L.A. finalizes its redistricting map for the next 10 years

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The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to finalize its new set of council district maps for the next 10 years, bringing a quiet end to a frequently contentious redistricting process.

On a 13-0 vote, council members approved a redistricting ordinance that places Koreatown in a single council district, reworks political boundaries in the San Fernando Valley and ensures that USC and Exposition Park remain in the South Los Angeles district represented by Councilman Curren Price.

Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson had pushed without success in recent weeks to have Exposition Park — which includes the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Banc of California Stadium and the California African American Museum — moved out of Price’s district and into his own district. On social media, he said his district lacks major economic assets, describing the issue as a matter of “Black equity, representation and fairness.”

Harris-Dawson’s district, which also takes in a portion of South Los Angeles, is the only one in the city with a voting population that is majority Black.

On Tuesday morning, Harris-Dawson urged his constituents on Instagram to call in to the council meeting, saying he was “fighting for the future of all of South LA.” Once the redistricting plan came up, however, he voted with his colleagues to approve the ordinance.

No one on the council brought up Exposition Park or any other facet of the redistricting map. Councilman Joe Buscaino was absent.

Price, whose district stretches from Staples Center south to 95th Street, said after the meeting that he wasn’t surprised the vote went so smoothly. Residents in his district, which is considered the city’s most impoverished and is overwhelmingly Latino, had been calling for several weeks to have Exposition Park stay where it is.

“My constituents worked very hard to express their points of view and I think my colleagues recognized that,” he said.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote may have been a reflection of the council’s recess schedule. Had any council member cast an opposing vote, a second vote on the redistricting ordinance would have been required next week, when the council is already scheduled to be on its holiday recess.

The new maps are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. Sophie Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for Council President Nury Martinez, said her boss had been prepared to schedule a special meeting for next week if the redistricting vote was not unanimous.

The council creates new boundaries for its 15 districts every 10 years, following the release of U.S. census data. To ensure equal representation, each of L.A.’s council districts must have around 260,000 constituents.

The tug-of-war over Exposition Park was a subplot of this year’s redistricting process. But it was frequently overshadowed by debates over how to reconfigure council districts in the Valley.

In October, a 21-member citizens commission recommended a map that would place five and two-thirds council districts within the Valley, a change aimed at giving that region’s voters more political clout.

As part of that proposal, the commission also recommended huge changes to districts represented by council members Paul Krekorian, Bob Blumenfield and Nithya Raman. Neighborhood leaders in the Valley quickly rebelled.

Martinez led the council’s effort to rework the commission proposal, restoring portions of those three districts. Still, even with those changes, Raman’s district is expected to lose about 40% of her current constituents, moving deeper into the Valley and taking in all or a portion of Encino, Studio City and Reseda.

Like Harris-Dawson, Raman voted no on the redistricting plan last month. On Tuesday, however, she sided with the rest of her colleagues.

“The councilmember had made her objections to the map clear in previous meetings,” Raman spokeswoman Stella Stahl said in an email. “As we head into the new year, she is excited to meet her new constituents who can expect a knock on their door very soon!”

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