LA City Council committee plans to reform redistricting process

The committee plans to announce several other opportunities for public comment across Los Angeles in the near future.

Christiane Cordero Image
Tuesday, June 13, 2023
LA City Council committee plans to reform redistricting process
In an effort to reimagine how it can better draw district lines, the Los Angeles City Council's Committee on Governance Reform will spend the next three months hearing input from L.A. residents.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In an effort to reimagine how it can better draw district lines, the Los Angeles City Council's Committee on Governance Reform will spend the next three months hearing input from L.A. residents.

Monday's committee meeting at city hall was the last of four before the council's summer recess. Previous meetings took place in Exposition Park, Van Nuys and Cheviot Hills.

People who have spoken are concerned about how district maps are drawn, whether they include or exclude certain neighborhoods or divide neighborhoods that are predominantly of a certain racial or socioeconomic group. Beyond the maps themselves being in question is the trust of those elected to help create them.

"Their own experience with local government has really demonstrated a lack of trust," said Alejandra Ponce de Leon, who works for the racial equity nonprofit Catalyst California and spoke before the committee. "There's fear of corruption."

October's leaked audio recordings riddled with current and former city council members using racial slurs is a clear example of how the redistricting process can pin cultures against each other.

Ponce de Leon believes everyone can get a fair district map, but changing the system to ensure fairness requires residents engage with it.

"How do we redesign the process so it's thinking about, 'What are the biggest barriers that our communities often face that keep them from participating? and how do we actually create opportunities that enable their participation?'" said Ponce de Leon.

The committee brainstormed with its Chief Legislative Analyst Monday on how many meetings it should have in the next phase, where and how.

Monday's meeting started at 10 a.m. downtown, and was available in English with Spanish translation.

In attendance were predominantly people representing nonprofits, adding context to how the city serves various communities, and how it doesn't.

"The original people's here have been erased from the process or from political representation of power," said Joey Williams, speaking on behalf of the California Native Vote Project. "So when we look at the 15 districts, there's not one where you have a concentration of Native American voters."

He was among many who took issue with the number of districts. Several speakers vouched to add districts, and therefore city council seats.

"We know that we're not represented by the current city council," said Candice Cho, of AAPI Equity Alliance. "The current city council at 15 members means we're one of a quarter of a million people in each council district."

She and others also advocated for an independent redistricting commission, reallocating power from the city council members.

The committee plans to announce several other opportunities for public comment across Los Angeles in the near future. It plans to consider and vote on final recommendations in mid-September.