By Bill Hendrickson
At a recent public meeting on the upcoming redistricting of Council District 14, most of the 105 commenters voiced the same sentiments: All communities in CD 14 wanted to stay in CD 14 and neighborhoods where representation is split between CD 14 and other council districts wanted to be redistricted into a single council district – and they want that single district to be CD 14.
In Northeast Los Angeles, Highland Park and Glassell Park are in CD 14 and other council districts, including CD 1 and CD 13. If the commenters at the public redistricting meeting have their way, these NELA communities would be entirely in CD 14.
Commenters from downtown L.A. – the crown jewel of CD 14 – also spoke out in favor of uniting all of downtown into CD 14.
The CD 14 redistricting meeting, held on Aug 24, is one of 17 online meetings held citywide as officials prepare to re-draw city council boundaries, an exercise that takes place every 10 years with the release of new census data. Some 355 people participated, about 155 by phone or Zoom and the rest from four community meeting locations that were arranged by CD 14 in Eagle Rock, Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and El Sereno.
The aim of the meetings is to create districts that are roughly equal in population and that group together “communities of interest.” Broadly defined, a community of interest is a neighborhood, community or group of people who have common policy concerns and, as such, would benefit from being placed in a single district. Race and ethnicity can play a role in defining a community of interest but cannot be used as the sole definition, according to the Rules of Redistricting. Other factors that define a community of interest are a shared focus on specific local issues (such as housing, development, transit, environment); a shared ancestry, history or language; or a defining geography (such as valley, beach or hillside).
Communities of interest do not include affiliations with political parties, incumbents or political candidates, though most of the 105 people who spoke up at the CD 14 meeting were united in their shout-outs of appreciation, sometimes literally, for CD 14 Councilmember Kevin de León.
Fred Ali, a nonprofit executive and philanthropy expert who is the chairperson of the 19-member Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission noted that the census likely undercounted the population in CD 14, adding that the commission will keep the undercount in mind as it attempts to create council districts that are roughly equal in population size.
Fifteen commissioners are chosen by city councilmembers, one for each council district; two are appointed by the Office of the Mayor and one each is selected by the City Controller and the City Attorney.
The commissioner for CD 14 is Sonja F. Diaz, a civil rights attorney, policy advisor and the Founding and Executive Director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA. In a recent interview with Univision, Diaz said that the census’ undercount of some communities is still unclear. What is clear, she said, is that the non-Hispanic white population has shrunk in the last decade while population growth has been fueled by Latinos and Asian Americans. This demographic shift “necessitates a redistricting process but also a mobilization process that clearly integrates and rewards those communities in the places that they reside,” she said.
City council districts are not the only areas whose boundaries are redrawn every 10 years. The release of the census data also prompts the redrawing of boundaries on the state level of Congressional, State Assembly, State Senate and State Board of Equalization districts, and on the local level of school districts, including L.A. Unified School District. The public meeting for redistricting of LAUSD Board 5, which includes Northeast Los Angeles, is on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 6:30 p.m. Here are the LAUSD meeting details.
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