The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, has submitted to the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission a citywide redistricting plan that keeps the city’s Asian American neighborhoods intact within specific districts.
The city is in the process of redrawing its electoral lines to balance out population based on the 2010 Census. The commission — which is tasked with redrawing the map — has taken public testimony and public mapping proposals in order to gather input.
To develop its mapping proposal, APALC’s redistricting team met with Asian American community groups and other community leaders and provided guidance to those who testified before the commission requesting that their neighborhoods be kept intact.
Because Los Angeles is multicultural and residents have strong affinities with their neighborhoods, it is one of the most complex cities to map.
“Our proposal to the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission balances Asian American community interests with many diverse interests throughout the city,’’ said Joanna Lee, APALC’s senior research analyst. “We hope the commission will consider our map as they draw districts.”
Not all Asian American communities are currently kept together. For example, under the existing district configuration, Koreatown is split into four districts.
APALC’s plan addresses such concerns. APALC’s mapping proposal largely unifies Koreatown by placing nearly all of Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council in Council District 13. The proposal was based on testimony from Koreatown community members, who testified at several of the commission’s public hearings that at a minimum, they wanted Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council to be kept whole.
Although a small portion of the neighborhood council could not be included in the district because of the need to balance other interests such as the voting rights of Latinos in adjacent districts, APALC’s plan would strengthen the voice of Koreatown residents when compared to current district lines.
As for other communities, Thai Town is kept whole in Council District 4; Little Tokyo and Chinatown are kept whole in Council District 1, and Historic Filipinotown is kept intact in Council District 13, according to APALC’s plan.
When a community is split, the community’s ability to appeal to their elected official to address their needs is diminished,’’ stated Deanna Kitamura, APALC’s statewide redistricting manager. “Our plan asks the commission to respect the federal Voting Rights Act, which requires that in certain circumstances racial groups make up a majority of a district, and to keep intact neighborhoods and communities sharing common social and economic interests.”
The commission will release a draft map next week, and is expected to finalize a map by the end of February and send it to the City Council for approval.
The commission’s website is: http://redistricting2011.lacity.org/LACITY/default.html.
A PowerPoint presentation of APALC’s plan is available at: http://ens.lacity.org/cla/lacity_map/clalacity_map323275269_01172012.pdf.