Los Angeles City Council members on Tuesday, Nov. 2, lobbed accusations on Tuesday, Nov. 2, that newly drawn political lines recommended for the San Fernando Valley were hatched in “secret” meetings, kicking off a heated reception for the redistricting citizens commission’s map for City Council districts.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian, a vocal critic of the map, fired off a line of questions at the executive director of the City Council Redistricting Commission that later led to him accusing some on the commission of holding a “secret regional committee” meeting that steered the map toward the goal of creating 5.7 districts in the Valley, with only one district that crosses over the Santa Monica Mountains.
“That was a decision made entirely by the whim of the regional committee with no public input in a behind doors secret meeting that had dramatic impacts on the entire rest of the city,” he argued.
“And for the life of me, I don’t understand how that is a process of unprecedented transparency, because one would say, one could argue that in fact, the interests of the Valley are not served by that decision made in the secret group.”
Frank Cardenas, the commission’s executive director, and commission chair Fred Ali maintained that their process was transparent. Both were presenting the map and their final report to the council on Tuesday.
“It came from a process of that all commissioners voted on in full view of the public,” Cardenas said, in response to Krekorian’s response.
Ali called the draft “a product of unprecedented public participation, which involved more Angelenos than ever before.”
He said 15,000 people offered comment during the process, and noted challenges during the process, including the COVID-19 pandemic, census data being delayed by five months and a “historic undercount of certain communities” within that data.
The latest accusations are part of a pitched political battle, in which one side is accusing the other of interfering politically in the process of setting up district boundaries, a process known as redistricting that is typically done every 10 years, after the the U.S. Census results are released, in order to adjust districts so that they are equal in population.
L.A.’s process for redistricting involves setting up an advisory commission, made up of citizens appointed by City Council members themselves. That commission doesn’t have any authority on what map is approved — rather the City Council has the authority to adopt a map.
With the city’s process inherently political, some have come out with calls to reform the process by setting up independent commissions that cut out influence from elected officials.
“What is before us is what we in part created,” Councilman Gil Cedillo remarked toward the end of the meeting. “It’s a product of a body of work of a body for which we created that body, so our laments with it, are laments with the choices that we made.”
Cedillo’s own appointee, former state legislator and now lobbyist Richard Polanco, meanwhile formed part of a block of commissioners who spoke most vocally in favor of the recommended map.
City Council members are expected to discuss potentially significant changes to the map, as soon as this week. On Tuesday, they kicked off the process by introducing 38 motions aimed at looking into a variety of ways the map could be changed.
Council President Nury Martinez also announced her assignments for the ad hoc redistricting committee that will assess the possible changes in more detail, naming herself as chair and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell as vice chair.
The other members are Bob Blumenfield, Kevin de Leon, Paul Koretz, Curren Price and Nithya Raman.
City News Service contributed to this report
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