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Redrawing conclusions

Commission in charge of drawing district maps abandons Thursday deadline

Posted: July 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: July 12, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

Commissioners overwhelmed by feedback on proposed new electoral lines have abandoned Thursday’s deadline to release another round of maps and seek more public comments.

Members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission also canceled a meeting scheduled Monday to allow map-drawers to catch up on suggested designs, said local lobbyist Scott Wilk.

Wilk, who represents the Coalition of Suburban Communities for Fair Representation, flew to Sacramento for Saturday’s commission session to voice concern about the latest proposed state Senate district.

“They decided at their meeting ... that in order to produce the best district maps possible, (the commission) will amend its schedule and not release a second round of draft maps,” Wilk said Monday.

Originally, Thursday was the day the commission expected to release its second set of official maps.

The final district maps are now slated to be released July 28 and adopted by the commission on Aug. 15.

The commission is a group of citizens appointed under new state law to draw districts for the state Assembly, Senate, Board of Equalization and for Congress that are untainted by politics.

Every 10 years, new district lines have to be drawn to reflect new census numbers. Previously, those lines were drawn by elected legislators, who often had an interesting in preserving their power bases.

Senate seat
When the commission released its first set of maps last month, its drafting of the proposed new Senate district that takes in the Santa Clarita Valley was the map many advocates said would certainly be revised.

The initial map included a sweeping area from the Kern County line at its northern edge down to Malibu, including all points in between such as Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks and Calabasas.

On Friday afternoon, Wilk said, he caught a glimpse of the commission’s “visualizations” of that same state Senate seat — revised. He said that’s what prompted him to fly to Sacramento.

“I was shocked,” Wilk said Monday of the proposed district, which took in parts of the San Fernando Valley, including Pacoima, Lakeview Terrace and Arleta, as well as the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys. He said no one had ever advocated for such a district.

“And I was further dismayed because the commission had no comment on it. They just looked at it, said ‘OK’ and moved on.”

Wilk said he had not previously seen a proposed Senate district that did not combine two Assembly districts, as commissioners were directed to do by guidelines under the new redistricting laws.

Wilk said the commission canceled its meetings early this week and killed plans for a second set of maps after he and others objected to the proposed Senate district.

Revisions
Redistricting commissioners say they respond to the comments they hear from constituents.

The commission had initially cut Newhall and a sliver of Valencia out in the first round of its proposed congressional redistricting maps.

After objections were raised, those areas were reunited with the rest of the SCV in proposed maps.

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