Mar Vista resident Kadota named as redistricting commission vice chair

BY GARY WALKER

A commission that will review the boundaries of the Los Angeles City Council has been chosen and will soon begin the process of deciding if the 15 districts will be left intact or altered next year.

The 15-member Los Angeles Redistricting Commission is holding a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 at the IMAN Center, 3376 Motor Ave., Los Angeles. Mar Vista resident Rob Kadota has been named as the vice chair of the panel.

Like the county and state, municipalities are required to review district boundaries every 10 years. In Los Angeles, that provision is also written in the city charter under Section 204.

Paragraph A of the charter entitled “Redistricting by Ordinance” states, “Commencing in 2002, the council shall by ordinance redraw district lines to be used for all elections of council members, including their recall, and for filling any vacancy in the office of the member of the council, after the effective date of the redistricting ordinance.

“Districts so formed shall each contain, as early as practicable, equal portions of the total population of the city as shown by the federal census immediately preceding the formation of districts.”

According to the city charter, no officeholder will lose their seat on the council due to a change on the district where they are currently serving through redistricting.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl said he would like to see his affluent, coastal 11th District remain as it currently exists and has been direct about any plans by the council and the commission to alter them.

“I’ve gotten to know my constituents, which include homeowners groups, and neighborhood councils, and the geography of the communities in the Westside,” the councilman said. “They’re engaged in issues that are common in the district, and to break it up would be an insult to me and my constituents.”

Rosendahl’s district includes the Argonaut coverage area communities of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista and Playa Vista.

Del Rey resident Mark Redick believes any changes to the 11th District would result in Westside communities being disenfranchised, especially as it relates to neighborhood councils.

“I support Councilman Rosendahl in his belief of keeping the district together 100 percent,” said Redick, a former president of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council. “There are members of the City Council that are no friend to the neighborhood council system, and to have someone who does not believe in grassroots democracy would be a detrimental effect on all of the accomplishments that exist in Council District 11.”

Rosendahl said because his district is comprised of contiguous communities, this has allowed a sense of unity among neighborhoods to blossom, such as how residents of Mar Vista and Venice have banded together against airport pollution emanating from the Santa Monica Airport.

Other areas of collaboration include environmental initiatives, neighborhood councils working in unison on budget matters and regional topics like development and traffic.

The possibility of seeing the district change has Mar Vista resident Sherri Akers worried.

“I have a conviction that the neighborhood councils are a really vital tool for change in Los Angeles and I am working at networking to build on that,” said Akers, the co-chair of the Mar Vista Community Council’s Green Committee.

“This redistricting is completely counter-productive to that. It almost seems designed to minimize our effectiveness.”

Redistricting has already caused a change in legislators at the state and county level in parts of The Argonaut coverage area. Fourth District County Supervisor Don Knabe no longer represents Westchester after the Board of Supervisors redrew its boundaries following a population shift that occurred in the southern portion in his district.

Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who previously shared the community with Knabe, now represents Westchester.

State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Marina del Rey) was not affected, but Assemblywoman Betsy Butler’s (D-Marina del Rey) district, which includes Marina del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista and Playa del Rey, has been redrawn. Formerly called the 53rd District, the new boundaries will include only Westchester, Venice and Mar Vista on the Westside and Inglewood and its surrounding neighborhoods in the new 62nd District.

That district, with the exception of Marina del Rey and Venice, is currently represented by Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood).

Butler is planning to move to Santa Monica to run for the newly created 50th Assembly District seat that will be vacated by Julia Brownley next year.

Rosendahl, who lives in Mar Vista, said his office has been engaged in the most pressing concerns of the district and to lose that representation would be damaging to his constituents.

“To break up the district would be an insult to our communities and to me,” he said. “Ours is the only district that is contiguous and has not been gerrymandered.”

Redick said the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, a representative body comprised of neighborhood councils including Venice, Westchester-Playa, Del Rey and Mar Vista, should also weigh in on redistricting.

Resident Denny Schneider is especially concerned about Westchester being taken out of the district only months after it was removed from the county’s coastal boundaries. He feels it is critical that Westsiders make their positions known to the commission early, citing a prior attempt to move Westchester to another council district.

“We stopped the removal of our community the last time in (2000),” Schneider, a Westchester-Playa neighborhood council member, recalled. “I think this time is even more critical.”

Redick said the 11th District has not seen a significant shift in demographics, which is a large part of what redistricting is based upon. “By changing the boundaries of our district, (the commission) would be gutted by a reckless redistricting plan,” he asserted.

Schneider said if the district is split with another area, Westchester residents could find themselves with an unfamiliar representative who is not in tune with their needs.

“We have heard the rumors (about moving Westchester to another district) and we are adamant that that not happen,” he said.

Kadota, who was appointed by Rosendahl, said community participation is important to the process in order to convey to the commission what they would like to see happen to their respective neighborhoods.

“We’re trying to make sure the commission understands communities,” said Kadota, a former chair of the Mar Vista Community Council. “It’s important for the public to attend to make sure we protect their community and that we don’t divide and compromise their identity.”

Akers said she definitely plans to attend the meeting. “I have very strong feelings about this,” she said.

Rosendahl, who announced his intention to run for reelection in September, stressed his desire that the commission not reconfigure his district.

“I am blessed with a beautiful, compact district that is not gerrymandered in any way,” the councilman reiterated. “I hope to keep it that way, and I encourage residents of the 11th District to get involved with the process and let their voices be heard.”

Each district will hold a meeting on the redistricting process that is open to the public.

Information on City Council redistricting, http://redistricting2011.lacity.org.

The City Council will approve the final map next year.

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