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Civics & Democracy

How You Can Help Shape The Future of LA's City Council — From Its Size To How Districts Are Drawn

Cavernous council chambers are full of a diverse crowd sitting on wooden benches, they're facing the council dais, their backs to the camera. Two police officers stand next to the short wooden entrance that leads to the dais.
Los Angeles City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 13th, 2022 was the first with five new members.
(Brian Feinzimer
for LAist)
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Should we have more city council members in Los Angeles? What about an independent commission to decide where district boundaries are? How would all this work if we did do it?

These are some of the early questions a special city council committee is trying to figure out. And one of our readers, Valerie Morishige, an L.A. community advocate, wants to get people more civically engaged in the process. She asked LAist:

How can people get involved in the city's redistricting and council expansion discussion and public hearings happening right now? What orgs and coalitions can regular folks join to have a say in how our city will be drawing the lines?

“Right now your city council member represents 265,000 people," said Morishige. "Who do you think they listen to right now? It's definitely not us everyday folks.”

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“Unless people get involved now and really hear the process and are able to get their two cents in, no one’s gonna trust anything that the city puts on the ballot.”

A public tour is underway

Well, as it happens, the City Council’s governance reform ad hoc committee — a body that’s helming more interesting work than its name implies — is doing a public tour around L..A. right now to get people’s thoughts.

Here’s how you can get more involved in what happens next.

Why the tour is happening

We’re here because of last year’s scandal when city council members were recorded using racist language and trying to carve out neighborhoods in their favor.

Even before the tape was publicized, the redrawing of these lines had worried some neighborhood residents, concerned they may be split up between districts.

With just 15 council members for roughly 4 million residents, many are calling for an expansion. For that to happen, the city charter needs to be changed, which will require a public vote.

The committee, chaired by councilmember Paul Krekorian, is taking the meetings on the road. (If you’re in the mood for a read, the meetings are about this report from the Chief Legislative Analyst.)

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There are just four of these dedicated meetings in total, with one already done, so the tour is pretty short.

The first meeting on April 20 was about the size of council districts since a ballot measure is in the works to expand the council. The remaining meetings will be about independent redistricting.

And with the ending of telephone public comment in council committee meetings, the chances of your voice getting heard and listened to are slim if you don’t show up.

Ways to get your voice is heard

If you have thoughts about having a bigger city council or how redrawing neighborhoods should work, this is your time.

Here are some ways you can get involved.

These are your neighbors who have a megaphone direct to your councilmember's office. Not only can they help you get trash cans installed, but they can let the city council know about support or disapproval for certain motions and elevate ideas to change them.

Many neighborhood councils have spoken up about redistricting concerns and the corruption problems, so it’s a good idea to get plugged in with people leading your neighborhood.

  • Get involved with prominent organizing groups

Fair Rep LA has been leading in this space since 2021. And with this tour of committee meetings, they’re speaking up in public comment. They’re a coalition of local advocacy groups “organizing around expanding the L.A. City Council and the city adopting an independent redistricting commission for more equitable and accountable representation.”

This coalition is full of other groups that you can get involved with too, such as the League of Women Voters, L.A. Forward and Unrig LA.

  • Attend the meetings and call your councilmember

Of course, showing up is likely the most direct thing you can do at this stage. But don’t forget you can also pick up the phone and call your council member’s office.
The committee is led by council members Krekorian, Nithya Raman, Bob Blumenfield, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Heather Hutt, Eunisses Hernandez and Traci Park. Use our guide to know who represents you based on where you are.

Where and when you can catch a meeting

There are three meetings left. Don’t forget, telephone public comment is not allowed anymore in committee meetings.

If you want to be heard, you either have to show up in person or submit a written public comment in advance online.

Topic: Commission Selection

  • When: Monday, May 22, 2023 at 4 p.m.
  • Where: Van Nuys City Hall — 14410 Sylvan Street, Van Nuys, CA 91401

Topic: Commission Instructions

  • When: Thursday, June 1, 2023 at 10 a.m.
  • Where: Cheviot Hills Recreation Center (In the Gym). 2551 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Topic: Commission Support Systems

  • When: Monday, June 12, 2023 at 10 a.m.
  • Where: Los Angeles City Hall — 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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