by District by City Controller Ron Galperin:
In fact, based on a graphic on this website, Council District 12 has slightly more people at roughly 7% of the City of Los Angeles than other Districts which have only 6% of the population.
I was therefore quite surprised that while we were told at one point that there were about 59 attendees, some had difficulty in commenting. I counted roughly 15 public participants. Public comment started about 6:26 pm, and the meeting was adjourned about 7:23 p.m.
How is this low stakeholder turnout going to impact the Redistricting of our City of Los Angeles?
The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission website can be found here.
The public hearing schedule can be found here.
Public Hearing Schedule:
- Thursday, July 1 (6pm)
CD12 – John Lee
- Wednesday, July 7 (6pm)
CD5 – Paul Koretz :
- Monday, July 12 (6pm)
CD11 – Mike Bonin
- Thursday, July 15 (6pm)
CD3 – Bob Blumenfield
- Wednesday, July 21 (6pm)
CD2 – Paul Krekorian
- Thursday, July 29 (6pm)
CD13 – Mitch O’Farrell
- Saturday, July 31 (10am)
CD6 – Nury Martinez
- Wednesday, August 4 (6pm)
CD4 – Nithya Raman
- Wednesday, August 11 (6pm)
CD7 – Monica Rodriguez
Commissioner – Elizabeth Saldivar
- Saturday, August 14 (10am)
CD1 – Gil Cedillo
- Wednesday, August 18 (6pm)
CD15 – Joe Buscaino
- Saturday, August 21 (10am)
CD14 – Kevin de Leon
- Wednesday, August 25 (6pm)
Regional Public Hearing – Spanish
- Saturday, August 28 (10am)
CD10 – Mark Ridley Thomas
- Tuesday, August 31 (6pm)
Regional Public Hearing – SFV
- Wednesday, September 8 (6pm)
Regional Public Hearing – Eastside, Central, Westside
- Saturday, September 11 (10am)
CD9 – Curren Price
- Saturday, September 18 (10am)
CD 8 – Marqueece Harris Dawson
- Saturday, September 25 (10am)
Regional Public Hearing – South LA, Watts, Harbor”
Redistricting Los Angeles County from my point of view
Above is the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors map with cities and Supervisorial District boundaries.
As a 45-year resident of the San Fernando Valley, I would like to see a San Fernando Valley District that is not gerrymandered between two Supervisor Districts. When the last 5th District race was held, I attended a meeting of the candidates that was televised. It was sponsored by the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters.
After that meeting, I spoke to numerous candidates for that race. One candidate was the current 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Another candidate was my former Councilmember, Mitch Englander. There were numerous other candidates, and as I spoke to them, I got the impression that some of them were not even aware that parts of West Hills were in the 5th District.
After that candidate forum, I contacted a member of former Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s staff as well as Dean Logan from the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s office. I pointed to the maps, and the fact at the time, that West Hills was shown exclusively in Supervisorial District 3 – Kuehl’s district.
After that discussion, this map showing West Hills in the 5th District was created.
The 5th Supervisorial District – Michael D. Antonovich – Fifth District map showing West Hills.
The above map shows the 5th District (in turquoise) relative to geological and geographical boundaries from the Los Angeles County GIS – NET mapping system for Planning and Zoning Information.
West Hills would be on the lower left side in the San Fernando Valley while the rest of the district moves north into the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys. What does West Hills have in common with the rest of the 5th District that goes all the way to Kern County and to the San Bernadino County line?
Above is the 3rd Supervisorial District map from Supervisor Kuehl’s website.
Above is the 3rd District which is outlined in turquoise. It is from the same GIS – NET map software as the 5th District shown two figures above.
But by clicking on this map, you will see that the 5th District is drawn (in my opinion, gerrymandered). It starts at Bell Canyon Road to the West of Valley Circle Blvd. It follows Valley Circle Blvd to Ingomar where it drops back down to Saticoy. It goes north on Shoup Avenue. Then it goes east on Roscoe Blvd. to Canoga Avenue. All of these changes are within the communities of West Hills until the lines hit Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Roscoe Boulevard where the lines enter Canoga Park. The line goes north on Canoga Avenue, then right on Nordhoff Street where it appears to go north along the Orange line. Then it again turns south along the Metrolink path to Tampa Avenue where it goes north to Lassen Street. At Lassen it goes east to another “gerrymandered – why” line to the north. It may be following the Bull Creek Channel?
My point is that this part of the West San Fernando Valley has nothing in common with the northern portion of the 5th District. You can draw lines that show communities that are contiguous – such as West Hills and Canoga Park, but there is nothing “Compact” about the communities within the San Fernando Valley and the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys. And they certainly are not “Communities of Interest.”
What is the San Fernando Valley?
San Fernando Valley Census Boundaries from the website of Congressmember Brad Sherman:
“Dec 10, 2018
Valley Population up 6% from 2010; Valley Residents Make More Than Most Americans, and Spend it on Housing
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Census Bureau issued a San Fernando Valley Report at the request of Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks).
The more than 1.86 million people who live in the Valley exceed the populations of all but the four largest cities in the United States—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. According to the latest census data, the Valley's population has increased 106,000 (6%) since 2010.”
“The typical Valley family income is $64,059, 11% higher than the country as a whole. However, nearly 2/5 of Valley homeowners spend over 35% of their income on housing, while nationwide just over 1/5 of American homeowners spend that much. And over half of Valley renters spend over 35% of their income on housing.
While the Valley has a higher percentage of college graduates than America as a whole (34% to 31%), it also has more people without a high school diploma (19% for Valley, 13% for U.S.). This correlates with the Valley having a higher median income than America (by 11%) but also a somewhat higher percentage of families living in poverty (11.5% vs 10.5%).”
“The boundaries used for the San Fernando Valley by the Census Bureau stretch from Calabasas to Glendale.”
Map of Regions 1 – 4 – Neighborhood Council map from EMPOWERLA.
A future San Fernando Valley map?
At the June 2021 meeting of the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC), Congressmember Brad Sherman was the Honored Guest Speaker.
He mentioned “Redistricting” but not in any specific reference – not related to his Congressional District or any other specific district. I made a comment to him at that meeting (which is recorded and on the website for the Neighborhood Council Alliances). I mentioned that I had attended a meeting the previous night of the Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission. I mentioned that I said that there should be a “San Fernando Valley Supervisorial District.” His comment was that he agreed, and that “VICA” – the Valley Industry Commerce Association had the same idea.
My question to all readers is as follows:
If the map as referenced above by Congressmember Sherman is the San Fernando Valley per the U.S. Census Bureau, do you all support being in one contiguous Supervisorial District as is shown as the “San Fernando Valley map?”
To me, this District would be “Contiguous, Compact, and Communities of Interest” based on the Census and on the Neighborhood Council 4 Region maps above.
Other maps to consider:
The State of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has numerous maps that can be used to show various layers including Pollution Burden Indicators, Population Characteristics Indicators, Overall Results, and most recently, a new map based on Racial and Ethnic Census Tract data.
OEHHA is updating its CalEnviroScreen tool to 4.0 Beta
This link will take you to several maps including the one for Pollution Burden Indicators, Population Characteristics Indicators, Overall Results.
The CalEnviroScreen 4.0 map shows (click here) the census tracts in the viewing area that have some of the highest Pollution Burden Scores in the State of California – here in our San Fernando Valley.
Using the same link as above, but clicking on the Population Characteristics tab, you will see that the San Fernando Valley has some of the highest census tracts in the State of California in terms of Population Characteristics which include Education, Housing Burden, Linguistic Isolation, Poverty, and Unemployment.
The above CalEnviroScreen 4.0 map shows that the Overall Results with the areas that appear in the darkest green colors having the least overall combined scores for Pollution Burden and Population Characteristics and the census tracts in red being the highest overall for the combination of these characteristics.
CalEnviroScreen and Race / Ethnicity: Here is the link to this new tool with its explanation of Race and Ethnicity by Census Tract.
The click on this map to see, according to the CalEnviroScreen Race Ethnicity legend, which census tracts are primarily Latino – Pink; White – Blue; Asian – Green; Black – Gold; American Indian / Alaskan Native – Orange. According to the legend below, the scores in the “turquoise green” color are the top 10 percent for the highest number of one Race / Ethnic group in the State.
In addition to political affiliation which must be considered in drawing all lines (lines must avoid being drawn along those of a particular political party), each of the above characteristics must be considered when drawing lines for any governmental boundaries. I hope that our Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commissioners and our Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commissioners will use all of these tools and consider a future San Fernando Valley Supervisorial District.
(Chris Rowe a 43-year resident of West Hills, CA, is a Public Health and Environmental Health Advocate. She was employed at Northridge Hospital, Tarzana Medical Center, and West Hills Hospital while in pursuit of her college degrees. She has a B.S. in Health Education from CSUN. Chris is a former member of the West Hills Neighborhood Council and served on committees of the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council. She writes a blog on the USC / Annenberg School of Health Journalism site. She has written for the Daily News, OURLA.ORG, RonKayeLA.org, and for CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.