Zev Yaroslavsky will continue as the county supervisor for Calabasas and this city will remain in a district with its common-interest communities, under a redistricting plan approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. But the situation could be altered because litigation is expected against the plan, which opponents say violates the federal Voting Rights Act by not creating a second district likely to elect a Latino representative.
Called "A3," the approved plan will minimize the movement of communities from one district to another, keeping the electoral boundaries nearly identical to how they are now.
Opponents argued vociferously during several public hearings that the plan would pack Latinos into one electoral district. They pushed alternative plans that would create at least two districts where Latinos made up the majority of voters. Those plans would have resulted in more than 3 million people being moved from one district to another, including Malibu joining a South Bay district.
In the initial voting for the three plans up for consideration,they all failed to get the required four votes needed for passage on the five-member board. Later, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who had voted against the "A3" plan, agreed to vote for it because, he said, he wanted to "expedite" a long-expected lawsuit on the issue.
"Regrettably I think ultimately we find ourselves in a circumstance where a federal court will likely determine whether a second effective district is in fact legally required," Ridley-Thomas said. "So it's my view, in order to expedite that matter and to avoid further what is a potentially divisive delay and what I would consider the unnecessary gamble of the uncertainty of an untested [administrative] appeals process, we ought to hasten getting to closure."
Supervisor Gloria Molina, the lone vote against the plan, released a statement following the hearing that praised Ridley-Thomas for forcing the issue.
"As [Ridley-Thomas] explained when he cast his final vote today, he still stands strongly by his S2 Map and my T1 Map," Molina wrote. "His vote in support of the A3 Map was to expedite the matter, hasten its closure, and get us to a court ruling in order to have the Voting Rights Act complied with."
Although no group has stepped up and openly announced it plans to sue the county, various individuals and representatives of Latino advocacy groups have said at board meetings that they expect that the "A3" plan will result in a lawsuit.
If the board had not come to an agreement, a committee made up of officials from the Sheriff's Department, Assessor's Office and District Attorney's office would have had the next try at passing a plan.
Throughout the process, the board has heard testimony from attorneys and political science professors that the "A3" plan likely violates federal voting laws. However, the attorney hired by the county to examine the plans has repeatedly said she believes it does not.
The county previously lost a lawsuit on redistricting in 1990, when a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund resulted in the creation of the county's first Latino majority district.