As Los Angeles County pivots to deliver services in line with recently redrawn district boundaries, elected officials are reacting to the new map with a range of praise and condemnation.
Supervisor Janice Hahn, who will no longer represent many of the beach cities that previously made up her district, expressed confidence in the county’s ability to rise to the challenge.
“The independent citizen redistricting commission just made history by being the first people who were not supervisors to redraw the county’s district lines. This new map will mean big changes,” Hahn said in a statement released Wednesday night. “Millions of residents have a new supervisor, and supervisors have new constituents. There are going to be challenges, but I have no doubt that my colleagues and I will work to make sure communities get a warm handoff and no projects or issues fall through the cracks during this transition.”
In contrast, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl attacked the process as a political “shell game” designed to support particular candidates for the Second and Fifth Districts.
“Two non-progressive men, middle-of-the-road Democrats who hope to be supervisors, used the commission to shape their own dream districts,” Kuehl wrote. “Ironically, this putatively apolitical and oh-so-transparent Redistricting Commission’s final accomplishment was the rushed adoption of a strategically manipulated 11th-hour map.
“Commissioners who voted for this map: shame on you,” she added.
While still waiting last week on the commission’s final map, Kuehl and Supervisor Holly Mitchell tried to persuade their colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to plan for a slower conversion to the new boundaries.
They failed in that bid, and the three other members of the board provided the votes to pass a motion by Supervisor Hilda Solis to align constituent services with the new districts within 24 hours of the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s final decision.
During that meeting, Kuehl cited the transfer of ownership of Bruce’s Beach as an example of an important commitment made by one supervisor that might shift jurisdiction. Kuehl said if Manhattan Beach fell within her district, she would be just as fervent in supporting the work to return the shorefront property to the descendants of the Black family that once owned it, but noted that Hahn was the board member who had built relationships with the families and other parties involved in the complex transaction.
Each of the supervisors lost some cities and gained others under the new dramatically altered map, and Mitchell ultimately ended up representing Manhattan Beach. Mitchell thanked the commission Thursday, calling the process an “exercise in democracy.”
“I appreciate the members of the public who stepped up and volunteered to serve on the commission and to those who participated in this exercise in democracy by adding their voice to the redistricting process,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I’m excited to welcome the coastal cities, and one of the biggest economic drivers in the region, Los Angeles International Airport. From Baldwin Hills to the beach cities and all the neighborhoods in between, I’m focused on providing continuity in public service and meeting the diverse needs of my constituents.”
Solis also reached out to constituents Thursday to let them know that “Claremont, Pico Rivera and the Southeast Los Angeles region, including Commerce, will no longer be part of the First District — but these communities will forever be important to me.”
Solis’ new district includes Alhambra, Covina, Diamond Bar, Hacienda Heights, San Gabriel and Rowland Heights — San Gabriel Valley communities with a growing Asian American Pacific Islander population — and the Eastside and Northeast L.A.
Kuehl said the commission followed a thoughtful process of trying to maintain communities of interest, reviewing a series of more than 100 maps, but then suddenly reversed course last weekend and adopted an entirely new map rather than two carefully vetted front-runners.
“Supervisor Barger’s Fifth District would inexplicably extend south, absorbing landmarks such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Ford Theatres, and Universal Studios, while the Third District which I represent would extend north and west from Santa Monica out to Chatsworth and up to Porter Ranch,” Kuehl said. “No one stopped to wonder why it made sense to separate the Hollywood Bowl from the rest of Hollywood.”
The political result is that Third District voters will lean more centrist in aggregate, while the Fifth District, served by Barger — who is the only registered Republican on the non-partisan county board — will encompass slightly fewer conservative voters, according to Kuehl.
Barger, whose current term runs through 2024, said, “Redistricting is about balance. In a county as big as ours, with over 10 million residents, the redistricting process is important because we’ve had a lot of growth and change in the last decade.”
She said she was happy to continue representing the north county as well as the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valley foothill communities and supporting those communities’ shared commitment to environmental priorities.
The boundaries have historically changed every 10 years in response to changing demographics reflected in Census data. However, in years past, the county board itself drove the process, choosing the final map.
Under state law, the Board of Supervisors now has no authority over adoption of the CRC’s map and no ability to prepare in advance for a shift in service delivery.
“(The Legislature) did not want us meddling in it,” Solis said last week.
Solis will be running for re-election in her newly drawn district next year, while Kuehl will step down at the end of her second term in December 2022.
Several candidates have stepped up to bid for Kuehl’s seat, including Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, West Hollywood Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath, Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin and Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica.
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, confirmed on Tuesday to Politico that he is also “seriously considering” running for the seat representing much of the San Fernando Valley and Westside.
Stern’s campaign emailed media outlets Wednesday night, shortly after the commission adopted the new boundaries, alerting them that Stern would officially announce his candidacy in Sherman Oaks on Thursday.