Commission Proposes New LA City Council District Map, But Council President Nury Martinez Is Already A Critic
An advisory commission tasked with figuring out how to equitably divide Los Angeles into 15 city council districts for the next decade has decided on the map it will send to the council for consideration and approval.
Map “K2.5 Final” was passed by the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission — an advisory group of city hall appointees — by a vote of 15-6 on Thursday night, and is the product of months of public input and often tense late night meetings.
In statements before the vote, many of the commissioners acknowledged that while the map does make some progress, it still has some potentially significant flaws.
City Council President Nury Martinez is already commenting on those flaws.
"As it stands now drastic changes were made to the map that have confused and alienated thousands and threaten to widen the divides between communities," Martinez said in a statement issued Friday morning. "While some areas kept their assets and neighborhoods whole, poverty was concentrated in other communities that have already suffered from disinvestment and neglect for generations."
One example of an improvement from the current map: it manages to place Koreatown in one district (CD10), which was the community’s request after being split among multiple council districts during the last redistricting cycle.
But members of the public and commissioners themselves point to other outstanding issues that could not be resolved.
For one thing, the commission’s proposed map, as it will be presented to the city council, indicates which council district (and therefore, which council member) will represent each of the newly drawn regions, with two notable exceptions:
- A district including parts of the West Valley is labeled as “04-OR-02”
- A district including parts of the East Valley is labeled as “02-OR-04.”
These districts are significantly different from current Council Districts 2 and 4, and the map does not make clear which district would be which.
Councilmember Paul Krekorian (who currently represents CD2) and Councilmember Nithya Raman (currently representing CD4) had previously opposed the map for this reason.
“Either Councilmember Nithya Raman or I will be moved to a new District in the West Valley (4-OR-2), while the other serves in an unwieldy new hybrid District — roughly 60 percent of my current District 2 in the East Valley and roughly 29 percent of Councilmember Raman’s District 4 in Toluca Lake and the Hollywood Hills (2-OR-4),” Krekorian wrote on Facebook last week.
“What is saddest to me is that these maps decimate the voices of new voters in a historic election — one that saw more renters, more young people, and more people of color participate than ever before,” Raman tweeted earlier this month. Raman, a progressive, was first elected last year in a rare defeat of an incumbent councilmember. Her current district includes parts of Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood, the Miracle Mile and Sherman Oaks.
The Response So Far
The commission’s chair, Fred Ali, who was appointed by City Council President Nury Martinez, seemed to respond to these criticisms at a public hearing earlier this month.
“This commission understands that it is advisory to the city council, who will ultimately make final decisions on redistricting,” he said at a hearing on Oct. 6. “We respect their right to ultimately decide and ask that they respect the process that they have asked us to undertake as we proceed with this difficult work.”
The commission was also deeply divided on how to divide South L.A.’s cultural and economic assets — including USC and Exposition Park — between Council District 8 (currently represented by Marqueece Harris-Dawson) and 9 (represented by Curren Price).
Community members from CD8 said that without USC (which was moved to district 9 in the last redistricting cycle), the district is left without a strong economic engine.
“I think you're leaving the future African American community with nothing, or very little. And I'm very distressed,” Valerie Lynne Shaw, the commissioner appointed by Harris-Dawson, said when the issue came up again Tuesday night.
Community members in CD9 argued that residents and businesses there depend on the tourism and revenue brought in by USC and the museums in Exposition Park.
Commissioner Charisse Bremond, who was appointed by the mayor’s office and is the President and CEO of Brotherhood Crusade in South Los Angeles, explained on Tuesday night why the decision is so difficult.
“What happened 10 years ago was devastating to CD8. And at the same time CD9 has cultivated and worked and developed relationships at USC and then Expo, and at the same time, you cannot move all assets to either one of those districts,” Bremond said. “I have a responsibility to my community to address what has happened for decades of disinvestment in Los Angeles, so I just hope we can do what's right by the assets in the community to ensure that both council districts have assets moving forward.”
The commission eventually — and narrowly — passed a compromise: letting CD9 keep USC while giving Exposition Park back to CD8.
These issues were some of the reasons why Commissioner Rachel Torres (also appointed by Council President Martinez) ultimately voted no on the map.
“While I believe a lot of good changes have been made ... I still think that this map, as currently presented, is not finished, is not done, is not the map that I would be proud to say was the best that we could come up with,” Torres explained.
Commissioner Carlos Moreno, who was appointed by the city attorney, acknowledged the map isn’t perfect, but he still joined the majority voting in support.
“What the council does after this is up to the council, but I think no one can really question that each of us had collectively — we've done our best,” Moreno said.
Next week, the commission will meet one last time to approve a report that will accompany the map as it is sent to city hall for the council’s consideration and approval.
You can see the map the commission passed — K2.5 Final — in detail below. Zoom in to see exactly where the district lines could land. The commission also provided more data about the proposed districts, which you can read here.