The California Citizens Redistricting Commission on Friday released new maps altering the boundaries for state Assembly, state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives districts that will change the makeup of some Westside constituencies.
The commission voted 13-1 Friday to approve the draft maps for the state Legislature and 12-2 to approve the California congressional districts. The preliminary final maps are now available for public review and the commission is scheduled to vote on final adoption of the maps Aug. 15.
It is the first time in California history that an independent citizens commission has drawn district boundaries. The commission was created after voters in November 2008 passed Proposition 11, the Voters First Act. The commission is comprised of 14 members from various ethnic backgrounds and geographic locations and includes five Democrats, five Republicans and four who decline to state a party preference.
"When California voters created the Citizens Redistricting Commission, their hope was that an independent panel could and would draw fair district lines in a transparent process and end the partisan gerrymandering of the past. We as a commission are here to tell you that day is here," said commission chairwoman Connie Galambos Malloy during a press conference.
Malloy said the commission tried to engage with the public and held 34 hearings and received more than 20,000 written comments.
"It was no secret as to how the commission drew the lines," Malloy said. "It was a completely open and transparent process."
That said, Malloy noted that the commission expected legal challenges to the maps and has retained its staff in case a legal defense is required in the coming weeks.
Hal Dash, chairman of Los Angeles-based public policy consultanting firm Cerrell Associates, said the new maps should keep the Democratic majority intact in the state Legislature and 53-person Congressional delegation, the largest in the nation.
Dash said he expected Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) to run for the coastal West Los Angeles seat that now runs from Malibu to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
"It's still going to be a Democratic area," Dash said. "Waxman is a great fundraiser and he won't have a tough race, it's just a new constituency. He'll have to spend some time meeting and greeting new people, which he hasn't had to do in years."
West Hollywood is currently represented by Waxman, alongside Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Pacific Palisades and Topanga. But under the new proposal, Weho's district would extend as far east as Downtown Los Angeles.
Michael Shires, an associate professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, said the new maps are expected to have a critical role in the next election in the balance and control of Congress, and next year’s budget cycle.
Shires also said he expects to see efforts to put the maps to a referendum. He said the most likely challenges may be from Republicans, or on the basis of ethnic representation.
African-American and Latino populations have shifted significantly in recent decades, making it more difficult to draw representative maps.
“Today’s action is the next step in the process but it is by no means final,” Shires said.
Shires added that the 1990 redistricting process is seen as the “fairest” redistricting of late — and those maps were drawn by judges after a referendum.
He said that could happen again this year.
“There are a lot of organized interest groups out there with resources that are concerned about this set of maps,” Shires said. “Through the referral process or through the litigation process, these maps may still be redrawn by a panel of judges.”
Ironically, some of the main voices calling for the new process in the first place are now the most unhappy, he added.
For more Patch coverage of the LA County redistricting process:
Check the maps attached to this story to see where West Hollywood falls in the newly drawn state Legislature and Congressional District maps.