Letters to the Editor: A new L.A. council district map that makes sense? Yes please.
The Los Angeles City Council will consider adopting a new district map designed to reduce the number of majority-black districts throughout the city.
The measure is called Measure H and it will be considered by those with power to override a mayoral veto. The city’s current map had been drawn around the 1960 L.A. city charter, in which districts were determined by geographical contiguity and were made up of a minimum number of voters.
The new district map would put more power in the hands of city supervisors, who would be asked to draw up districts that reflected L.A.’s ethnic make-up. It would give those supervisors, for the first time, the power to make districts that “reflect” a community.
“Measure H is a welcome step in the right direction,” said Councilman Bernard Parks. “It recognizes that ethnic groups in particular have been underrepresented in the council.”
At the same time, however, the new measure is only the first step in a long, very complicated process.
At a minimum, the city needs to amend the city charter to make clear that the new district map cannot be vetoed by the mayor. Other steps would be necessary, including negotiating with school districts and religious organizations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who would like to be placed in their own districts.
The council could also enact a plan that would distribute representation among the districts, with each district having the same number of seats in each city council district but with different numbers of the members of each council district. That would be done by requiring that each district receive a proportional number of seats based on its percentage of the population of the city, rather than its percentage of the total population of the city. Such a plan would require some modification of the city charter to make it a reality in the future, but it would be feasible and would make a much-deserved break with the past.
This is not the first time city governments have tried to bring more light to the district map. In 1975, for example, the city tried