Los Angeles, CA — Today California Common Cause issued a letter to the Los Angeles City Council, urging leaders to create an independent redistricting commission. The letter highlights that the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission (LACCRC)’s members are appointed by city council offices and the final district maps will be approved by the City Council. This dynamic has led to extreme political interference, hindering the community-driven process the commission was created to foster.
“A redistricting process controlled by politicians behind the scenes is fundamentally flawed,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of California Common Cause. “Despite our repeated calls for greater independence and transparency, the City Council has willfully ignored those calls to ensure that they and their staff can continue to manipulate the process to their advantage. This dynamic will never serve the interests of the voters. It’s time for the City of Los Angeles to follow the state and the county and form a fully independent redistricting commission.”
In 2011, the Los Angeles City Council ignored the LACCRC’s 2011 Redistricting Report that reviewed the year’s redistricting cycle and outlined a set of recommendations to improve the process in the future. Again in 2020, the City Council ignored ten recommendations for an independent and transparent process compiled by a broad grassroots coalition of more than 25 organizations, including California Common Cause, ACLU SoCal, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, and many more.
Each of the ten recommendations would have prevented the very issues that created a flawed redistricting process this year. For example, the coalition recommended a ban on ex parte communications to prevent elected representatives and their staff from unduly influencing commissioners. To date, there have been more than 130 ex parte communications reported between commissioners, city council members, and their staff in the current process. This behind-closed-doors communication is the kind of activity the City Council originally created the LACCRC to prevent.
The coalition also recommended permitting Councilmembers to replace their appointed commissioners only for-cause, and with the approval of the rest of the commission. This was ignored, leading to repeated dark-of-night replacements of commissioners by Councilmembers. The commissioners who sat through public testimony and input are gone – political advocates now sit in their place.
Both the State of California and the County of Los Angeles have a completely independent redistricting commission.
To read the letter, click here.