Pressed for time, Redistricting Commission to decide on final draft maps Wednesday

When the Long Beach Independent Redistricting Commission meets Wednesday, Nov. 3, it could provide more clarity to what future political boundaries in the city will look like if it can advance a map to a final draft plan hearing next week.

The redistricting process is required by law every decade after the release of new Census data to ensure that districts are evened out to account for population growth. The new map will determine who can run for City Council, and who can vote for them.

The commission is holding a continuation of a hearing that started at its Oct. 20 meeting, when it was scheduled to pick up to three maps to be considered as potential final maps.

However, a combination of an outpouring of public sentiment, commissioner’s suggested changes, and a condensed timeline pushed the commission meeting late into the evening, with it finally ending shortly after 1 a.m.

The commission opted to add a new meeting this Wednesday in hopes of getting closer to approving a final map by Nov. 18, the deadline the commission set to finish.

Two amended maps, requested by commissioners Feliza Ortiz-Licon and Genna Beckenhaupt, as well as an “Equity Map” introduced by Latino community advocates last week, could be under consideration to move on to the next meeting, on Nov. 10.

That’s in addition to the map that commissioners have spent the last two weeks tinkering with, which also appears likely to advance to the Nov. 10 meeting. Any map that is advanced as a final draft map will need nine of the 13 commissioners for approval.

Three maps that could be under consideration to advance to the final draft map hearing Nov. 10. Graphic by Valerie Osier

The Ortiz-Licon map

This map could create four council districts with a Latino majority as well as another district, where the present-day 7th District is, with a 48.6% Latino population.

There are currently three council districts with a majority Latino population, though just one of them currently has a Latino representative in office.

It would also make the current 4th District 20% more White than it was under the current council district lines, as it would lose its share of Cambodia Town and absorb parts of East Long Beach like the El Dorado Estates and several neighborhoods between Willow and Spring Streets.

The current 5th District would slide west and gain parts of Bixby Knolls, California Heights and Los Cerritos.

The Ortiz-Licon map would also displace Councilwoman Cindy Allen from the Downtown district, which would require her to move if she wanted to serve past 2024 when her current term expires.

The Beckenhaupt map

This map would have majority-Latino districts like the Ortiz-Licon map but would draw them in a different manner. Latinos make up the largest individual ethnic group in the city, with over 43% of Long Beach identifying as Hispanic in the 2020 Census, but make up 22% of the city’s nine City Council representatives.

The city’s western flank would be divided into two vertical districts with the entire Westside, most of the Port of Long Beach and a chunk of Downtown from Third Street to Anaheim forming one, and everything from Virginia Country Club in the north to the Washington Neighborhood forming the other.

The map requested by Beckenhaupt also puts all of Bixby Knolls into one district, and like the Ortiz-Licon map, has what is currently the city’s 5th District jumping over the airport and into Cal Heights and Willow Springs Park.

The ‘Equity’ map

This map, submitted by members of the public who sought to maintain Latinos as the largest voting blocks in the current 1st and 7th City Council districts, keeps those two districts sharing the city’s Westside neighborhoods but includes changes to the city’s eastern districts, most notably with what is the current 5th District getting stretched westward to include parts of Bixby Knolls.

Discussion on the maps and any amendments are expected to lead off the commission’s Wednesday night meeting. When the commissioners voted last week to schedule the additional meeting, they also stipulated that their discussion on the maps would happen before public comment.

Last week, over four hours of public comments led to the commission not starting deliberations on proposed maps until after 10 p.m. The Nov. 3 meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. inside the Bob Foster Civic Chambers at City Hall.

Redistricting Commission adds new meeting, fails to advance map to final draft meeting

Commission tasked with redrawing council district lines forwards just 1 possible map

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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