By Terry Miller
It doesn’t happen very often but California’s political districts have suffered a major temblor in which many districts, particularly traditionally GOP strongholds, could face big changes.
Every 10 years cities, counties, school boards and states redraw the lines for districts to “keep representation equal.” This process is increasingly public. This year, for the first time, California state legislative lines were drawn by an independent commission.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission for the State of California has completed the creation of statewide district maps for Assembly, Senate, Board of Equalization, and Congress in accordance with the provisions of Article XXI of the California
Constitution. The maps have received final approval by the Commission and have been certified to the Secretary of State.
The amount of public participation has been “unprecedented” according to commission reports. Through the course of 34 public meetings and 32 locations around the state, more than 2,700 people participated in person, and over 20,000 written comments were submitted. In addition, “extensive participation in the form of proposed alternative maps for the state, various regions, or selected districts were received from a variety of individuals and groups” the commission noted.
The Redistricing Commission says “the result of this effort is a set of statewide district maps for Assembly, Senate, Board of Equalization, and Congress that fully and fairly reflects the input of the people of California.”
Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich announced Tuesday that three alternative redistricting plans have been submitted for consideration by the Board of Supervisors. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is required by law to review supervisorial boundaries based on updated census data every 10 years. Any plan approved by the Board must meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act as well as other federal and state laws regarding redistricting.
“I have always supported districts that respect geographic boundaries and do not gerrymander communities of interest,” said Mayor Antonovich. “Many factors should be considered in determining a community of interest and having three plans will afford an opportunity for the public to comment on a variety of configurations of the supervisorial districts.”
Alternative maps may be reviewed online at http://redistricting.lacounty.gov/. An analysis of each plan will be available no later than August 21, 2011. A public hearing will be held on September 6, 2011 at 10:00am at the Board Hearing Room – 500 West Temple Street. The public hearing will offer an opportunity for the public to provide input into the final plan.
While the commission claimed “The process open, transparent, and free of partisanship.” There are “challenges” according to the Commissioners’ report.
“There were long and difficult debates, and disagreements among competing communities. The people of California demanded a fair and open process with Propositions 11 and 20, which amended the California Constitution and created the Commission.
The people participated in the implementation of the Commission, with over 36,000 applicants vying for 14 seats on the Commission. The people participated in the deliberations and debate over where to draw the lines.”
Reblican leaders announced an effort to invalidate many of California’s new voting districts Monday as the boundaries were finalized by the commission that drew them.
The maps, drafted for the first time by a citizens’ panel rather than politicians, could give Democrats stronger clout in the state as well as California’s congressional delegation.
In particular, the new lines put Democrats within reach of the two-thirds majority, which is needed to raise taxes, in the state Senate.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission consists of five Democrats, five Republicans and four unaffiliated members. But state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro characterized the approved boundaries as “unfair if not unconstitutional.”
Some on the 14-member commission expressed reservations about its final redistricting maps.
If a referendum makes it to the ballot, the redistricting plan adopted Monday will be suspended and the state Supreme Court will determine districts for the 2012 election.
The president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, meanwhile, said his organization is considering taking the commission to court.
The state Supreme Court on Monday announced an expedited process for hearing legal challenges to the new maps.
Arcadia is now to be part of a congressional district that includes south through Pasadena down to the 60 Freeway, Altadena, San Marino, South Pasadena, Rosemead, Monterey Park, and San Gabriel. Glendora will also be part of this district.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, will reside in the new district and is running for that seat.
Arcadia is currently flanked by the 44th District represented by
Democrat Anthony, Portantino and 59th Assembly Districts, which is newly represented by and Republican Tim Donnelly.
Portantino, who is exploring his options for a congressional bid, has yet to officially announce his plans. There are three congressional seats Portantino could vie for.
Arcadia falls into a district with Temple City and 49th District cities San Marino, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead and Monterey Park.
The final state senate district maps also group Arcadia with the above cities mentioned with the Assembly district, but also with several cities farther east, such as Baldwin Park, West Covina, Covina, La Puente and Azusa.
There is information on the process and the finalized maps www.redistrictingcalifornia.com