The draft maps that will change the boundaries of Los Angeles City Council districts as part of the redistricting process have "inadvertent errors" throughout the city, including the proposal to remove parts of Westchester from City Councilman Bill Rosendahl's 11th District, the chairman of the redistricting commission said Thursday night during the second of seven public hearings on the proposed maps.
The hearing was held in a Westchester gymnasium packed with more than 500 people and Rosendahl was greeted like a champion boxer when he entered with a roar from the crowd, a standing ovation and chants of "Bill! Bill! Bill!" Many in the audience showed up specifically to protest the removal of Westchester from Rosendahl's district and some held signs saying "Westchester Playa del Rey CD11 WE ARE ONE."
Arturo Vargas, chair of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, early in the hearing at the Westchester Recreation Center addressed the concerns of the standing-room-only audience and acknowledged "imperfections" with the draft maps.
"We'll be very frank with everybody that the slip the draft maps had in Westchester was inadvertent," Vargas said. "There are also inadvertent errors in other parts of the city."
Rosendahl addressed the crowd after another nearly 30-second standing ovation and called the plans to remove Westchester from his district "crazy, crazy, crazy" and called the proposal an "insult" to the relationship between Playa del Rey and Westchester and said it raised particular concerns over Los Angeles International Airport issues.
Rosendahl circulated an online petition to keep Westchester in his district that has gained more than 2,000 signatures. He also said he had the support of fellow council members Bernard Parks, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson for keeping Westchester. Parks, Garcetti and Perry all attended the hearing and voiced their support for keeping Westchester in CD11.
Parks, Perry and Garcetti also acknowledged map shortcomings within their own districts. Parks, the former Los Angeles police chief whose 8th District covers primarily South Central Los Angeles, addressed the commission and said he hopes they also find an "inadvertent error" in his district. He specifically asked that Leimert Park, the longstanding hub of African-American arts culture in Los Angeles, remain in his district. Perry, whose 9th District covers the southern end of downtown, said the proposed maps would remove downtown from the rest of her South Los Angeles district along the 110 Freeway corridor. Garcetti said the proposed maps would have him living in another council member's district.
Other contested areas included Hollywood, with representatives of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce telling the commission that it should not split Hollywood Boulevard in half. The proposed maps call for dividing Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue with the north side of Hollywood Boulevard in Councilman Tom LaBonge's 4th District and the south side in Garcetti's 13th District.
"So the Kodak Theatre will be in one district and the Ripley's Believe It or Not would be in another," said Carol Massie, a Hollywood chamber board member who also runs a McDonald's in Hollywood. Entertainment events that entail closing Hollywood Boulevard would force event promoters to approach two council members and spend twice as much time and twice as much money on permits, Massie said.
Though Vargas told the audience that the removal of Westchester was an error, a steady stream of concerned residents nonetheless entered their objections on the record during the two-hour hearing. The common theme was that Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista are communities with common interests that share a neighborhood council, a chamber of commerce and a community plan and should not be separated. There also were concerns over LAX expansion, which Rosendahl has steadfastly opposed.
Denny Schneider, a Westchester resident who is also a member of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa and opponent of airport expansion, said the community would remain vigilant over the proposed maps.
"Don't disenfranchise us by separating us," Schneider said. "You said you're not going to, but we'll see at the end of the day whether that's true. We're not believing until the end. You've already had 15 meetings and we didn't see the results from those first 15, so we're watching."
Cyndi Hench, a Westchester resident and president of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa, said the commission took "some of her thunder" away by acknowledging its error. She said that she looked forward to seeing the maps fixed with CD11 boundaries of the Pacific Ocean to the west and the 405 Freeway to the east.
Vargas after the hearing said there were errors "all over the city" in the proposed maps and specifically cited Rosendahl's CD11, LaBonge's CD4 and City Councilman Paul Koretz's CD5. He said the errors were a result of trying to do something in one part of the city that effected other parts of the city.
The commission has scheduled seven public hearings over the proposed maps and the next one will be held Saturday at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. The commission will meet after the hearings and consider making changes to the draft map.
"It's an imperfect product and part of why we're holding seven hearings is to hear the problems," Vargas said.
The commission must submit its map to the City Council by March 1 and the City Council must approve it by July 1.
The redistricting process occurs every 10 years and leads to boundary changes to reflect population changes.