Long Beach Redistricting Commission process relies on communities of interest – Press Telegram

Long Beach’s first constituency change committee has begun the process of redrawing the boundaries of the city council district. And we have already decided not to use the current boundaries as a starting point.

The Long Beach City Charter requires the city council district map to be recreated every 10 years after receiving the census results. In the past, the city council was responsible for it, and panel members set their own boundaries.

However, in 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure DDD and established an independent constituency change committee to remove the process from the hands of politicians. The bill added to the Charter a wording detailing how the committee was formed and the criteria used to create the district.

The Commission has the final say on the boundaries of the council. According to the Long Beach law firm, the only way to appeal the decision is to file a proceeding.

The committee consists of 13 members and 2 agents. Scheduled to be held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, but already more frequently, a series of “community of interest” outreach meetings are underway.

“We are the first committee,” said Panel Chair Alejandr Gutierrez. “We are creating a roadmap. It’s a big challenge. We are serious about obeying the Charter.”

Census issues

The basis of the Commission’s work is the requirement that all districts have approximately the same number of residents. The calculation relies on a census conducted every 10 years.

Census results are usually available by March 31 of the following year. However, the US Census Bureau has not yet released figures, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. The latest quote for the release is September 30th.

The state law, California’s Municipalities and Comprehensive Repartitioning Act, requires a 21-day waiting period after receiving the census figures, giving you time to investigate before drawing a line. Another law requires at least four subdivision map hearings before final approval.

“Therefore, IRC may not be able to start line drawing until at least mid-October,” said Kevin Jackson, deputy mayor and chief staff member of the committee, in a recent memorandum of the city council. “City Charter Section 2502 requires the IRC to approve the final map at least six months before the next primary election in order to apply it to the next election cycle.”

This rule applies to the June 7, 2022 primary — granting a committee until December 7 to complete the map.

On the plus side, Mr Jackson was given more time for the Commission to train and carry out outreach due to delays in census data. This includes the requirement that at least one meeting be held in all council districts.

Community of interest

The most commonly used phrase in the repartitioning process to date is “community of interest.”

It is the second and third on the standard list of the city charter. According to Gutierrez, bringing together the communities of interest is the Commission’s main goal.

Communities of interest can be based on a common language, culture, history, or shared identity. Ethnic groups, historic districts, etc. can also be considered communities of interest.

The Commission has not yet begun to draw boundaries, but it encourages interested communities to submit a map that brings everything together in one district. The Commission’s website also has map drawing tools currently available. longbeach.gov/redistricting..

“We want to hear from everyone who believes they are a community of interest,” Gutierrez said. “It can be based on social or economic interests. I want to hear about their problems.”

The reason behind bringing together the communities of interest is simple but important. Political power.

When they are together, such communities enhance their ability to elect representatives. However, as the community spreads across multiple constituencies, its capabilities diminish.

Cambodia Town

For example, consider the Cambodian population of Long Beach.

Long Beach has the highest concentration of Cambodians abroad, and most of its community is generally near Central Long Beach.

However, the Cambodian community is divided into several council districts. And until last year, Long Beach had no Cambodian-American residents in the city council.

Mayor Robert Garcia said in 2018 one of the motives for Major DDD was the lack of Cambodian representatives in the city council. A petition urging an independent constituency change committee circulated by a Cambodian community representative has collected over 3,000 signatures. It was submitted to the city council, which began the process of creating the Measure DDD and finally put the issue on the ballot.

On Wednesday, July 21, the Commission held an outreach meeting in the 6th Council District of Poly High School. District 6 is now represented by Cambodian-American Suri Salo, who defeated incumbent De Andrews in the 2020 Local Elections.

Several people who said they represented the Cambodian community testified at the meeting. Many Cambodian-Americans outside District 6 said they were disappointed that they could not vote for Salo.

Refugee Laura Som said she might have been able to unite the Cambodian community in 2010, but she did not.

“You have the power to negate this,” Som said. “We have established this committee for the purpose.”

However, Central Long Beach is one of the most diverse areas in the city. In short, conflicts of interest can complicate repartitioning efforts.

Senai Kenfe, the only black man to testify, said, for example, that the African-American community was afraid of being deprived of their rights.

“This is historically an African-American district,” said Kenfe. “We were here historically because we were isolated here. There was no district created for us.

“You may be wondering about your fairness,” he added. “I’m worried about being written out.”

However, most of the night was for Cambodian speakers. John Chen finally testified.

“Pol Pot divided us in the way he ruled us,” referring to the genocide that fled Khmer Rouge leaders and thousands of Cambodians from Southeast Asian nations. Said Chen. “We were forced to stay here to stay alive.

“You can’t change the Killing Fields,” he said. “But you can start healing.”

No one on the committee responded to any of the testimony during the meeting.

Current district line

In the past repartitioning process, the council used the current boundaries as the basis for change. This is one of the reasons why some boundaries appear to wander the entire map. But it has changed under Measure DDD.

The basic rules (equal population, adjacent boundaries) remain the same. Then there are eight more criteria, listed in order of priority.

  1. neighborhood;
  2. Communities of interest;
  3. Neighborhoods and communities that share a common language, history, culture and identity.
  4. Topography and geographic features;
  5. Boundary natural and artificial barriers.
  6. Compactness;
  7. Maintain the entire census block.When
  8. Other criteria approved by the Commission that are consistent with other requirements.

In another subdivision of the Constitution, the Commission should ensure that as many residents as possible do not see the change number of the current parliamentary district.

The Commission’s independent consultant, Restricting Partners Inc., means that you should read this section and use the core of every council district as the basis for the new map. When asked, the city law firm agreed.

A memo from the city’s law firm on April 15 states, “To the extent that it is consistent with other standards, a committee is needed to provide some continuity between the existing and new districts.” Said.

However, during the de facto April 21 meeting, the Commission resolved not to follow the recommendations. Then, on June 15, the Commission received a letter from the Common Cause and Equity for Cambodians again asking them to ignore current boundaries and create new districts based on the communities of interest. ..

Next step

Outreach meetings will continue directly and substantially, with the final meeting on Wednesday, July 28, in District 8.

The District 5 focused meeting will take place on Wednesday, August 4th, at 6:30 pm at McBride High School. There is no confirmed meeting place for a meeting in District 9 on August 11th or District 4 on August 18th.

Long Beach Redistricting Commission process relies on communities of interest – Press Telegram Source link Long Beach Redistricting Commission process relies on communities of interest – Press Telegram

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