What’s in a name? Everything! (Or…”Why LA’s City Council Redistricting is Important to YOU”)

Names are important to us – they carry much of our identity, and neither people nor places tend to change names often or without very good reasons for doing so. The same is true for the borders that define named places…like the borders of our city’s City Council districts, which at this very moment are undergoing their once-every-10-years review and re-drawing. For many people “redistricting” is a term that makes their eyes glaze over and the heads turn away. But this year, for residents of the Greater Wilshire area, the word “redistricting” is raising antennae and hackles for a variety of reasons.

First, redistricting this year is especially important to the area served by the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council because, while our historic borders (in some cases going back nearly 100 years) are Melrose on the north, Western on the east, Olympic on the South and La Brea on the west, this territory is currently split among three different City Council districts (4, 5 and 10), which makes it difficult to build relationships to deal with various city matters.

At last night’s GWNC meeting, there was a long discussion about the issue, and the council passed a resolution calling on the city’s Redistricting Commission to re-unify the area within the borders described above in a single city council district.

Another reason redistricting is very important RIGHT NOW is that Koreatown, our neighbor to the east, is also very actively campaigning to unify its area within one city council district (for the same reasons the GWNC is doing so). But while the city’s official border between Greater Wilshire and Koreatown is and always has been the middle of Western Ave., the Koreatown business community is pushing to draw the official western border of a unified Koreatown district at Arlington, Crenshaw…or even La Brea.

If you can, please contribute your voice to the redistricting process by going to http://www.redrawla.org which will allow you to draw a map of an area you’d like to see kept together within a city council district) or e-mailing the redistricting commission at redistricting.lacity@lacity.org to speak up in favor of maintaining a unified Greater Wilshire area – bordered by Melrose, Western, Olympic and La Brea – within one city council district as the new lines are drawn.

“Redistricting” may be a rather boring word…but uniting and maintaining our historic community, under its historic name, is of great interest to all of us.

[Update:  1/13/12, 5:00 p.m. — Koreatown business leaders confirmed this afternoon that the community is strongly advocating in the redistricting process that the western border of Koreatown remain at Western Ave., which aligns with the GWNC’s request.  For more on the redistricting process, see “Greater Wilshire and Koreatown Boundary Reuqests in Alignment” and “Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Needs Your Help at Wednesday Redistricting Meeting.”]

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

3 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Everything! (Or…”Why LA’s City Council Redistricting is Important to YOU”)

  1. Ms. Fuller,

    You apparently have not attended many of the pre-map public hearings held by the LA City Council Redistricting Commission. If you had, you would know that Chang Lee, the President of the Koreatown Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other community-based organizations in Koreatown have consistently advocated for uniting Koreatown, using the boundaries of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council. They have NOT advocated extending their boundaries east to Arlington or La Brea. The transcripts of the public hearings for CD 1, 4, 10 and 13 are available on the LA City Council Redistricting Commission’s website your review and confirmation. Please correct your article accordingly.

  2. Thanks for your response. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that the issues with the Koreatown boundaries have come up specifically at the redistricting hearings. You are correct that we have heard no such reports and that was not the intent of the statement in my article. This is not the only place the issue has come up, however. In fact, the GWNC has dealt with two very real boundary issues just in the last few months – the installation of Koreatown streetscape improvements on Olympic Blvd. west of Western Ave., and the boundaries of the proposed Koreatown sign district extending into GWNC neighborhoods in a couple of places as originally drawn. (And we all know how hard such things are to undo once they’ve been done by the city.) So the GWNC needs to make sure that all city agencies exhibit a universal acceptance of its historic boundaries, especially in the redistricting process. I am very glad to know that the organizations you list are on record and supporting the NC boundaries as currently drawn, and I hope our parallel efforts to keep our areas united in the redistricting process can proceed successfully – and peacefully! – with the Redistricting Commission.

    1. I think by reading your article people will have the impression that you are biased in your writing. So, hopefully no harm will be done. The line “But while the city’s official border between Greater Wilshire and Koreatown is and always has been the middle of Western Ave.” is misleading in that a reader would think that Western Ave. is the boundary. It’s not. District 4 extends east of Western, which is ridiculous as the demographics in that area support redistricting to District 10. You should be aware that the article is being used right now as a lighting rod by residents of Brookside to advocate a blanket disapproval of Koreatown’s efforts, which actually appear reasonable (assuming, for the record, they only seek to extend boundary to Western and not, Arlington or La Brea as claimed by the commenter above.) Ideally, the area in Crenshaw-Olympic-Muirfield- Wilshire, which sits in District 10 should be redrawn into District 4.

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