By ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo
Recent calls for placing Little Tokyo and Chinatown into the same City Council district caused some confusion following an Oct. 9 hearing of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission.
Individuals proposing the Little Tokyo-Chinatown grouping at the hearing identified themselves as members of the People’s Bloc, a multi-racial organization that, among other objectives, promotes inclusion of underrepresented groups and proposes solutions to the traditional redistricting process.
Erich Nakano, executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center, commented, “For LTSC, our partners in Chinatown have taken the position that they want Chinatown to be kept whole. They aren’t necessarily advocating for it to be combined with Little Tokyo, or to be included in CD14 necessarily, so we aren’t advocating for that either. We are supporting CD14’s push to keep Little Tokyo whole, and connected to Downtown, and to include Union Station.”
Currently, Little Tokyo is represented by Councilmember Kevin de Leon in District 14, which also includes most of Downtown Los Angeles as well as all or part of Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, El Sereno, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, and Monterey Hills.
Chinatown is represented by Councilmember Gil Cedillo of District 1, which in addition to most of Chinatown, encompasses Pico Union, Westlake, Elysian Park, Mount Washington, Victor Heights, Solano Canyon, and parts of Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and Glassell Park.
The desire for the two communities to remain separate albeit friendly neighbors was demonstrated in June 2018 when voters approved a plan to subdivide the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council into two distinct entities. The split subdivided the HCNC into two smaller neighborhood councils along the 101 Freeway with the northern communities of Chinatown, El Pueblo, Solano Canyon, and Victor Heights in a new Historic Cultural North Neighborhood Council (HCNNC), and Arts District and Little Tokyo in the ADLTNC.
In an Aug. 23 interview with **The Rafu Shimpo,** former City Councilmember Jan Perry, who represented Little Tokyo from 2001-2009, stated, “I think if (Little Tokyo) could come up with a united position, that would be helpful.”
This time around, Little Tokyo community leaders as well as those from Boyle Heights and Skid Row appear to be united around the idea of staying within the Downtown area, making the notion of combining Little Tokyo and Chinatown within the same council district unlikely.
The next hearing will take place Saturday, Oct. 16, at 10 a.m. via Zoom to gather input from the public about the draft redistricting maps.
Rafael Gonzalez, director of community outreach and engagement, notes, “The commission will take this feedback for purposes of finalizing and submitting the map to the City Council on Oct. 29.”