Redistricting changes for South LA one step closer

imageAfter what turned into a nine-hour-long meeting on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Redistricting Commission has moved one step closer to solidifying major changes to the city’s council districts, including those in South Los Angeles.

The commission voted Wednesday night to move the Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills area out of Councilman Bernard Park’s 8th District, and into District 10, represented by City Council President Herb Wesson.

Additionally, Councilwoman Jan Perry lost most of Downtown Los Angeles from her 9th District, including the financial district, Little Tokyo and the Civic Center. Under the new boundaries, District 9 retains only the Staples Center and L.A. Live.

The commission also moved the University of Southern California out of Park’s district and into Perry’s.

All of these moves, which were opposed by the majority of public comment at Wednesday night’s meeting, could serve to further impoverish South Los Angeles, said David Roberts, the 9th District’s representative on the commission.

“It becomes more difficult, especially in the case of Downtown, opportunities to leverage resources from a more affluent, wealthier (area) to south of the 10 Freeway,” said Roberts, who opposed the changes to Districts 8 and 9.

In short, by losing Downtown, Perry’s district becomes one of the poorest districts in the city and will no longer be able to afford much of the redevelopment she has been able to accomplish in the past.

One such example is the South Los Angeles Wetlands Park that opened last week, which was funded in part by resources generated from Downtown, Roberts said.

The case is similar in District 8, which is losing its most thriving economic area to District 10.

“(Leimert Park and Baldwin Vista) are the wealthiest parts of the district … not only economically, but politically too because this is where the Black middle class is,” said Earl Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. “So you’re essentially lopping one of the parts of the district that has economic and political clout.”

Blighted communities in South Los Angeles, in both the 8th and 9th districts, are at great risk for losing resources that fund not only redevelopment of the area but social programs, as well.

“I think there is reason for deep concern on the part of the elected officials and constituents in these areas,” Hutchinson said. “The greatest concern is that we in fact will be even further marginalized at City Hall. Our needs, our wishes have not been taken into consideration by the commission.”

In an ideal world, communities like South Los Angeles, should benefit from where district lines are drawn because resources are allocated evenly, giving underserved communities a greater voice, which is crucial now that the Community Redevelopment Agency has been closed down.

“The CRA used to take care of the issues of blight and poverty, but those tools don’t exist anymore to improve the quality of life for those very vulnerable residents,” Roberts said. “And South LA is where those issues are most acute.”

The map approved last night will be available online Saturday. The next schedule hearing is Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. at Los Angeles City Hall.

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