New political districts to be announced Friday

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City officials fear Malibu could lose its political voice if current maps stay the same.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

The final maps for California’s new political districts will be released Friday, with potentially major consequences for Malibu.

In the latest state Senate and state Assembly district drawings, Malibu is separated from nearby cities that share key priorities related to transportation, education and the environment. City officials fear Malibu would struggle to make its political voice heard in the state capitol if it remains divided from its sister cities and is placed within a much larger district.

“If we end up’Malibu at 13,000′ in a district of 900,000, what kind of influence do we have? What kind of voice would we have?” Malibu Mayor John Sibert said.

Redistricting occurs once every 10 years as state political districts are redrawn following the U.S. Census. This year, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, a panel of five Republicans, five Democrats and four not affiliated with either party, is drawing the lines. The final maps will be announced Friday for public review with final adoption slated for Aug. 15.

Malibu has historically been in the same Senate and Assembly districts as other cities in its Council of Governments (COG). Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills and Westlake Village. The COG cities, along with Santa Monica and the Pacific Palisades, work together on environmental issues related to the Santa Monica Mountains watershed, which empties into the ocean, primarily in Malibu. They also share the transportation corridor formed by the 101 and 405 freeways, Pacific Coast Highway and the canyon roads that connect them. Although Senate districts contain more than 900,000 citizens, Malibu city officials say the smaller COG cities have made their priorities heard in Sacramento by presenting a united message on important issues.

However, that could change if the latest drawings are not altered. Malibu is separated from the other COG cities in the latest Senate district map, cities that have been grouped together with inland cities such as Santa Clarita and Moorpark. In the latest Assembly district map, Westlake and Agoura Hills stay with Malibu, but Calabasas and Hidden Hills are once again grouped with inland cities in the San Fernando Valley.

Sibert said no one he has spoken to in the other cities likes the maps.

“We have no real relationship to the current county line and Santa Clarita,” Sibert said. “The issues are entirely different.”

The redistricting commission is instructed to assemble 40 state Senate districts with populations as close to 931,349 as possible. The state’s 80 Assembly districts should target 465,674 people.

Sibert fears the commission, after placing larger inland cities, may have dispersed the small COG cities to different districts to make up the population numbers. That would be a mistake, he said. Sibert said the commission is also supposed to take into account “communities of interest” ‘shared priorities when drawing the maps.

“This is really a community of interest, this watershed and this part of Santa Monica Bay,” Sibert said.

Sibert has written three letters to the commission and spoken at two of its regional meetings in Van Nuys and Oxnard to advocate keeping COG cities together. He flew to Sacramento Friday last week to plead one last time for the commission to retain the COG cities as a unit, but was only allowed to speak for one minute.

“Back in my jazz group playing days, we used to call this a long ride for a short slide,” Sibert said of the trip. “But it’s important to do that.”

Kim Lamorie, president of the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation, spoke before the commission Thursday last week with the same message.

“I’m concerned about it,” Lamorie said. “We’ve been told they’re not going to make major map changes … If they make anything, it’s going to be small tweaks.”