The Los Angeles City Council approved Wednesday a contentious redistricting plan for council district boundaries that drew promises of a lawsuit.
The new boundaries, which will remain in effect until after the 2020 census, were crafted over a period of about six months starting last fall by a 21-member commission appointed by elected city officials. The City Council made some changes to the plan, which were approved on a 13-2 vote.
The issue drew a display of hardball politics from City Council President Herb Wesson, who refused to allow about a dozen opponents of the plan to testify about their concerns, citing previous opportunities for the public to comment.
"Sometimes in life it's time to move on," Wesson said after the vote.
City Council members Jan Perry and Bernard Parks accused Wesson and other council colleagues of engaging in secret backroom deals to orchestrate the district boundaries to benefit themselves or members of their staffs who are running for City Council seats in March.
Parks charged that a home purchased by Councilman Paul Krekorian outside of his current district was intentionally included in his new district boundaries.
Krekorian called Parks' accusation"B.S." and "categorically wrong and untrue."
The home is being built in Studio City, which will be fully included in Krekorian's Council District 2, which also will include North Hollywood, Valley Village and parts of other neighborhoods. The previous district lines split Studio City into three districts.
"Councilmember Parks' accusation is completely and utterly baseless and 100% without merit," said Jeremy Oberstein, Krekorian's communications director, in an email to Patch. "The Councilman began work on his new Studio City home before the new lines were drawn by an independent commission and it was and will continue to be in CD2."
In fact, at the dedication of the Radford Art Walk last week, Krekorian talked about how his new neighborhood is just down the street from artist , which is squarely in Colfax Meadows, the heart of Studio City.
Perry attended the Studio City Neighborhood Council meeting Wednesday night to talk about her candidacy for mayor next year, and she brought up the redistriciting vote. "I know that you all are happy about how it worked out for you, but I wished it was the same outcome for other parts of the city," Perry said. "I just have to tell you, the whole process stank to holy hell. You can quote me on that, it stank!" (The statement met with applause and nods of agreement from some of the board members whoin one district.)
Parks also claimed that the homes of Councilmen Ed Reyes' Chief of Staff Jose Gardea and Jose Huizar's former Chief of Staff Ana Cubas were moved into districts where they intend to run for seats on the City Council.
Cubas also called Parks' accusation nonsense.
"There is no truth to any lines being drawn to move me into the (9th) district, because I will be moving on July 1. So that's nonsense," Cubas said, adding that her campaign committee is registered with the Ethics Commission to an address in the 9th District that Parks might have confused for her home.
The move prompted the opponents -- a coalition of pastors and bishops from South Los Angeles and members of Korean American groups -- to march to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office to lodge their complaints and urge him to veto the plan.
Blocking public testimony in opposition to the plan added "insult to injury," Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez said. "I feel like I'm living in the times of El Conquistador."
Villaraigosa intends to sign the plan into law, an aide said.
Critics argue the new district boundaries create disproportionately poor districts in South Los Angeles.
A coalition of Korean American groups opposed the split of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council. The groups wanted the Koreatown neighborhood to be moved into a district with Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown. Instead, the neighborhood council was split, with the financial center moved into Wesson's district.
Korean American Coalition Executive Director Grace Yoo said two law firms -- Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg -- agreed to take the case pro bono.
Candidates must live in the districts where they plan to run 30 days before filing a petition to run for office.
Parks and Perry are upset about losing valuable portions of their districts in the redistricting process. Perry lost a significant portion of downtown Los Angeles, which has seen a renaissance in recent years, to Council District 14.
Parks lost the University of Southern California, which was moved into Perry's neighboring 9th District.
The two council members had previously vowed to sue to block the plan, but said today it would be inappropriate for sitting council members to sue the city.