SACRAMENTO, CA— Returning the power of redistricting to the voters of Los Angeles County, Governor Jerry Brown signed today Senate Bill 958 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to align the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ redistricting policy with the statewide movement toward independent redistricting. Existing law allows the board of supervisors of each county to draw their own supervisorial districts. San Diego, the second most populous county in California, established an independent redistricting commission for its Board and with the Governor's signature today, Los Angeles County will become the largest county in the state to adopt an independent redistricting commission.
"Independent redistricting commissions work," said Senator Lara. "With this new law, we will ensure that the people of Los Angeles County have a greater representative voice in their county's political process. An independent redistricting commission represents an unprecedented opportunity to shape a new redistricting process, one that puts the needs of voters above the interests of a select few."
SB 958 is a good government proposal for the citizens of Los Angeles. This bill seeks to align the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ redistricting policy with the statewide movement toward independent redistricting. San Diego, the second most populous county in California, established an independent redistricting commission for its Board therefore it is possible for the largest county in California, Los Angeles, to maximize public participation for its 10 million residents.
SB 958 requires district lines to be drawn by bipartisan groups and diverse representatives of the county. As Los Angeles is one of the most geographically and ethnically diverse counties in the state it is vital that the Board reflects its regional diversity. SB 958 will also help to maintain communities of interests, to ensure groups with similar socioeconomic interests are not negatively impacted by redistricting. For the purposes of fair representation, the political party preferences of the 14 commission members, as shown on the members’ most recent registration affidavits, will be proportional to the total number registered voters. Election districts drawn by citizens can increase the supervisors’ responsiveness to constituents. By requiring an independent body to draw the Board’s district lines, elections would become more competitive, thereby increasing accountability to Los Angeles citizens. Government entities need to remain accountable to the public and SB 958 can aid in achieving this goal.
"In small legislative bodies like county boards of supervisors, it is too easy for a majority of the five incumbents in drawing district lines to agree to protect each other to the detriment of fair representation for growing communities," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "SB 958 will ensure that community interests will outweigh the interests of the powerful incumbent supervisors, and we congratulate the governor and Senator Lara for this big step forward."
Following each decennial federal census, county supervisorial districts can be redrawn. In accordance with this law, SB 958 provides that the Board’s independent redistricting commission would go into effect December 31, 2020. This provision would allow four years for public deliberation. The public will also have the opportunity to review redistricting maps and appointments. The geographic integrity of any city, county, city and county, local neighborhood, or local community of interest will also be respected.
"This bill will help establish a more inclusive, diverse and representative process that reflects LA County's 10 million residents," added Lara.