The Los Angeles City Council today tentatively approved two redistricting plans -- one each for City Council and Board of Education districts -- in the face of threatened lawsuits from two council members and Koreatown community groups.
The council voted, 12-2, on first reading in favor of an ordinance to enact the maps with new boundaries for City Council and Los Angeles Unified School District board voting areas.
Council members Jan Perry and Bernard Parks opposed the council map, alleging that changes had been made to district boundaries without explanation or approval by the council. Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller said no changes were made to the map approved by the council in March.
Opponents of the new council district boundaries accuse Wesson of secretly orchestrating an effort to turn his Mid-City district into a majority-black voting district by influencing the 21-member citizens redistricting commission. The federal Voting Rights Act requires a study to justify race-motivated redistricting, a study opponents contend was never done.
Wesson has denied trying to influence the process.
"To suggest that one person, me, could influence a 21-member commission and a 15-member council, in my view, is kind of insulting to these ... independent thinkers," Wesson said in March.
Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council President Andrew Westall was appointed to be the City Council Redistricting Commission's executive director. Westall was a longtime aide to Wesson.
See more on the redistricing issue in the North Hollywood-Toluca Lake area:
Parks and Perry, upset by how the council carved up their districts -- Perry lost much of downtown and Parks lost the University of Southern California -- threatened earlier this year to sue in order to block the new boundaries from taking effect.
The new district boundaries will place the NoHo Arts District into CD2 and out of CD4, while Toluca Lake and the other Tolucan neighborhoods will remain in CD4.
A coalition of Korean American groups -- the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, Korean American Bar Association and Korean American Democratic Coalition -- were also unhappy with the City Council district boundaries and also vowed to sue.
The groups wanted Koreatown to be moved into a district with Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown. Instead, the areas were moved into City Council President Herb 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.
Deputy City Attorney Harit Trivedi told the council that the map was legally defensible. Though no lawsuits have been filed, the council voted, 14-0, to hire the law firm of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell to represent the city if it is sued.
Chief Assistant City Attorney Pete Echeverria told the council that outside counsel was necessary because of the "specialized and esoteric" nature of redistricting law. A lawsuit challenging the city's once-a-decade redistricting process has not been filed in more than 20 years, Echeverria said.
The new map will come up for a second and final vote next Wednesday.