Draft Maps of New City Council Districts Anger Some Members

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CITY NEWS SERVICE

A draft map of new Los Angeles City Council district boundaries that will be in place for the next decade was released Wednesday, drawing an angry response from some council members who said the maps made little sense.

The district boundaries were released by the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, a 21-member panel appointed by the city’s elected officials to redraw the maps based on 2010 census data.

The City Council will have to approve the final versions of the newly drawn boundaries after a period of public comment and any revisions by the commission.

The most notable changes include the separation of Westchester from LAX and the disunion of most of downtown from South Los Angeles. The new maps would extend one central Los Angeles district further into the San Fernando Valley, and eliminate a Westside district’s reach over the Santa Monica Mountains into the valley.

Among those most angered by the new maps was City Councilmember Jan Perry, whose district covers an area of South Los Angeles. Perry described the commission’s map-drawing as “economic apartheid.”

Under the new boundaries, Perry would keep the successful L.A. Live complex and Staples Center, but would lose most of downtown and Little Tokyo and would pick up Watts. Councilman Jose Huizar would gain the lion’s share of downtown, including Skid Row.

“The worst part of all this is that the commission has created an economic wasteland based on agreements between elected officials who have cut deals with the leadership in the City Council,” Perry said. “Clearly this is a grab for assets.”

Perry is mobilizing a group of downtown developers, Little Tokyo and downtown residents and community groups to oppose the new maps.

“This will hurt South L.A. To what end, I don’t know,” Perry said.

The LAX-adjacent community of Westchester, a neighborhood affected by the airport’s noise, traffic, security issues and expansion, would be moved out of Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s district, which includes the airport, into Councilmember Bernard Parks’ district to the east.

“That’s an insult, frankly, to the people engaged with an issue that impacts them. So that shows no respect for the people of Westchester,” Rosendahl said. “Politicians are basically looking out for their best interests.”

Bernard Parks Jr., Councilman Parks’ chief of staff, agreed that moving Westchester into his father’s district was drastic and said it does not make sense.

“Why are we all of the sudden adding areas that we have no relationship with and taking away areas that we have deep relationships with?” Parks Jr. said. “We believe Westchester is a great community, but we believe it’s a perfect fit with the councilman that represents it currently.”

The commission also moved much of Lemeirt Park Village, a historic black cultural center, out of Parks’ district into City Council President Herb Wesson’s district.

“It’s like having peanut butter and no jelly,” Parks Jr. said. “You can’t have the business community separate from the park that sits right in front of it. Very simple common sense would have told these commissioners that.”

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