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APIs Urged to Let Voices Be Heard in Redistricting

Posted: Jan 15, 2012

 Whether Little Tokyo will remain in the 9th Council District or Koreatown will be united into one district will depend on the redrawn map of the Los Angeles City Council. A 21-member citizens commission is seeking input from the public and Asian Pacific Islanders are urged to get involved.

Several members of the Redistricting Commission attended a press conference on Wednesday in Little Tokyo, including Arturo Vargas, chair of the redistricting commission, and commissioners Robert Ahn, Helen B. Kim and David Roberts.

“Redistricting means many things, it means empowerment and having the opportunity to have an equal voice and equal representation,” said Kim, an attorney and board member of the Korean American Coalition.

Every 10 years Los Angeles City Council lines are redrawn to account for changes in the population as tabulated in the U.S. Census. The goal is to have equal population in each of the 15 districts. The new district map must also comply with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Race cannot be used as a predominant factor in drawing district lines.

The 9th District, which includes Little Tokyo, is 8,629 residents over the ideal population and will need to shrink in order to comply with the city charter. At a Dec. 10 hearing, Little Tokyo representatives were vocal in their support for keeping the Japanese town intact and in the 9th district.

“It’s a historic ethnic neighborhood that’s been around for 125 years. It’s not too big, it’s rather small, said Bill Watanabe, executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center. “I think our first request would be we keep it intact. We don’t want to be divided up into different districts.”

Councilmember Jan Perry, who is termed out of her council seat, said during the Dec. 10 meeting that when she was first elected in 2001, she was asked to move Little Tokyo from the 9th District to the 14th District. Read more here.

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