Commission Adopts Final Redistricting Maps for California

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The Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) congratulated the Citizens Redistricting Commission for completing its responsibility of redrawing California’s Assembly, Senate, Board of Equalization and House of Representatives districts based on Census 2010 data.

On Aug. 15, the commission adopted new district maps that will go into effect during the 2012 election cycle unless there are successful challenges through the legal or referendum processes.

During 2009 and 2010, APALC worked with the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting (CAPAFR) to educate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members about the redistricting process and helped them to provide information about their communities to the commission.

With APALC’s assistance, CAPAFR also submitted Assembly and Senate mapping proposals to the commission and advocated with the commission to keep intact AAPI communities of interest and neighborhoods. This included the preparation and submission of a “unity” map that CAPAFR jointly prepared with African American and Latino community leaders.

“For AAPI communities across the state, the commission’s final maps represent an overall improvement from the last set of districts drawn in 2001,” said Joanna Lee, senior research analyst at APALC. “Although some AAPI communities are split by the new district lines, many AAPI communities that were fragmented in the 2001 district maps are now united.”

APALC on Tuesday conducted a media briefing about the impact of the new district lines on AAPI communities in Southern California. APALC staff members provided a chart and maps showing AAPI communities across the state that CAPAFR sought to keep whole and whether those communities are intact in the new district maps. The chart and maps are available at CAPAFR’s website, http://www.capafr.org/resources1.

Notably, the commission’s final maps create California’s first state or federal district in which Asian Americans make up a majority of the district’s population eligible to vote, measured by citizen voting-age population (CVAP). Specifically, Asian Americans make up 50.09 percent of CVAP in Assembly District 49, located in the west San Gabriel Valley.

“APALC believes the creation of this district was warranted under the federal Voting Rights Act,” said Eugene Lee, APALC’s voting rights project director.

The new maps generally reflect an effort by the commission to keep intact various communities of interest, which are populations with shared social and economic interests that should be kept together for purposes of fair and effective representation.

For example, the commission drew legislative districts that keep intact the Los Angeles neighborhood of Koreatown (Assembly District 53, Senate District 24 and Congressional District 34), thus respecting significant community testimony asking the commission to unify Koreatown, which was previously split in the 2001 district lines.

In some instances, however, AAPI communities were split. Little Saigon in Orange County is divided into two congressional districts, 47 and 48, with the heart of Little Saigon drawn into a coastal district (48) containing areas whose residents have substantially different needs from residents of Little Saigon.

“Although the split of some AAPI communities raises significant concerns, the maps generally enhance opportunities across the state for socioeconomically cohesive AAPI communities to have improved representation on key state and federal issues affecting them,” said Karin Wang, vice president of programs and communications at APALC. “During the 2012 election cycle and beyond, APALC and other organizations will conduct naturalization and voter education efforts to ensure that AAPI communities can capitalize on these opportunities.”

The commission’s final maps are posted on its website at http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/maps-final-drafts.html, along with the commission’s report on the final maps.

APALC, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, is the nation’s largest AAPI legal and civil rights organization, serving more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Founded in 1983, APALC’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact AAPIs and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.

Through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, leadership development and capacity building, APALC seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the AAPI community while also building a strong AAPI voice for civil rights and social justice. On the Web: www.apalc.org

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