LOS ANGELES (CNS) — As the Los Angeles City Council concluded the public comment portion of its redistricting process, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson made another attempt Tuesday to move Exposition Park to his district, Council District 8, from Council District 9, but the motion failed.
Exposition Park — which includes Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Natural History Museum and Banc of California Stadium — was located in Council District 8 for decades until the redistricting process a decade ago, when it was moved, along with USC, to Council District 9.
"USC and Expo Park, which has been in the Eighth District for longer than most of the council has been alive, got taken out of the Eighth District and put in the Ninth District," Harris-Dawson told council members Tuesday.
Noting that it was a time of racial reckoning in the United States, Harris-Dawson said it was time to return the financial assets to his majority-Black district. He added that he didn't want to "over-racialize" or divide Los Angeles, but "this one's obvious."
"You can't not fight for this. I cannot walk out of here not having put this before each and every one of you," he told council members.
"At least the African American Museum ought to be in the one Black district," he added.
The motion failed, only receiving the support of three council members — Harris-Dawson, Councilman Mike Bonin and Councilwoman Nithya Raman.
Councilman Curren Price, who represents the Council District 8, said he "vehemently opposed" moving Exposition Park out of his district.
"The fact is, CD9 is still the most impoverished district in the city ... of both Black and Brown folks, but still the most impoverished and it certainly doesn't make sense to take assets from a district that's showing some process, some development," Price said.
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday held its second and final state-required public hearing on the draft redistricting map ahead of its scheduled vote on Dec. 1 to adopt the new borders.
During both public hearings, several people called in to oppose the map for not returning Exposition Park and USC to Council District 8.
"This is the time to undo the harm done 10 years ago and do justice," a member of Community Coalition said during the first public hearing on Nov. 10.
On Tuesday, a woman called in to urge council members "to stand up for equity and fairness and vote to return USC and Exposition Park to Council District 8."
"This isn't political, this is about Black equity, representation and fairness," the woman said.
A person identified as Tyler calling in as part of Black Lives Matter said, "It's so important that the majority Black district (Council District 8) has those financial assets within its power."
Others called in to support the assets staying in Council District 9, saying the district is the poorest of all the city's 15 districts.
The meetings also had several calls from San Fernando Valley residents opposing the proposed map for dividing the neighborhoods of Studio City and Reseda between two different council districts, with Studio City divided among Council Districts 2 and 4, and Reseda divided among Council Districts 3 and 4.
Other residents who called into the meeting praised the unification of their neighborhoods under one council district, particularly Koreatown and Hollywood.
The council on Nov. 9 advanced the draft map, following a week in which council members made significant tweaks to a map originally drafted by a civilian redistricting commission. City Council President Nury Martinez had blasted the commission's original map, saying the changes it proposed for council districts "confused and alienated thousands."
On Nov. 2, council members introduced dozens of amendments to the commission's draft map, followed by more changes introduced by the City Council Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee on Friday.
The council's significant changes to the civilian commission's recommended map came amid calls from many — including the commission itself — to change the city's policy in the future to allow an entirely independent body to handle the redistricting process.
In the commission's recommendations submitted to the City Council, it called for an independent body to redraw the borders in 2031.
"This commission over the last year confirmed that the quasi-independent nature of the advisory commission simply does not work," commission Chairman Fred Ali told council members. "It's time for an independent, rather than advisory, commission to assume responsibility for redistricting for the good of our city."
The Redistricting Commission uses data from the U.S. Census to update the city's districts, with each council member representing about 260,000 people.
Ali told council members on Nov. 2 that 15,000 people offered comment during the process, but he noted challenges during the process, including the COVID-19 pandemic, census data being delayed by five months and a "historic undercount of certain communities" within that data.
Martinez said the commission's map reflected an undercount she attributed to the Trump administration's failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the census and the former president's confusing messaging on the census' deadline.
"Los Angeles' numbers are simply not accurate. Look around you, we did not get whiter and we did not get wealthier. This is not the Los Angeles that I see around me," Martinez said.