Know Your Council District

 City CouncilWith all of Hollywood to divide them, I’ve always wondered how Tom LaBonge manages to represent both Los Feliz and a good chunk of Miracle Mile. I finally decided to hunt down a map of the City Council Districts and I thought I’d share a couple of links that people might find useful. This is obviously pretty basic stuff, but if you’ve never bothered to check out “The Official Web Site of the City of Los Angeles”, you may not have ever seen it. First, here’s a list of all the Councilmembers by District. And, if you’re not sure what District you’re in, here’s a map of the District boundaries (PDF). Bizarrely, there are no street names on the boundary map, but each Councilmember’s info has a link to a map of their District. Between the two you should be able to figure out who’s feifdom you’re occupying. Like I said, pretty basic stuff, but if you’ve never bothered to look it’s worth a few moments.

And now that we’ve all had a look at the District boundaries, can somebody tell me what the hell is up with these gerrymandered District demarcations? As I already pointed out, LaBonge’s District 4 looks like it’s done a pretty good job of skirting around the less affluent parts of the Hollywood area. And Jos√© Huizar’s District 14 has an almost inappropriate-looking appendage jammed up inside Jan Perry’s District 9. Anybody care to share insight on how District boundaries are determined? Is a population balance thing or is there something more sinister that I should know about?

UPDATE: The ever-knowledgeable LA City Nerd kindly chimes in with the relevant section of the City Charter.

12 Replies to “Know Your Council District”

  1. Why don’t they have the district you are in printed on the back of the voter info booklets, right next to your name? Or in the front of the phone book? And why not the street divisions?

    Seriously, is there some big secret?

  2. Remember when Arnold wanted to redistrict? I think you’re beginning to find out why.

  3. He wanted to redistrict the City of Los Angeles’s City Council Districts? That seems a bit like overstepping his bounds.

  4. There’s a very easy way to see whose district you are in. Type in your address at lacity.org. The website will give you not only your city council district but your local, state and federal representatives as well.

  5. On the front page of lacity.org, there’s a box called “My Neighborhood.” Put your address there, and it’ll tell you what CD you live in, along with all your other elected officials, Neighborhood Council, police station, trash pickup day, and more.

  6. How the city of LA carves itself is no business of Arnold’s.

    It can, however, be of concern to the courts. There are A LOT of requirements when it comes to drawing district lines. And there are a lot of good-government policies as well. Legal requirements can apply to remedy voting bloc behavior (ie: discrimination based on race in voting, which can manifest in district lines draw to “crack” the voting strength of a minority voting group so it can’t amass the votes to elect reps of its choice; or it can “pack” a group so that where it would otherwise elect several reps, it can elect only one). Good-government goals ask that natural neighborhoods and communities of interest not be split among different seats. (at the higher level, this means, when possible, not dividing cities between two representative districts, etc).

    LA can be a tough carve because there are pockets of unincorporated land (little county islands in a sea of LA-ness) and, in the case of my home district, one wack-arsed shape because the city reached down as directly as possible to snatch up the port. Do parts of Watts have a lot in common with Pedro? Not so much, but there really isn’t much of another way to combine those two areas together – that’s the way the city lines go, and so goes the district.

    Comparing the city map with a topographical one can sometimes prove useful as well. Major streets may connect one hilltop area with a sealevel neighborhood that wouldn’t otherwise seem like match, if not for the practical layout of streets, neighborhoods, and topography.

    But, as someone mentioned, population is the biggest “don’t mess with it” factor in the equation. One-man-one-vote operates at pretty much all levels of political subdivision and can make for some confusing lines and map-makers snatch population from one area or another to maintain the right balance across all districts. And they do that all while considering the other requirements like legal requirements or neighborhood preservation.

    At higher levels (congressional, for example) the measure of a district’s compactness (yes, that’s a word and a highly fought-over legal concept)can support arguments that a map is either a good or bad attempt at a reasonable districting.

    It’s a complex process, for sure. But it is also a very transparent one with a mountain of protections and requirements behind it. After the next census, watch for notices on changes in district lines at all level of government.

  7. If you want to see some great examples of actual gerrymandering, by the way, check out the current congressional and state senate district maps. Pay special attention to the way the coast was carved up and handed out at the congressional level. Reallllly offensive to map-makers like me.

  8. 5000!… No, Ahhhnuld wasn’t jonesing to redistrict LA, he wants to redistrict California’s State Assembly Districts and / or State Congressional Districts.

    Gerrymandering is the basis of both LA and CA district maps though. I think Ruth666 was simply comparing them… and they are eerily similar in concept.

    Easy on the 14th – I live right at the base of the “finger”… and sometimes I’m not sure it is a “finger”, knowing this ‘hood. Actually, it looks like Jan Perry’s 9th “intrudes” into Jose Huizar’s 14th… a peculiar quality endemic to gerrymandered districts. Some city boundaries take similar form – look at Industry, Anaheim and the grandaddy of all sprawling city limit, LA itself. Technically, LA has a tendril of City incorporated property extending all the way to Owens Valley along the LA Aqueduct… some 250 miles away from DTLA. Sort of makes the San Pedro / Harbor tentacle look like child’s play.

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