Don’t Divide Our Community: 10/28/21
On October 11, 2021, the Ad Hoc Committee comprised of Vice Chair Rita Moreno, Adriana Lim, Patrice Marshall McKenzie, and Delano Yarbrough met with redistricting consultants David Ely and Kristen Parks, and City Clerk, Mark Jomsky. David Ely led the group in a review of the proposed changes to district boundaries based on map variations discussed at the October 9, 2021 Redistricting Task Force meeting. As part of the review, the consultants provided a breakdown of proposed changes that included the total number of people that would move districts, the demographic composition of those affected, the geographic details of each adjustment, the number of voters that would change voting cycles, and whether the proposed change in population fit within the character of the existing district. “Walking through the proposed changes in the different map variations was extremely helpful,” said Marshall McKenzie.
The general discussion and consensus of the Ad Hoc Committee was to minimize changes to Districts 1, 3, and 5, and to a lesser extent District 2, given the apparent undercount in the 2020 census that disproportionately affected the Black and Latino communities. The 10% deviation map was reviewed with the committee appreciating the ability to focus in on geographic details of each boundary adjustment.
At least one Ad Hoc Committee member agreed that that the 10% deviation minimal change map appears to be the most attractive given the minor adjustments in area and population throughout the City, while still meeting the legal requirements and criteria for redistricting. Marshall McKenzie noted that it was more important to consider and mitigate the impacts of redistricting on communities rather than achieving mathematically balanced districts.
The ad hoc committee was sensitive to the proposed potential shifts in boundaries dividing communities or crossing natural barriers, such as freeways or thoroughfares or other neighborhood landmarks. Specifically, there were questions raised in the review of the 5% deviation map regarding the demographic data for some of the areas that would be added to northwest districts, particularly those showing a greater non-Hispanic white and/or Asian population adjustment (noted as examples were adjustments from District 6 to District 3 and District 2 to District 5). There was also concern regarding the 5% deviation map boundary change of District 3 to District 1 (Washington Blvd, 210 Freeway, Hammond St, and Sunset Ave), suggesting that this area would be disconnected from the rest of District 1, with the 210 Freeway and Washington Blvd. creating noticeable separation between the new proposed area and the district. A similar concern was raised with the 1% deviation map, which shifted a larger area from District 3 to District 1 (Washington, 210 Fwy, Mountain St, and Sunset Ave), citing the same issue of disconnection with the rest of District 1.
Regarding the proposed Central District in mapping Options A and B, the Ad Hoc Committee was very concerned with the impacts these changes would have on communities of interest in Districts 1, 2, 3, and 5. There were also concerns raised regarding the potential shifting of large numbers of people into new districts.
The Ad Hoc Committee found these proposals unacceptable in the way that neighborhoods were reconfigured, thus creating unduly significant changes to the northwest area of the City.
As proposed, Downtown Options A and B would impact the Northwest Pasadena by splitting neighborhoods and communities of interest in an unfair manner and further burden the area north and east of the 210 freeway. Task Force member, Delano Yarbrough, gave brief historical context to the disenfranchisement and institutional racism that occurred in Northwest Pasadena. Communities of color are still feeling the remnants of decision that were made 60 years ago as it pertains to development decisions, school desegregation practices, the construction of the 210 freeway, and the continued enforcement of de facto housing covenants. We see the remnants of those prior decisions in today’s redistricting maps.
With regard to the footprint and historical demographics that lead to the shaping of Districts 3 and 5, it was explained by the consultant that District 3 was drawn in a way to retain pockets of the black community within one district as a community of interest. Since it was not the charge of the Ad Hoc Committee to draw a possible new footprint for these districts, it was noted that there may or may not be better options to address the history or current shape of these two districts.
Yarbrough voiced his concern that communities that have been traditionally disenfranchised do not necessarily have the instinctive political astuteness demonstrated by other groups; yet the most adverse impacts seem to affect the most disenfranchised the most. When it comes to redistricting, the communities who have been less vocal, will bear the heaviest burden of decisions, good or bad.
The remaining October Task Force Committee meetings are held virtually on Zoom on Saturday at 9 a.m. Visit cityofpasadena.net/city-clerk/redistricting for more information.