By Bill Hendrickson
Northeast Los Angeles is one small corner of L.A. But NELA residents, especially Eagle Rockers, dominated a citywide meeting on Sept. 13 of the L.A. City Council Redistricting Commission, the group that is charged with re-drawing L.A.’s city council maps in accordance with public testimony and new census data.
About half of some 40 commenters at the meeting were Eagle Rockers, all of whom made the same overarching points: In brief, the speakers told the redistricting commission to keep all of Eagle Rock in Council District 14 and to unite the eastside communities of Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Boyle Heights and El Sereno in CD 14. (Some of the commenters also said that Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights should be wholly grouped into CD 14).
The Eagle Rockers were echoed by about 10 commenters from Highland Park who said they wanted Highland Park to be placed in CD 14. Currently Highland Park is partly in CD 14 and partly in CD 1.
Many commenters from Eagle Rock and Highland Park said they favored CD 14 because they found CD 14 City Councilmember Kevin de León and his staff to be effective and helpful. A big reason given for wanting to group several eastside communities into CD 14 is that they share a history and identity as Arroyo Seco communities.
A handful of commenters from Glassell Park told the commission that their community should be wholly placed in one city council district. Currently, Glassell Park is balkanized among CD 1, CD 13 and CD 14. The commenters generally favored placement in CD 13, a grouping that would place Glassell Park with other L.A. River communities, such as Atwater Village and Elysian Valley.
Eagle Rock dominates the meeting
Eagle Rockers who spoke up at the meeting brought up policy reasons for wanting to stay in CD 14.
Some of them said that infrastructure projects currently in process in Eagle Rock could be disrupted if all or part of the community was moved into a new council district with a new councilmember. Among the speakers making this point were Michael MacDonald and Greg Merideth, two prominent supporters of a proposal under consideration by Metro to reduce Colorado Boulevard to one car lane each way to make room for dedicated bus lanes and enhanced bike lanes. Other infrastructure projects currently in process in Eagle Rock include safety and beautification efforts on the boulevards.
Other commenters from Eagle Rock said that local efforts to combat homelessness could be jeopardized if Eagle Rock did not remain wholly in CD 14. These commenters included activists Jane Demian and Chris Bertolet. The major anti-homelessness effort currently underway in Eagle Rock and Highland Park is the establishment of “tiny home” villages for the homeless championed by De León as part of his broader plan to end homelessness in L.A.
The commentary from Eagle Rock and nearby communities made an impact. Sonja F. Diaz, the redistricting commissioner appointed by De León, said that the robust commentary from Eagle Rock and other Arroyo Seco communities was “clear and persuasive to me.”
Meeting and hearings on redistricting
The meeting on Sept. 13 was one of many that have been and will be held by the L.A. City Council Redistricting Commission. Its purpose was to present reports from the commission’s four ad hoc regional committees, which were charged with doing a preliminary analysis of the information that will ultimately determine how the new city council maps are drawn.
The report on Region 2, which includes NELA’s Council Districts 1, 13 and 14, was a one-page memo. (The reports for the other regions were more detailed.) Commenters from NELA criticized the thinness of the Region 2 report while using it as springboard to express what they think redistricting should accomplish.
For details on upcoming commission meetings and public hearings, click here.