Westchester and Playa del Rey are two communities that could face the possibility of relocation into another supervisorial district as county authorities look at a series of redistricting plans that could drastically realign some neighborhoods from their longtime boundaries.
The Los Angeles County Boundary Review Committee has been meeting over the last several weeks to analyze 17 preliminary plans that are under consideration. Two public meetings were held in downtown Los Angeles June 11 and 13.
Each of the five county supervisors appointed one commissioner and one staff member to the commission.
Some of the submitted maps suggest a complete reconfiguration of each district, while others do not propose such drastic changes.
Steven Napolitano, Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe’s Westside field deputy, said some reconfigurations must take place due to a variance in the county population numbers over the last decade.
“The Fourth District has lost 40,000 residents in the last 10 years, so there needs to be some changes,” Napolitano said. “The current boundaries have been in place for 20 years.”
There is some overlap in the current county districts. The Third District, represented by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, is largely a coastal district that includes Santa Monica and Malibu and also has a small portion of Marina del Rey. Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has a portion of Playa del Rey and Westchester, as well as the Marina in a district that largely encompasses South Los Angeles.
Knabe represents cities in the South Bay as well as Marina del Rey and portions of Playa del Rey and Westchester.
Some of the maps recommend moving Playa and most of Westchester into Yaroslavsky’s area and others move Westchester into the Second District with Ridley-Thomas.
One recommendation submitted under county identification # L1 would merge both Playa and Westchester into Ridley-Thomas’ district and Knabe’s would move farther inland but would still retain the beach communities of the South Bay.
Under this plan, Venice and Santa Monica, which are currently in Yaroslavsky’s district. would also become part of the Second District.
“The (preliminary proposals) are literally all over the place,” Napolitano said.
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.
According to the county’s website on redistricting, adjustments to the boundaries are made to ensure that districts are made to be “as nearly equal in population as may be.”
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.
Vincent Harris, Ridley-Thomas’ senior deputy, said the supervisor’s primary concern was compliance with all legal requirements and federal statutes and the Voting Rights Act. Harris also said that Ridley-Thomas would like to see, legalities permitting, Westchester and Playa del Rey under one supervisorial district.
“The supervisor believes that the areas of Westchester and Playa del Rey that are currently divided between two supervisors should fall into one district,” he acknowledged. “It makes for better government and it is much simpler for constituents.”
Westchester resident Denny Schneider attended the July 13 meeting in downtown Los Angeles to address the commission.
“The gerrymandering of the past has created a system where we have no commonalities of representation except for our city councilman,” Schneider said in an interview before his appearance before the commission.
Napolitano said his office has heard from a number of constituents who want the communities and neighborhoods of the Fourth District to remain intact.
“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,’ and we deal with a great deal of constituent services in our district, and not every district is the same.”
Roslyn Walker, a Marina del Rey resident, would no longer like to be part of the Fourth District, due to what she feels is the county’s failure to stand up for its constituents.
“I strongly recommend removing Marina del Rey from the Fourth Supervisorial District of Los Angeles County, in the final outcome of the redistricting process,” she wrote in a letter to the editor of The Argonaut June 28.
Walker said she had contacted committe chair Curt Pederson of the redistricting commission to voice her concerns.
“Marina del Rey area neighborhoods, communities and cities never have and do not belong in the Fourth District boundaries, as they have always and currently are being treated like an orphan area to the supervisor of the Fourth District, as evidenced by the terrible management over the years of Marina del Rey,” she asserted.
While Schneider says he has worked with Ridley-Thomas and his Second District constituents on regional matters like transportation and the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail line, he thinks Playa del Rey and Westchester belong under Knabe’s representation.
“We should be in the Fourth District,” he said. “Westchester and Playa share common interest. We share the same schools, a business district and a neighborhood council.”
A segment of Marina residents have been disgruntled with the way they feel county officials have handled a variety of issues over the last decade. Walker accused county officials of mismanaging the coastal enclave and lessees have been permitted “total deferred maintenance over all their lease years,” she wrote.
Napolitano said a relocation of certain communities from the Fourth District could cause a certain amount of upheaval.
“There are, in some cases, generations of constituents who have grown up under the guidance of one supervisor,” he noted. “There is a history there with not just the supervisor, but with the staff that know the nuances of their communities.”
Harris said although redistricting occurs once every 10 years, citizens who take part in public meetings can have a unique experience.
“The redistricting process can provide a very good civics lesson,” he said.
Napolitano thinks state redistricting has overshadowed the county process, which he says is also important.
“I think that a lot of things about county government fly under the radar, and people might wake up one day and find that they have a new supervisor,” he cautioned.
The redistricting website is www.redistricting.lacounty.gov.
Residents who wish to make comments on redistricting may submit them online.
The Board of Supervisors will hold two public hearings in August, Napolitano said, and will vote on the final map next month.