BOS Is Slated to Vote on Redistricting Plans
• Approval Requires Four of Five Votes
BY BILL KOENEKER
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve one of three redistricting plans at a second public hearing on Sept. 27, at which the board may vote to adopt one of the plans.
A minimum of four votes is required for adoption.
Board action to adopt a redistricting plan must occur no later than the end of September in order for the corresponding boundary ordinance to be effective by the statutory deadline of Oct. 11, 2011, according to county officials.
On Sept. 6 the proposed redistricting plans, T1, S2, and A3 amended were considered at the first public hearing before the board. Following public testimony, the board closed the first hearing and scheduled the three plans to be considered at a second public hearing on Sept. 27.
Malibu City Council members said this week they will again attend the public hearing to try and convince board members the traditional boundaries that include upland mountain cities should stay aligned, and that the supervisor of the district should be familiar with the Santa Monica Mountains.
"We all spoke at the redistricting meeting. We would be separated from our traditional neighbors. We want to try to prevent that," said Councilmember Lou La Monte. "We will tell them,'We ain't broke, please don't fix us.'"
"There is also an environmental reason," said Councilmember Jefferson Wagner. "With the new supervisor boundary, we get a new supervisor, who does not know the ecology of the Santa Monica Mountains."
Mayor John Sibert said if there is no 4-1 vote, the process calls for a team of three composed of the county attorney, the sheriff and the county assessor to make the decision.
Like the state and federal governments, counties must redraw their district boundaries every ten years to conform to the results of the U.S. Census.
However, there is a difference between the recently completed state and federal redistricting, which were performed by citizen's commissions and the county's redistricting, which is carried out by the board.
Three proposed maps were each submitted by Supervisor Don Knabe, Supervisor Gloria Molina and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
In the words of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Molina's or Ridley-Thomas' plans would "radically redraw the Board of Supervisors' disrict boundaries, leaving communities fragmented and an estimated 3.5 million people suddenly represented by a supervisor for whom they never cast a vote."
Molina, on her website, said both new maps create two Latino-majority districts, while simultaneously ensuring that all other minority groups' voting powers remain protected.
Ridley-Thomas, in a press release, said, "I have maintained from the start of the redistricting process that our top priority as a Board must be to adhere to federal standards, including the Voting Rights Act requirements. These requirements were not created abstractly to promote the political dominance of our interest group at the expense of other groups, but to serve all voters fairly. That the maps submitted by Supervisor Molina and myself result in the creation of Latino-opportunity voting districts is purely a consequence of our commitment to abide by the civil rights laws that undergird our representative democracy and that have made our county better."
Molina added, "Compare them to the map recommended by the Boundary Review Committee. Either [my] or Ridley-Thomas' proposal would best fulfill not just the letter, but the spirit of the Voting Rights Act."
However, Yaroslavsky alleged in his blog, the proposed mapping is "a bald-faced gerrymander that is completely unnecessary."
"The primary objective of redistricting," said Molina, on her website, "is to ensure every district represents the same amount of people. But this goal cannot legally be accomplished by diluting the strength of minority voters. It's a particularly important requirement since L.A. County has an unfortunate, extensive and documented history of voter discrimination—specifically against Latinos."
"Our new maps simply follow the numbers," said Supervisor Molina. "By doing so, our new maps honor both the letter and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act. If approved either new map will ensure that no minority group's voting power is unfairly enhanced or diluted at the expense of another. Our new maps simply follow the law and the legal precedent."
Ridley-Thomas' proposed map, submitted as the "African-American Coalition Map," moves the eastern San Fernando Valley into the first district, connecting it with downtown Los Angeles and unincorporated East Los Angeles. It also designates the I-605 corridor portion of the San Gabriel Valley as the fourth district.
The map also includes a coastal district that runs from Malibu through Long Beach to Cerritos
Molina's proposed map submitted as the "Voting Rights Compliance Map" is similar to the coalition map, leaving the second and fifth supervisory districts largely unchanged. It does propose dramatic changes elsewhere. The third district would stretch from the San Fernando Valley jus west of the I-405 through Eagle Rock and downtown Los Angeles as far sough as Lynwood and include communities to the west of he I-710.
Yaroslvasky said, "Both of the proposed maps create two districts in which Latinos would comprise more than half the voting age citizens, instead of one such district now."
The board had appointed a boundary review committee to study proposed changes to the boundaries. The committee is an advisory body o the board and will be responsible for preparing a detailed and comprehensive report with recommended boundary changes, according to county officials.