First round of City Council district maps are released—and they spell big changes

Initial maps of possible new council district boundaries show some of the current elected leaders could be ineligible to run in their districts—a change that could dramatically alter the political landscape in the city.

RedistrictingPartners, the consultant hired to help the Long Beach Independent Redistricting Commission draw new political lines, released 10 potential maps late Wednesday. Every version seemingly puts at least one incumbent council member in danger of being drawn out of the districts they currently represent. 

Multiple versions of the maps would have at least two current council members living in the same district, with one plan creating a situation where there would be two open districts, with no incumbent.

There’s not a single map that puts 3rd District Councilwoman Suzie Price in the district that she’s represented since 2014.

“I am not able to provide any specific reactions regarding the preliminary maps because it’s important that the individual council members not place undue influence on the process,” Price said in a text Thursday. “I trust that the commission will make an informed decision based on past and future public input.”

The submissions consist of five maps labeled A through E. The second set of the maps are essentially copies of the first five but with small adjustments so that the population in each district is no more than 5% different. The city’s charter requires the deviation, or the difference in population, to be no more than 10%. After the Census data release last month, the city’s deviation is now closer to 15%.

The maps released Wednesday are by no means the final maps. The commission is meeting Oct. 20 at City Hall to discuss the maps and potentially narrow its options down to three maps, which could include maps submitted by the public, and be further altered during the Oct. 20 meeting.

Those three maps will then be made public for additional review for another week before a meeting on Oct. 27 reserved specifically for public comment on the finalists. A meeting on Nov. 10 is the first time the commission could vote on a final map and selecting one will require a supermajority (nine votes) of the board to approve of a map.

It would have to take another procedural vote Nov. 18 to confirm the final map. The commission has until Dec. 7 to make a final selection, which gives it some room for disagreement among its 13 members.

Three of the 10 draft maps that will be considered by the redistricting commission.

Here are some key takeaways from Wednesday night’s release:

The 5th District

Lakewood, the city directly north of the 5th, has a city motto of “Times change, values don’t.” The same could be said about the 5th District’s boundaries. The district stands to be one of the least changed in the city if one of the draft maps is eventually approved.

In most of the 10 versions, the district would lose the Artcraft Manor Neighborhood south of Willow Street and some unpopulated Census bocks at the Long Beach Airport but would regain the Whale Tale, a chunk of El Dorado Park that was gerrymandered away from it 20 years ago.

North Long Beach

The city’s northern districts were expected to see some change because of uneven population growth in the area over the past 10 years, but some of the ways the maps divide up the north could leave it unrecognizable. Six of the maps show what is currently the city’s 9th Council district being split into two vertical districts, with one map having the eastern half reach as far south as the Long Beach Airport.

Another version, which sought to consolidate all of West Long Beach, has all portions of the city west of the 710 Freeway, including the Port of Long Beach, stacked into one district. Some neighborhood groups goals of maintaining South Street as a natural border for the 9th District and reunifying the Los Cerritos Neighborhood that was cut in half in 2011 could be achieved, depending on what maps advance.

Southeast Long Beach

While the 5th District could emerge from the redistricting process relatively unchanged, the same cannot be said for the 3rd and 4th Districts, according to the draft maps released Wednesday. All versions of the maps show the 4th District expanding south while having its current western boundary moved east.

Those moves would see Cal State Long Beach be absorbed by the 4th District while the 3rd District, which includes Naples and Belmont Shore, would push westward. Multiple maps show what is currently the 3rd District reaching as far west as Alamitos Avenue. Its current boundary ends at Junipero Avenue.

Cambodians

The Cambodian community and the good governance group, Common Cause, helped establish the ballot measure that created the redistricting commission with the hopes that it would reunite as many Cambodians in Central Long Beach into one district to restore the community’s voting power.

None of the draft maps show a dramatic increase in the Asian population in the area where 6th District and much of Cambodia Town are currently located. Most of the maps show marginal increases in overall population of Asians, which was 20% in the 6th District after the 2010 Census, and the voting age population remained around its 26% mark from 2010 in most of the proposed maps. As was the case in 2010, the proposed maps showed a large Latino majority in what in the area that is currently the 6th District.

Long Beach Airport

A rallying cry from a persistent group of community members demanding that the Long Beach Airport be touched by as many districts as possible appears to have achieved that. Most of the draft maps have at least three council districts touching airport property.

The airport is currently located entirely in the 5th District and residents opined that without their districts touching it, their voices on airport matters would go unheard.

Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach has been part of the 2nd District for the past 30 years but the maps released Wednesday show it being consolidated into one district, which could likely be the 1st District, if adopted as drawn. Putting the port into a West Long Beach district was a point made by the public so that the councilperson representing the Westside, an area burdened by port pollution, would also have direct relations with the port.

The 2nd District has been one of the more powerful districts in the city because of its boundaries including the port and the Downtown waterfront but it appears that could be changing during this redistricting process.

[Editors note: The story has been updated with a comment from Councilwoman Suzie Price. The story has also been updated to note that maps submitted by the public are among those that the commission could consider at its Oct. 20 meeting. The original story has also been updated due to the city changing the Nov. 17 meeting to Nov. 18.]

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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