A proposed final plan for the restructuring of county boundary lines submitted by Supervisor Don Knabe excludes Westchester from the Fourth District, leading a longtime resident to protest the possible removal from the largely coastal district.
Under Knabe’s suggested new redistricting plan, known as A3 amended, the Westchester community would be represented solely by Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who currently represents a portion of Westchester.
The Boundary Review Committee, which was appointed by the supervisors to address redistricting, submitted its final map Aug. 9 called Plan A2, which largely keeps the Third and Fourth districts intact.
Knabe, who has represented the coastal enclaves of Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey as well as Westchester, said the possible change is a matter of numbers.
Due to an addition of another community in the committee’s proposed map, the Fourth District was required to shift some of its population elsewhere, he said.
“We have to stay within certain population numbers, and these additions pushed me over the population limit,” the supervisor explained. “It’s really a balancing act.”
Los Angeles International Airport would remain in the Fourth District under both Ridley-Thomas’ and Knabe’s plans.
Supervisors Gloria Molina and Ridley-Thomas have also submitted plans for the board’s review. In her plan Molina, who represents the First District, would move a large portion of the Fourth District to the north while keeping Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey and Westchester in Knabe’s district. Ridley-Thomas’ map would move the vast majority of the Fourth District east, add Westchester to the Third District and group Playa del Rey and the South Bay’s coastal communities into Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s district.
“I have maintained from the start of the redistricting process that our top priority as a board must be to adhere to federal standards, including the Voting Rights Act requirements,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement recently. “These requirements were not created abstractly to promote the political dominance of one interest group at the expense of other groups, but to serve all voters fairly.”
Westchester would be the only community in the Argonaut coverage area that would be moved from the Fourth District if A3 amended is accepted by the supervisors.
Denny Schneider, a Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa member who has resided in Westchester for more than four decades, lives in east Westchester, which is represented by Ridley-Thomas. He was surprised to hear that under A3 amended, all of Westchester would be a part of the Second District.
“Moving us out of the Fourth District would not be acceptable,” Schneider asserted. “Dividing our communities of common interests would be business as usual.”
Westchester resident Candice Yip was more philosophical about a possible move to the Second District. Yip, who organized the spring meeting of the Westchester Mental Health Guild, said the non-profit has been receiving $2,000 every year from Knabe’s office for the Home Tour, one of its largest fundraisers.
“If we are not in his district anymore, we would sure miss this nice check every year, but whatever happens, happens,” she said. “We would miss his support.”
Knabe said Westchester’s numbers matched those of the community that was added to his district by the boundary commission. “I didn’t want to divide communities,” he said. “We tried to be as fair possible and shift the smallest number of people as possible.”
All redistricting proposals must also be in accordance with the requirements of the Los Angeles County Charter, including Article II, Section 4, which provides that “Los Angeles County shall have a Board of Supervisors consisting of five members, each of whom must be an elector of the district which she/he represents, and must reside therein during their incumbency.”
In addition, proposed redistricting plans must comply with requirements of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and with the mandate of the federal Voting Rights Acts of 1965, as amended, 42 USC 1973, to assure fair and effective representation for racial and language-minority groups.
The local Assembly and state Senate boundaries are also to be redrawn. Westchester could also lose its place within those largely coastal districts, among what many of its residents call “communities of common interests,” a phrase that is being used to identify Westchester with coastal areas such as Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey and much of the South Bay.
Like the ongoing process that is taking place at the state and national levels where Assembly and congressional districts are being redrawn, county supervisorial districts must also be reexamined and considered for reconfiguring after each census to ensure fair representation.
Schneider addressed the boundary commission July 13 and asked them not to make substantive changes to the Fourth District.
“We have been subjected to substantial gerrymandering in the past. Our community has been so divided up that only one elected official encompasses our full community – our Los Angeles city councilman,” Schneider told the commission. “We have at least two elected officials for every other office – and those boundaries differ for each office.
“This makes getting things done for the full community difficult at best because it requires coordination with so many overlapping officials. It severely diffuses responsibility to get anything done.”
Schneider pointed out that although Westchester is not a coastal neighborhood, it shares schools, a local business district, churches and service clubs with Playa del Rey and Playa Vista.
Vincent Harris, a senior deputy with Ridley-Thomas’ office, said the supervisor could be favorable to having Westchester in his district under certain conditions.
“If any changes are being made that are consistent with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, would consolidate unincorporated communities and balance population numbers that are closer to ideal numbers, the supervisor is likely to be sympathetic to such a move,” Harris said.
Knabe, who noted that the maps are recommendations and nothing is final yet, said having Westchester move to the Second District was not an easy decision. “It really is a balancing act,” the supervisor reiterated. “It’s strictly a numbers game.”
A public hearing on the final plan will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6 in downtown Los Angeles. The board must vote on a redistricting plan by Sept. 27.