Every 10 years, the Los Angeles City Council undertakes the process of dividing up the City into 15 districts of equal population. The residents of those districts will then - every four years - nominate candidates who also live in the district, and elect one to serve as their representative on the City Council.
Although this may seem like a pretty straightforward process, it is anything but.
Because only the people that live in the district can vote for and nominate candidates, during the redistricting process, many competing special interests will seek maps that establish a political advantage for their particular candidate, party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create desired electoral results.
This process - called "gerrymandering" - can be used to either help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group. The two aims of gerrymandering are to maximize the effect of supporters' votes and to minimize the effect of opponents' votes.
- One strategy, packing, is to concentrate as many voters of one type into a single electoral district to reduce their influence in other districts.
- A second strategy, cracking, involves spreading out voters of a particular type among many districts in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting bloc in any particular district.
Take a look at this October 2010 story from KCET's SoCal Connected for an easy-to-understand explaination:
The USC Annenberg School has also created a very informative website - RedistrictingGame.org - to help the public understand the importance of the redistricting process.
In an attempt to make this process fairer and less political, in 2000, the voters of Los Angeles adopted a new city charter that took the responsibility of drawing districts away from the City Council and gave it to a citizen's commission. This commission has held community meetings throughout Los Angeles, including one in the Eighth District that was one of the most well-attended in the city. Numerous residents gave public comment to the commission and about 95% had the same message: "I like my district; keep it intact."
This week, the group Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting released a report containing proposed maps for the South Los Angeles districts that do just that: they keep them almost entirely intact, except for a few minor changes to account for changes in population. (Population of all 15 districts must be equal). Councilmember Parks is pleased to endorse these maps, and these proposed districts.
Take a look at the Coalition's proposed maps, and take a look at the current map of the Eighth District. If you're like the 95% who testified before the commission who want their district left alone, and you like the Coalition's proposal, Councilmember Parks wants to hear from you! Send in a letter, email him Councilmember.Parks@lacity.org, send a Tweet @BernardCParks, or post a comment on his Facebook event page.
On January 25, the Commission will meet again, and, for the first time, show the public the map of council districts it is proposing. Once available, that map will be available through this link. If their proposal attempts to break up the Great 8th, we want to be armed with your letters, emails and comments to show that the community is opposed to such action.
If you can make the meeting in person, come and let the commission know yourself!
Wednesday, January 25th - 4:00 PM
Van Nuys City Hall
14410 Sylvan Street
Van Nuys, CA 91401
I recognize this not the most convenient time or location for many of you, so I have arranged to have the John Ferraro Council Chamber open, with live video of the meeting in Van Nuys up on the monitors. Members of the public in the Council Chamber will be able to speak to the Commission through a live video link.
Los Angeles City Hall
John Ferraro Council Chamber
200 N. Spring Street.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Proposed Maps - Endorsed by Councilmember Parks - From the Coalition for Fairness in Redistricting
Proposed new Council Districts 8 and 9 - click here to enlarge
Proposed CD 8 and CD9 Northern Border - click here to enlarge
Proposed Council District 15 - click here to enlarge
Proposed CD8, CD9 and CD 15 Border - click here to enlarge