State Redistricting Has Local Political Players Contemplating Possible Change
• Maps Show Draft Lines for State Legislature and Congress
BY BILL KOENEKER
The California Redistricting Commission released its first draft of the Assembly, Senate, and Congressional district lines last week.
The maps are online at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.
There has been endless speculation in the press and city and state political circles about whether the redistricting favors Democrats, Republicans or any of the incumbents.
Outgoing Assemblymember Julia Brownley has endorsed prominent gay rights activist Torie Osborn for her seat in the state 41st Assembly District in the 2012 race. Mayor Richard Bloom of Santa Monica has also announced his candidacy.
The state's voters created a Citizens Redistricting Commission in order to be able to elect more accountable legislative and Congressional representatives. The commission prepared the draft maps "without regard to current districts, incumbents candidates or political parties."
The commission used what it described as a "transparent process, adhering to a rank-ordered set of criteria that is designed to produce sensible and fair districts."
The commission had asked the public to join it and has held 23 input hearings throughout the state, receiving testimony from 1533 residents.
The first preliminary district maps, according to the commission, "are drawn without regard to political incumbents and partisan considerations…districts reflect geographic and common sense boundaries [and] the districts balance the needs of different communities of interest in California."
In contrast to previous redistricting, the commission is releasing the draft maps before its Aug. 15 deadline, which gives the public the time to work with the commission to develop final maps, according to the press release.
That is why the commission indicates it has begun another round of public input hearings this month and offers the public to write, email, fax or mail comments to the panel.
Another free online tool, besides the commission's online maps is called ReDrawCA.org.
They will post the proposed lines on its interactive mapping platform that will allow viewers to see the detailed boundaries as well as the underlying data for each district.
ReDraw's website is also offering a free embeddable widget that allows users to type in their address or ZIP code and see both what district they are in now and their proposed new district.
The Los Angeles Times has set up its own online service that allows users to also type in their address or ZIP code and see both what district they are in now and their proposed new district.
The ReDraw program will also upload the draft district plans on wiki-maps which allow users to make comments directly on the boundaries and color-code their comments whether they like, dislike or are neutral on a specific portion of the plans.
The commission is now calling upon the public to comment upon their proposals and to make the case for why a specific district should or should not be altered.
The reDraw website is described as the place for individuals and groups to use the data to understand how redistricting will effect their community and to prepare comment and testimony to the commission.
The reDraw press release describes the website as having the ability to "bridge the gap between concerned citizens and decision makers," by providing an interactive tool for community groups to engage in the redistricting process.
Every 10 years, California redraws the lines of the political landscape through the redistricting process.
"Altering political boundaries through gerrymandering, packing, and dividing neighborhoods can disenfranchise entire communities and their interests," the ReDraw press release states.
"However, most citizens have little to no knowledge of the redistricting process, let alone information about how they can influence redistricting decisions. ReDrawCA.org allows community groups to engage decision makers about their story of their community its boundaries, its needs and what makes it unique.