For the first time, maps were re-drawn based on the 2016 state law making LA County the only county in the state required to have an independent redistricting commission
Special to The Malibu Times
The LA County Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission adopted new County Supervisor boundary maps on Wednesday, Dec. 15, after a year of meetings and public comment sessions. The new supervisorial district boundaries reshaped local representation for LA County’s 88 cities, 125 unincorporated communities, and millions of residents.
“I want everyone to understand that the last few days of work by the Commission resulted in a manipulated and rushed adoption of last-minute, wrenching and unscrutinized changes to the redistricting map that grab and mix unrelated outlying geographic sections in order to homogenize political populations in the Third and the Fifth [districts]; and will likely result in less effective representation of the districts’ diverse populations,” Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Malibu’s representative, was quoted as saying on the LA County website.
Every ten years, after the results of the U.S. Census are in, California re-draws its districts for State Senate, State Assembly, and U.S. Congress. Locally, LA County Supervisor districts are also re-drawn; and for the first time, it was done by an independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission (CRC), created by a state law passed in 2016.
The day after the new LA County Supervisor district maps were adopted by the new independent Commission, Kuehl’s office released a statement lambasting the 2016 law and the new redistricting process with an email to her newsletter subscribers titled “What the *^%#*} Happened?”
“Five years ago, a handful of cardboard Democrats in the California Legislature (think of them as the Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Sacramento) brought a bill to impose an independent redistricting commission on just one of the 58 counties in California—ours,” Kuehl’s office wrote.
“Of course, everyone thought it sounded like good government. After all, the LA County Redistricting Commission would be comprised, by design, of folks with no political drive or connection, little understanding of map drawing, and no contact with electeds. What could possibly go wrong?” Kuehl continued.
Following a dutiful year of meetings and public input, Kuehl accused the Commission of pulling a fast one at the last minute.
“As the Dec. 15 deadline drew nearer and nearer, meetings continued, and consensus was built. The focus of the final consideration was narrowed down to just two maps. Then, suddenly, [the weekend before Dec. 15], after all, public comment had concluded, one Commissioner introduced a new, previously unseen and unconsidered map, totally different from the two finalists, especially in its redistricting of the northern part of the County, the districts now represented by myself and Supervisor Barger.”
“Commissioners were suddenly convinced to abandon communities of interest, all intelligent considerations of months past, and hours upon hours of public comment,” Kuehl wrote. “The Third District, which I represent, would extend…out to Chatsworth and up to Porter Ranch…and despite critical public comment just hours before the deadline…the Commissioners voted to approve [it].”
“The result of this last-minute marauding is that my District becomes far more centrist…a much easier district for a man who’s been salivating to run for the office but found himself in need of an electorate more closely tailored to his politics…”
“As the New York Times pointed out [recently], the ultra-conservative think tank that came up with ‘independent redistricting commissions’ and sold them to a public…knew that only the blue states would be foolish enough to use such tools…making [them] amenable to creative manipulation.”
“The result…was that two non-progressive men—middle-of-the-road Democrats who hope to be Supervisors – used the Commission to shape their own dream districts…Commissioners who voted for this map: shame on you,” Kuehl concluded.
Was Malibu’s own State Senator Henry Stern (D-San Fernando Valley) one of the “non-progressive men” that Kuehl accuses of rigging the maps in order to run as her replacement? We may never know, but one day after the Commission adopted the new county maps, Stern announced his candidacy for the LA County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District, in the June 2022 primary election.
Except for the City of Santa Monica, the new LA County Supervisor 3rd District map, represented by Sheila Kuehl until she terms out at the end of 2022, is almost identical to the map of Stern’s current 27th State Senate District Map. Since he’s represented an almost identical area since November 2016, that puts him at an advantage over the other candidates.
Neither map does much for Malibu, lumping our coastal and mountain city in with valley and desert areas that are not communities with similar interests.