Redistricting in the News

Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Redrawn supervisor districts can't give L.A. County the representation it needs

December 21, 2021
LOS ANGELES -The new district lines for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took effect Wednesday, but it will be at least six more months and an election before it’s quite clear what they mean for the board’s direction. Backsliding from the county’s current progressive policies is among the possibilities, because the new districts improve the chances that candidates less interested in government reforms will be elected to the board. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, in a bitter and rueful letter to her constituents, predicted that the redrawn districts will result in an end to criminal justice reform. Let’s hope she’s wrong. The current board has done much to refocus county government on revamping the criminal system and injecting a measure of equity into healthcare, housing, economic development and other county services, which in California are the last and best resort for the most deprived and marginalized among us. Districts are redrawn every decade in response to new census data, to keep the power of each voter roughly equal by reshaping districts in response to population shifts. Voting rights laws also require districts that ensure racial and ethnic groups are not gerrymandered out of proportionate representation. In a county in which five supervisors represent more than 10 million people — the most egregious shortchanging of political representation of any local government in the nation — there are only so many ways to draw those lines while complying with the rules. Redistricting steps on toes, severs productive relationships and also, quite possibly, changes the political orientation of the board. It need not be that way. The problem with new boundaries that put, for example, the Hollywood Bowl and the Mojave Desert in the same district is not that the lines were drawn wrongly but that there aren’t enough of them. Supervisors with 2 million constituents apiece can pick and choose which of those residents to champion and which to ignore. They should have at most a third that many people to represent. Boundaries for smaller districts would not have to change nearly as much to ensure proper representation…