Asians Push to Consolidate Power On L.A. Council

Many residents want their neighborhoods to be kept whole.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission got an earful from the diverse reaches of Council District 1 during its Saturday, Jan. 7th redistricting meeting.

Hundreds of residents attended the meeting held in Chinatown at St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church.

While the district currently only includes a small portion of Koreatown, residents of the community turned out in large numbers to urge the commission to “unite” all of Koreatown in one district.

Koreatown is currently split between Council Districts 1, 4, 10 and 13. Several residents said the fact that not a single member on the city council is Asian, despite the city’s large Asian population, is evidence that the split has diluted their power and representation. The 2010 Census puts the Asian and Pacific Islander population at 15 percent.

A man who identified himself as a representative of the Little Bangladesh Improvement Association, a community located within Koreatown, also asked the commission to unite Little Bangladesh, currently split between two districts, as well.

The Asian communities in Lincoln Heights and Chinatown also called on the commission to keep their communities wholly within one district, and both communities in the same district.

While Lincoln Heights has long been a largely Latino community, the number of Asians, many of them Vietnamese, has increased substantially in recent years. In addition to their large Asian population, Chinatown and Lincoln Heights have many other similarities: The communities also share similar poverty rates, large immigrant and English-learner populations, one speaker said.

While discussion of creating a more solidly Asian district dominated the meeting, residents from other parts of the district, such as Northeast Los Angeles, also let the commission know what their ideal district should look like, at times disagreeing with others from their same neighborhood.

A resident of Glassell Park since 1965, Art Camarillo said Glassell Park should either be completely in CD 1 or 14, and not split into three districts — CD 1, 13, and 14 — as it is today.

Van De Kamp Coalition activist Laura Gutierrez, also of Glassell Park, said she would prefer Glassell Park not be in CD-1 because it’s the smallest of the three current districts currently dividing the neighborhood.

Highland Park resident Stanley Moore, on the other hand, has a different point of view. He was one of a handful of speakers who said having more than once council representative has its benefits. For example, it’s helpful to have financial support from three council members every year when area residents unite for the Peace in the Northeast March, which will be held for the fifth consecutive year this May, Moore said.

Similarly, community activist Jesse Rosas said Historic Highland Park should be “maintain[ed] as it is” in CD-14 and CD-1 because of the political support they get from having two council members supporting their goal to re-open the Southwest Museum.

Another Highland Park resident, however, called for keeping Highland Park whole, and in the same district as Eagle Rock.

Some residents verbally described the preferred boundaries of their neighborhoods, while others brought detailed maps to illustrate their maps preference. Residents can create their own maps at the commission website

Alicia Brown wants her small Solano Canyon neighborhood, one of the still surviving parts of Chavez Ravine, to remain in CD-1.

Echo Park, Pico Union, West Adams, Harvard Heights, and Arts District stakeholders also described problems with the current boundaries and asked to be tied to neighboring communities in one district or to be made whole.

Councilmember Ed P. Reyes, who currently represent the 1st Council District told EGP he thinks the meeting went well, and that a wide range of perspectives were presented by residents. “We’re hearing a sense of determination, in terms of how they define themselves,” he told EGP, noting that each sector of the district has it’s own point of view.

Former CD-1 councilmember Mike Hernandez was at the input meeting and acknowledged by more than one resident at the podium. CD-1 candidates Gil Cedillo and Reyes’ chief of staff Jose Gardea, both running to replace Reyes who is termed out, attended the meeting.

The 1st District currently includes the neighborhoods of Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Mount Washington, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Westlake, Angelino Heights, Lafayette Park, Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, and Pico Union.

The meeting was one of 15 public hearings held by the commission. The 21-person redistricting commission is tasked with redrawing the city’s 15 council districts by March 1, 2012. The final maps must be adopted by the city council by July 1, 2012, as required by the City Charter.

The commission’s main objective is to take into account the population changes in the 2010 Census when re-considering the boundaries of the districts. However, 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. The new maps will stay in effect until after the 2020 census.

For more information on upcoming meetings and the working timeline, visit

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January 12, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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