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L.A. Council Wants Residents to Decide Redistricting Reforms

City Council President Paul Krekorian believes that when it comes to establishing a redistricting commission, state lawmakers may not be aware of or understand the nuances of making good policy at the city level.

(TNS) — Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian believes that any redistricting commission for the city should be decided by Angelenos, not by state lawmakers who may not even live in the area.

A resolution he introduced last week, stating council opposition to a proposed state bill that would do just that, advanced out of the City Council's Ad Hoc Committee on City Governance Reform on Monday, Feb. 6. Next it heads to the full city council for a vote.

Krekorian, who also chairs the ad hoc committee, said during Monday's committee discussion that the state Legislature may not be aware or understand "all the things specific to Los Angeles" to be considered when establishing a commission, including the fact that some want to add more seats to the city council. That could impact the number and makeup of representatives that should serve on a redistricting commission.

"It would be a poor way to make policy" if the state Legislature did not take that into account, Krekorian said moments before committee members voted 6-0 to advance his resolution opposing Senate Bill 52, which was sponsored by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, who represents District 26 in the state Senate.

Senate District 26 represents parts of eastern, northeastern and central L.A., including residents in East L.A., Eagle Rock, Los Feliz and Pico-Union.

The council president added that he believed handing over decisions related to the establishment of an independent redistricting commission to the state Legislature would be a "blatant abrogation of this council's authority and responsibility under the city charter and, in my view, unconstitutional."

Durazo hit back, stating, "It's not surprising that current city councilmembers would oppose my work to take self-interest out of the redistricting process. They chose to ignore City Attorney Mike Feuer's earlier recommendations. The Los Angeles City Council remains the largest entity in California without independent redistricting."

She went on, "Redistricting has always brought out the worst tendencies in politicians. We saw that in October and we will see it again."

Krekorian's resolution states in part that the state Constitution gives charter cities like L.A. authority over their own municipal affairs and elections, including determining how they'll conduct redistricting.

"Los Angeles voters, who intimately understand the diverse and unique nature of the City, deserve to decide the terms of their own redistricting process, and should not have that right overruled by the State legislature," the resolution states.

Krekorian, along with Councilmember Nithya Raman, first proposed that the city switch to an independent redistricting commission in late 2021, as the city was wrapping up its latest effort to redraw City Council boundaries based on updated U.S. Census data.

But that proposal lingered in another council committee, and the issue of redistricting reform did not become a hot button item again until last October, when a secretly recorded audio of a backroom conversation unveiled three current or former councilmembers discussing the 2021 redistricting process — and how they wished to manipulate it.

Since then, there have been renewed calls to reform the redistricting commission so that it is independent of the City Council. Currently, councilmembers get to appoint commission members and can override any commission recommendation about how to redraw council boundaries.

The city council's governance reform ad hoc committee is in the process of discussing redistricting reforms. The goal is to place a proposal on the November 2024 ballot, asking voters to amend the city's charter to allow for redistricting reforms.

(c)2023 Daily Breeze, Torrance, Calif. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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