I’m writing today about a matter of great urgency—the redistricting of Los Angeles County supervisorial district boundaries. District lines need to be changed to equalize population and ensure compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act. But two redistricting plans have been proposed that would needlessly dismantle our Third District community, destroying decades of cooperation and jeopardizing our progress in the crucial areas of transportation, homelessness, land use and so much more.
Let me be clear: I believe strongly in the letter and spirit of the landmark Voting Rights Act, which over the decades has opened the halls of power to minority groups across the land. It requires that voting-age minorities who are citizens be given an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. I know we can create this district in good faith without resorting to gerrymandering tactics that would force an astonishing 3.5 million residents countywide into new districts while tearing apart communities with clear common interests.
Under one of the plans, called T1, the Third District would stretch southeasterly from Sylmar through Hollywood, Downtown, Boyle Heights, Florence-Firestone and into Lynwood. Most of the Westside and the South and West San Fernando Valley would be placed in another district.
Under the other plan, known as S2, the Third District would still include the south San Fernando Valley, the Westside and the Las Virgenes area. We’d lose the north and central Valley and gain the South Bay, Wilmington and Long Beach.
In either case, fully half the Third District’s current population would be shifted elsewhere, replaced by roughly the same number of residents who’d be new to the district. What’s more, both plans would carve up the San Fernando Valley for the first time among three supervisorial districts. (For links to the proposed maps and more insight into the redistricting effort, please read my recent blog here <http://zev.lacounty.gov/blog/seriously-crossing-the-line> .)
None of these changes would affect me personally. Because of term limits, I’m now serving my last term as a supervisor. I’m speaking out so that you, my constituents, will be best served in the years ahead by a redistricting process that is fair, responsible and consistent with the law.
It’s critical that you be heard now. I encourage you to attend and speak at the public hearing on these redistricting plans, to be held Tuesday, September 6, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 381 of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple Street, in downtown L.A. If you can’t attend, please communicate your concerns to the board members by e-mailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, I’ve listed a number of points and principles in which I strongly believe. Please feel free to let your views be known during your appearance before the Board of Supervisors or in your e-mails.
· The Voting Rights Act is a cornerstone of our democracy, which requires that we protect the voting rights of minorities. This can be accomplished without dismembering established communities of interest.
· Plans T1 and S2 would each move nearly 3.5 million people from one supervisorial district to another, destroying established relationships and seriously setting back progress on important community issues.
· The Third District unites three adjacent, interlocking communities of interest: the greater Westside, the San Fernando Valley and the Las Virgenes region, all of them bound together by the Santa Monica Mountain range. This region is topographically, geographically, economically and socially cohesive and compact. It should be kept together.
The two proposed plans would adversely impact the tremendous strides we’ve made in a variety of important areas, listed below. Again, please feel free to share your views on any of these issues.
Plans T1 and S2 would divide the San Fernando Valley into three supervisorial districts instead of two at present. This would be a serious setback for the Valley, which has fought hard to maintain its own identity.
Plans T1 and S2 could undermine the progress our region has made towards rapid transit and could threaten our ability to expeditiously complete the subway to the Westside and the Exposition Light Rail to Santa Monica.
Plans T1 and S2 threaten to reverse the pioneering and highly effective work we’ve done to combat homelessness in Hollywood, the Westside and the San Fernando Valley through permanent supportive housing
Health care for the uninsured
Plans T1 and S2 could undermine the network of public-private partnership clinics now serving the Valley, Hollywood and the Westside, potentially compromising health care access for thousands of uninsured residents.
The Third District includes some of the county’s greatest environmental and recreational resources, including Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Because of the district’s beautiful natural setting, its residents share an interest in resolving environmental problems. Keeping the mountains in a district that is compact and environmentally conscious will help ensure political leadership that is sensitive to these issues.
Plan T1 could easily disrupt social services networks. These networks include both public and private non-profit agencies that provide such wide-ranging services as mental health assistance, family preservation, CalFresh (formerly food stamps) and legal services for the poor. Plans T1 and S2 could quickly dismantle these partnerships, causing some of our most vulnerable residents to fall through holes in the safety net.
Plan T1 would remove three juvenile probation camps from the Third District, threatening the progress we’ve made in improving outcomes for incarcerated youth.
The Third District, as home to the entire Santa Monica Mountains range, is no stranger to natural disasters. Our communities have made huge strides in learning from, preparing for and guarding against wildfires, floods and other emergency conditions. Keeping the Santa Monica Mountains as the centerpiece of a compact district would help ensure political leadership that is sensitive to these issues.
Rivers and watersheds
The Third District includes a large portion of the L.A. River Watershed (in the Valley) and the North Santa Monica Bay Watershed. Keeping these together in one compact, environmentally conscious district would help ensure political leadership that understands the need to resolve watershed issues countywide.
As your neighbor and representative, I’d like to thank you in advance for helping to keep our Third District together. I hope to see you at the hearing on September 6. We need to make our presence felt and heard. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office at email@example.com.