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No, Koreatown Won't Be Split Up By Little Bangladesh. Here's What Tuesday's Vote Is Actually About

A vote happening Tuesday, June 19, 2018 could create a new neighborhood council in Los Angeles' Koreatown district. (Photo by Vincent Lammin via Flickr)
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Earlier this month, a flier shared on Reddit made some waves in Los Angeles.

The resulting discussion thread has grown to nearly 250 comments, which range from extremely confused to really angry.

The leaflet in question is jarring. It urges readers that the community members "need YOUR vote TO KEEP KOREATOWN!" and suggests that the neighborhood's borders are in danger of being repurposed to make way for "Bangladesh Town."

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But that's not true. The election in question is not to redraw Koreatown's physical borders. It's to decide whether or not to create a new neighborhood council in the area.

Los Angeles has more than 95 neighborhood councils already, but this election specifically focuses on splitting the existing Wilshire-Center Koreatown neighborhood council into two.

"Proponents for this new subdivision would like to create the Wilshire-Center Bangladesh neighborhood council within the existing council boundaries," said Chris Garcia, a city project manager in charge of L.A.'s neighborhood council elections.

The existing neighborhood council encompasses a central part of Koreatown and consists of council districts 10 and 13. But Koreatown as a whole is much larger and goes beyond the neighborhood council's borders.

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The split would favor Little Bangladesh in terms of council jurisdiction area, according to their proposed boundary map. It would start north at Melrose Avenue and run south to 5th Street between Western and Vermont avenues.

The Little Bangladesh community's effort has been met with heavy resistance in Koreatown, just the latest spat in long-simmering tension between the two neighborhoods.

An official statement from the Korean American Coalition of Los Angeles accused the formation committee of failing to reach out to Korean and Latino residents and business owners, adding that the proposal "sidesteps any effort to honor and build community together."

After misinformation about the subdivision election began to spread, the office of the L.A. City Clerk's office sent out a FAQ in an effort to clear things up. One of the points highlighted in the release was why create another neighborhood council.

"The proponents have stated that, for an area that has approximately 100,000 residents, additional representation is needed," the FAQ states, adding that those in favor of a new council feel the current 26 board seats within the existing Koreatown-area council "are not enough to fully represent the area."

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In-person voting begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday at two locations. The polls close at 8 p.m.

  • Harvard Elementary School - Multi-Purpose Room, 330 N. Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004
  • Founders Church of Religious Science - Hornaday Hall, 3281 W. 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020

Think of neighborhood councils like a liaison between the community and elected officials and city departments.
"Each gets about $42,000 a year from the city and they're comprised of elected board members who provide community support, put on events, sponsor local organizations, really advocate on the neighborhood's behalf with the city," said Garcia.

The subdivision would in essence double the amount of representation in the community by creating a newly elected board and a new amount of funding that that board can put to use.

LAist news editor Ryan Fonseca contributed to this story.

Editor's note: A version of this story was also on the radio. Listen to it here on KPCC's Take Two.

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