After many months of deliberations the L.A. City redistricting Commission turned in (with some relief it is assumed), their final draft map for the City Council approval of the proposed new boundaries for the 15 districts that comprise our City Council. The Echo Park/Elysian Park area, had initially survived unscathed with no boundary changes. That was, of course, until the March 1 “final” version was sent to the City for approval by the distraught Redistricting Commission.
What changed? Well, oddly, some “scrivener” went “etch a sketch” on the final map and for the first time in the redistricting process, altered the lines that have defined the division of Districts 1 and 13 for the last ten years. A small swath of Echo Park south of Sunset, mainly City Parking Lot 663, along with buildings between Park Ave. and Sunset from Logan St. to Echo Park Ave., were moved into CD1. More strikingly a huge swath of Elysian Park and it’s adjacent western boundary neighbors, were swept into CD1.
What was the perceived impact and why any objections? After much discussion prior to the March 7 Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park (CCSEP) meeting, the Steering Committee voted to solicit CD 1 and 13’s help in restoring the existing boundary that naturally follows Stadium Way from Riverside Dr., and then along Elysian Park Dr. until it reaches Lilac Terrace.
Why did this make sense? Largely the impact would have been felt by the Council Offices themselves. Until this proposed divide, the park was geographically divided so that constituents living adjacent to the West were in CD 13 and Constituents to the East were in CD 1.
With the proposed change constituents on the west would reside in CD 13 but the Park they lived adjacent to would now be wholly in CD 1 and those requests for constituent services would now go through CD 1 only, tapping already stretched resources by putting all of the stakeholder needs in one District. This was seen by many (including both council offices) as a negative. CCSEP quickly organized a community letter writing campaign to both elected offices, the filing of Impact statements in the official Council file 11-0187-S3, and the amendment was proposed prior to the midnight March 8 deadline for proposed changes.
The item was scheduled for a vote March 16, and at least in regards to the amendments, prevailed with no contention (much can be read about the not so happy Council members and stakeholders in other districts!). The restored boundaries are on track to be reinstated with the final adoption of the redistricting issues.
Moral of the story?
Well organized and executed political engagement with sensible, thought out proposals can and often do prevail, when “we the people” are unified in our strategy. Having two Council Districts, working together for the benefit of one community is also a plus!
Thanks to the city staffers who were active in the process, and, congratulations Echo/Elysian Park residents who took the time to engage for a positive change.