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CD-14 Residents Define Their Common Interests

Los Angeles’ redistricting commission met Tuesday in Boyle Heights, where they heard from residents and business owners in Council District 14 about what they think the district should look like following the redistricting process.

The 21-person commission is tasked with redrawing the city’s 15 council districts by March 1, 2012, and the final maps must be adopted by the city council by July 1, 2012, as required by the City Charter.

Tuesday’s meeting at the Boyle Heights Senior Center is one of 15 public hearings — one per council district—being held by the commission.

During the hearing residents expressed what they liked and didn’t like about the current district borders. Some complained that neighborhoods such as Rose Hills, and business corridors like York Boulevard, are currently split between districts.

Ryan Ballinger, owner of The York in Highland Park, said the front of his business is in one district while the back is in another.

Gema Marquez said Highland Park should be made whole, but Jesse Rosas said he wants Highland Park to continue being represented by both CD-1 and CD-14, noting Councilman Ed Reyes’ commitment to reopening the Southwest Museum. Reyes represents the first council district, and is termed out; Jose Huizar currently represents CD-14.

Several residents of Boyle Heights spoke in favor of having closer ties to Downtown Los Angeles.

Homeowner Juaquin Castellanos said CD-14 looks like it has been purposely stratified by income. “We are not East LA, we should get everything downtown is getting. We should be middle class …” he told the commission.

While community activist Teresa Marquez wasn’t completely in favor of Boyle Heights being lumped together with downtown, she did say Latinos are segregated in CD-14, which is to their detriment since they have a low level of civic participation.

Activist Jose Aguilar asked about Tom LaBonge’s interest in annexing the Whiteside Biomedical Corridor. He feels LaBonge’s informal proposal could affect the borders of the city, but he was told the item was not part of the discussion.

Several Downtown property owners spoke in favor of being part of CD-14 and Huizar’s continued leadership. But Richard Zaldivar of The Wall-Las Memorias, and a former staff member to Art Snyder, said in the past CD-14’ s identity was primarily based on a Northeast L.A. perspective—with communities such as Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights.

He said Downtown has nothing in common with Northeast, which has more areas of common interests.

“When you are looking at anything at all in keeping the identity and culture of the 14th district, [Downtown] disembowels and takes the voice and the vote away from the people of the Northeast side of Los Angeles. This is ridiculous, the 14th district should be north to south, anything east of the LA River,” he said.

After the meetings conclude in early January, the commission will tour the city to observe the issues brought up during public hearings, according to Redistricting Commission Chair Arturo Vargas.

While the commission must re-consider the boundaries of the districts to account for the population changes in the 2010 Census, they must also abide by several legal criteria, including: the Equal Population Principal to ensure “One-Person, One-Vote;” The U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause that states race cannot be used as a predominant factor; The Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prohibits gerrymandering and Traditional Redistricting Criteria such as contiguity, compactness, existing boundaries, and communities of interest.

Once the hearings conclude, the commission will receive an aggregate copy of all the public comment, which will also be made available to the public, LA Redistricting Commission Executive Director Andrew Westall told EGP.

Once new draft maps are created, a second round of regional hearings will be held to solicit comments from the public, Westall said. Those meetings will take place in late January to early February and the CD-14 meeting will likely be located in the Northeast LA area, he said.

The new maps will stay in effect until after the 2020 census.

The public hearing in Council District-1 will be held at 11a.m. on Jan. 7, 2012 at St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church: 1039 N. Broadway, 90012.

For more information, visit http://redistricting2011.lacity.org/.