Residents of various communities in the Fourth Supervisorial District will be anxiously awaiting how the county Board of Supervisors votes on the final drafts of the county’s redistricting efforts.
Two plans are slated to be presented to the board this month and one could alter the current alignment of the Fourth District by moving Westchester and Playa Vista to a district farther inland and transferring parts of Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey to another coastal district.
The supervisors will examine the recently completed final drafts of the county redistricting maps Tuesday, Aug. 9 and again Aug. 30.
Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Marinadel Rey, Playa del Rey and Westchester, mentioned the possible scenarios with the proposed drafts in an email to his constituents late last month.
“Change in the Fourth District is inevitable. Following the federal census results, it was determined that the Fourth District needs to add about 40,000 people to ensure that the county’s population is divided evenly into the five supervisorial districts,” the supervisor explained.
“The plan the commission ultimately approved and will recommend to the Board of Supervisors largely maintains our current district boundaries,” Knabe continued. “To add the required 40,000 residents, the plan brings in the city of Santa Fe Springs, and unifies most of Rowland Heights and South Whittier, parts of which are currently in the First District.
“This plan would shift about 150,000 people across the entire county to ensure fair representation.”
Knabe said another plan would move the Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey communities into the Third District with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and group parts of the Marina and Playa Vista into Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ area.
“The other option the commission considered, called S-1, which may also come to the board, makes dramatic changes across the county, moving 3.4 million people to a new district,” he said. “Under this plan, there would be major shifts in boundaries, including moving all of the beach cities and Long Beach out of the Fourth District.”
The Los Angeles County Boundary Review Committee, which has been charged with the task of redistricting, has submitted two finals drafts after having considered 17 over a period of several months.
All plans to reconfigure any legislative district must comply with the 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, according to the county’s redistricting website.
Steven Napolitano, Knabe’s South Bay and Marina field deputy, said his office has heard from local constituents who want to remain in the Fourth District.
“The message that we’ve been receiving is they want to continue to be a part of this district,” he said. “Supervisor Knabe’s approach has always been to have what he likes to call the ‘Nordstrom’s of county government.’ We deal with a great deal of constituent services in our district, and not every district is the same.”
Playa del Rey homeowner Nora MacLellan sees the three communities represented by the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa as being more similar to each other than inland neighborhoods.
“Personally, I feel that the communities of Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista are closely tied, mostly due to the fact that we are all within the geographical boundaries of our neighborhood council,” said MacLellan, who is a member of the local council. “It is the old saying, ‘all politics is local.’ And at the most basic form . . . we are one community.”
A local business organization has also weighed in on the proposed redistricting plans.
“On behalf of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce representing over 550 business members and more than 25,000 area jobs, we urge you to maintain as your primary focus the desire of communities of interest to remain in the same county, Assembly, Senate, congressional and Board of Equalization districts,” chamber President and CEO Christina Davis wrote to the commission July 27.
Playa del Rey resident Robert “Roy” van de Hoek said he would not mind if portions of his neighborhood were represented by Ridley-Thomas.
“I think that would be wonderful,” said van de Hoek, the lead biologist with the Ballona Institute in Playa del Rey.
While he believes that Knabe has been supportive of coastal wildlife restoration efforts, van de Hoek likes Ridley-Thomas’ positions on social justice through his Empowerment Congress and his support for the Park to Playa multi-use trail that will connect Baldwin Hills to the Pacific Ocean.
“I think that he would be a supporter of having the public from all walks of life exploring the Ballona Wetlands and embracing it more than the current supervisor,” said van de Hoek, whose union, Service Employees International Union, supported Ridley-Thomas in his 2008 election.
One of the purposes of the LAX chamber is that it is designed to assist contiguous neighborhoods that are similar in many ways, Davis said.
“It is no coincidence that the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce, which includes the communities of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Marina del Rey, was created and designed to assist and connect these like communities,” the chamber president wrote. “These communities share many similar issues and under the current proposal, our geographic zone, the LAX coastal area would be divided and our boundaries would be separated into many different districts.
“Splitting our communities would result in a lessened quality of service to the area constituents.”
MacLellan agrees. “I believe that we have more in common with Marina del Rey and the other coastal cities then we do with Inglewood,” she said. “Inglewood and our communities do have one common interest and that is (Los Angeles International Airport), but really that is the main one.”
MacLellan feels it is more beneficial to be represented by a single supervisor as opposed to more than one. Currently, Knabe represents the majority of Marina del Rey, but Yaroslavsky and Ridley-Thomas have small portions of the coast as well.
“One community voice is more powerful than a split community trying to speak to two separate supervisors,” she said.
Van de Hoek, a shop steward with SEIU, says multiple representation can have its own benefits. “It increases the opportunity for us to lobby more than one lawmaker and perhaps gain a consensus on what we want for our area,” he said.
Although they do not run along the coast, MacLellan considers Westchester and Playa Vista as part of a coastal trio.
“Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westchester are all coastal communities, when you have such easy access to the beach, not to mention the views that all of these communities have of the coastline,” she said. “Also, we are impacted by Ballona Creek and the entrance to the Marina.”
Knabe is encouraging his constituents to attend both board meetings this month. “Or, send a note of support through www.knabe.com/redistricting, or an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org encouraging the board not to move millions of residents out of their districts, splitting neighborhoods and communities that have been linked for decades,” he suggested. “As many of you have said throughout this process, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.’”
The board must approve a new map by Sept. 27.