As the Los Angeles City Council invites public discussion on redrawing its district boundaries, one group is advocating for a district committed to its LGBT constituents.
The founding L.A. chapter of the nation’s preeminent gay GOP group, the Log Cabin Republicans, is pushing for the City Council's Redistricting Commission to create a council district that would cover Silver Lake to West Hollywood to Studio City—areas that historically have had a higher concentration of gay residents.
“Grouping together communities with common interests is one of the guidelines for redistricting,” said Scott Schmidt, a Log Cabin spokesperson. “Creating a gay district would help make sure gay interests are represented.”
Every 10 years, the L.A. City Council districts are redrawn to account for population changes, with the goal of creating 15 council districts of equal population. The Redistricting Commission takes into consideration the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as geographic boundaries and communities with shared interests.
The area between Silver Lake, West Hollywood and Studio City is currently divided among three different council districts. “When you divide the gays into three council districts," said Schmidt, "no one is going to look after their issues completely."
Schmidt believes the formation of district with a large gay constituency would force council members to take “ownership” of gay issues.
The current L.A. City Council has openly gay 11th District Councilman Bill Rosendahl and 5th District Councilman Paul Koretz, who is familiar with issues affecting gay constituents, having previously served on the West Hollywood City Council. Term limits will eventually force them out of office.
Hard data on exactly where gays live is not available because the 2010 Census did not ask any questions about LGBT households, but the designated area that includes Silver Lake, West Hollywood and Studio City has tended to have greater numbers of gay residents and gay business owners.
Schmidt said if the Redistricting Commission needs a sampling on gay households, it can look at voter registration files or domestic partner registrations. However, he admits that data would also be “imperfect” since coupled gays are less likely than single gays to live in denser areas.
From a West Hollywood perspective, Schmidt said it would be easier for West Hollywood City Hall to have dealings with one single L.A. City Council office. Currently, two L.A. districts border West Hollywood: the 4th District, represented by Tom LaBonge, and the 5th District, represented by Koretz.
The Redistricting Commission will hold public hearings through Feb. 11. The commission is scheduled to present its final recommendation for the redrawn districts to the L.A. City Council on March 1. The council is expected to vote on the new districts in July.