L.A. County Redistricting Heats up in The Santa Monica Mountains

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle      October 15, 2021

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L.A. County Redistricting Heats up in The Santa Monica Mountains
Los Angeles County’s Third Supervisorial District encompasses 431 square miles, stretching from the ocean to Los Feliz, and from Venice up to San Fernando. With nearly two million residents, the LA County Board of Supervisors Third District has a population larger than 14 states and Washington DC.
The Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission is strongly urged to retain all of the Santa Monica Mountains Communities completely within the Third District. For the first time in Los Angeles County’s history, an independent Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) will redraw the five Supervisorial districts for the next 10 years. In November 2008, California voters passed the Voters FIRST Act, taking the job of redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and transferring it to the citizens. After the 2020 Census, it is again time to draw district lines according to population. To accomplish this task on behalf of approximately 10 million County residents, the 14-member CRC will adopt supervisorial districts that are about equal in population—about two-million people per district—based on U.S. Census data. Other considerations are fairness regarding race and ethnicity; not splitting cities, neighborhoods and communities of interest (COI) and having compact districts. Districts shall comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the CRC may not draw districts to favor or disfavor political incumbents, candidates, or political parties. Mapping Criteria The challenge for the CRC is that the needs and interests of 88 cities and more than 100 unincorporated areas with diverse populations of ethnicities, races, and other demographic factors must be taken into consideration. The City of Los Angeles itself will need to be divided into two or more supervisorial districts, given its size of 3.9 million residents. Based on community input, Los Angeles City Neighborhood Councils and COIs want to remain whole as much as possible. According to the CRC website, the final map must be completed by December 15, 2021 in accordance with the following criteria: Districts will be reasonably equal in total resident population—about 2 million each. Districts shall comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). Districts must be geographically connected. Districts should be drawn so as to minimize dividing cities, neighborhoods, or communities of interest. The County Board of Supervisors will have no input or ability to alter the final district maps. Topanga’s Position Statement. The Topanga Town Council took the position to urge the Commission to “retain the status quo of the Third District to keep Topanga connected to the communities that touch its boundaries on all sides from the mountains to the coast. That requires preserving the Third District largely as it already exists. Such a plan would allow our town to be completely and firmly planted within the Santa Monica Mountains and greater Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) with whom we form a community of interest (COI). “Those communities share many of the same challenges and concerns, such as habitat and biodiversity conservation, tree preservation and watershed protection, as well as similar professional and recreational interests involving the mountain and coastal areas. They also share a profound interest in preventing wildfires, mitigating climate change, and preparing for emergencies. For all of these reasons, we encourage the Redistricting Commission to essentially preserve the integrity of the 3rd District, and Topanga’s place within it, as it has existed since 1991, 2001 and 2011.” (For more information, email: contact@topangatowncouncil.org; or onetopanga.com.) The Las Virgenes Homeowner’s Federation. The powerful Las Virgenes Homeowner’s Federation (LVHF) also submitted a letter to the Commission on behalf its more than 400 members: “The Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation, Inc., (LVHF) is the oldest and largest umbrella organization of communities and neighborhoods in the Western Santa Monica Mountains. We strongly advocate that our longstanding COI remain together in the same supervisorial district. It is essential to understand that the Unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains portion is divided into two inseparable, land-use policy areas—the Santa Monica Mountains Local Coastal Program (LCP) that encompasses 52,000 acres and the adjacent North Area Plan (NAP) which encompasses 22,000 acres. These two governing land-use policy documents are administered, implemented, and enforced by the L.A. County Department of Regional Planning—and are intentionally aligned. They are contiguous and adjoined to the five Council of Governments (COG )cities forming the compact COI.” “We [the LVHF] have been representing wildland mountain/coastal communities and thousands of stakeholders united in common and shared interest in this COI for more than 53 years. We respectfully ask the Commission to keep us together as one unique Community of Interest in a single Supervisorial District and that our West Hills Unincorporated Community remain with the COI as it is now as part of the Significant Ecological Area (SEA) and contiguous to the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve which is contiguous to the North Area and Calabasas and a natural part of the Santa Monica Mountains COI.” (For more information: lvhf.org) City of Calabasas Letter. James R. Bozajian, Mayor of the City of Calabasas also urged that “the Santa Monica Mountains communities be retained for regional integrity, shared open space, watershed, recreation, transportation, law enforcement, schools and water districts, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). “The unifying geographic feature of these five cities is their location at the foot of the SMMNRA. Coordination among these entities during emergencies is essential to coordinate a safe and prompt response and allow communication and evacuation to proceed in an orderly fashion. Numerous homes through this entire COG area are rural and keep livestock. Many of the roads are narrow or steep. This area creates a unique set of challenges. “Dividing Calabasas from Malibu or its other neighbors who are in the same fire risk hazard zone would leave Calabasas vulnerable to the risks that stem from fractured chains of commands and leadership. Maintaining the Las Virgenes COG in one district will help prevent these problems.” Get Involved and make an impact. If you are interested in attending meetings, writing letters or helping to create Los Angeles County Supervisorial District maps, go to https://redistricting.lacounty.gov. n
The Canyon Chronicle
      October 15, 2021

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