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Opinion: LAUSD Redistricting Commission Needs to Hear From You

How and where districts are drawn can shape communities' abilities to elect the representatives of their choice. Districts must be made as equal in population as possible and practicable so that communities have equal access to political representation.

 

Every 10 years, districts are redrawn to account for population changes. A special commission made up of elected board members of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is tasked with advising the Los Angeles City Council on the creation and adoption of a redistricting plan.

Fifteen people are appointed to the Commission: four by the Mayor of Los Angeles, four by the Los Angeles City Council President, and one by each of the seven LAUSD board members. I was appointed by former City Council President Eric Garcetti to serve on this Commission.

Factors that the Commission must consider when drawing the lines include the protection of communities of interest and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—federal legislation that outlaws discriminatory voting practices used to disenfranchise voters based on race or color. Communities of interest are geographically connected populations that share common social and economic interests.

To ensure that the Commission is meeting these and other legal requirements, there have been noticed meetings and public hearings that include testimony from the public for the Commission's consideration when drawing the lines.

As an example of lack of community involvement, On Feb. 7, a public hearing for L.A. City Council District 4 was held to provide members of the community with an opportunity to address Commissioners before draft maps were drawn and circulated. Despite having hundreds of thousands of people included in the District, only four members of the public chose to provide comment on the process at this meeting, none of whom lived within the City of West Hollywood.

In the West Hollywood region, the Commission has since approved three maps for circulation. Each map is intended to spark discussion and elicit feedback from communities on the best ways to draw the boundaries. Maps A & B would divide schools serving West Hollywood between the newly-drawn Districts 4 and 5.

The map proposed by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund & Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) would divide schools serving West Hollywood between the newly-drawn Districts 1 and 4.

(from West Hollywood Patch article, Feb. 17)

See an interactive map of proposed LAUSD redistricting draft lines

On Feb. 15, I proposed a motion to request a 30-day extension for the LAUSD redistricting process in order to allow ample time for additional input from the community. Despite receiving the support of 50 percent of the 14 voting Commissioners, the motion did not pass, which means that final maps must be completed within two weeks to submit to the Los Angeles City Council.

These public hearings are intended to focus on testimony regarding specific Districts; however, all comments will be heard and entered into the record. The Commission will then meet on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. in the LAUSD Board Room downtown to determine a final draft map to submit to the Los Angeles City Council for approval. A final map must be submitted by March 1, as required by Los Angeles City Ordinance.

I encourage the residents to share your opinions with the Commission to ensure that your voice is heard. You can submit testimony to the Commission through the website - http://redistricting2011.lacity.org/ - or by emailing redistricting.LAUSD@lacity.org - or calling 213-473-5961. You can also draw your own maps to submit to the Commission through the Advancement Project's website - www.redrawlausd.org.

—Lindsey Horvath, LAUSD Redistricting Commissioner

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