The Los Angeles City Council approved new maps this morning for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Member Districts. The Council made some changes in what was approved by members of the appointed LAUSD Redistricting Commission.
The configurations of Northeast Los Angeles’ two districts, District 5, currently represented by Bennett Kayser, and District 2, currently represented by Mónica García, have been redrawn
Atwater Village, split in two between Kayser’s District 5 and Steve Zimmer’s District 4 on the maps approved by the Redistricting Commission, will be united in District 5 instead. The area will be joined with its neighboring communities of Griffith Park, Los Feliz and Glassell Park.
Marshall High School will continue to be in District 5 as will all of the elementary and middle schools that feed into it. The Redistricting Commission had proposed moving it to District 4. The move back to District 5 was requested separately by Councilmember Tom LaBonge, by Council President Herb Wesson, by Kayser and by speakers at public hearings. The change was not contested by Zimmer. The Zoo Magnet School in Griffith Park will also move back to District 5.
Most of Cypress Park is being moved from District 2 to District 5. In the Redistricting Commission Minority Report, Kayser’s appointee to the commission, Mark Lewis, said that he had been told by commission staff that District 2 Board Member García wanted that change made, but the mapping contractor had forgotten. In approving mapping revisions from Wesson’s office this morning, the City Council without comment moved the neighborhood to Kayser’s district.
Under Wesson’s mapping, the rope that ties the Northeast Los Angeles communities located in the north of District 5 to the Southeast Cities located in the south of District 5 has been returned to looking much like it has for the past decade, forming a backward C against the eastern border of LAUSD. The commission had moved it west, where it was to snake through and bisect a number of communities. However, the City Attorney’s office had expressed concerns about that configuration in light of the City’s legal mandate to create compact districts.
The realigned connector means less splits for communities LAUSD-wide, but it creates splits for Hermon and El Sereno. The City Attorney’s Office believes the adjusted mapping to be legally defensible.
Wesson’s mapping results in less splits within high school attendance zones. It brings the Asian Pacific Islander communities of Koreatown, Filipinotown, Chinatown, and Little Tokyo together in one district—with much of Northeast Los Angeles in District 2.
Councilmember Bernard Parks, meanwhile, attempted to resurrect draft district maps that had received considerable community support during public hearings conducted by the Redistricting Commission. According to Parks, the earlier plan had been supported by 60-65% of speakers at public meetings. That mapping had been replaced when the commission received a new set of maps at 2 a.m. on the day of its final vote. Those replacement maps–with changes–are what the City Council approved today. Parks was joined by only Councilmember Jan Perry is voting to bring back the earlier maps.
“The process [on the part of the Redistricting Commission] somewhere went off the track,” said Parks.
The most organized commentary on the LAUSD maps throughout the public hearing process has come from InnerCity Struggle, an 18-year old education advocacy organization. InnerCity Struggle wants to see the Eastside—which Executive Director Maria Brenes defines as El Sereno, East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and Montecito Heights—in one district.
“Our position is one Eastside, one Board of Education seat,” said Benes at this morning’s City Council Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee hearing.
InnerCity Struggle had its wishes met to a large extent within District 2, but it still must contend with splits caused by the bridge between the northern and southern sections of District 5.
LAUSD is divided into seven board districts, with each board member representing on average 648, 733 residents. The redrawing of district boundary lines is mandated every 10 years in light of new census data. The City Council is required to approve districts that are of close to equal population and are compact. They are required to keep communities of interest together to the extent possible.