YIMBYs need to pay attention to redistricting at all levels.  While there has been much news coverage of redistricting for congressional seats and LA City Council seats, fewer people are paying attention to the LA County Board of Supervisor redistricting process.  While many individuals, community & business groups have attended meetings and given oral and written comments, I notice the absence of YIMBY voices.

I’m sending out a bat signal for YIMBY voices, particularly ones with GIS mapping skills and/or with ties to vulnerable communities.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC) is required to take Communities of Interest (COI) testimony into consideration when drawing the lines.  Hundreds of people submitted COI testimony about who they are like and not like, who they want to be grouped with, and who they do not want to be grouped with.  

One recurring theme was that people suffer pollution and other negative impacts together and want to be represented by one supervisor.  The old practice of putting boundaries along freeways splits up the COI of freeway-harmed people.

Another frequent theme was housing precarity.  Latinos who are living in overcrowded homes (and lost parents/grandparents to Covid because of it) did not want to be grouped with wealthy and loud NIMBYs who deny their reality.

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One fruitful line of argument would be, I work in A, but I can’t afford to live in A. I live in B and this is how I travel to work. My COI spans from my home to my workplace.”  The commissioners have been very receptive to people who testified that they live in the communities east of LAX and suffer disproportionately from the negative impacts of LAX.  Moreover, while the airport is in the city of El Segundo, the people who work at LAX cannot afford to live there (median home price over $1.5 M). 

This is especially important in El Segundo, which has 48k jobs and 17k residents. Despite having 3 light rail stations, the city refuses to zone for any housing east of Pacific Coast Highway, where all the light rail stations, a major military base (LAAFB), and a national lab (The Aerospace Corporation) are located.


The El Segundo/LAX job center (3rd largest in LA County) could be cleanly separated from the rest of El Segundo because there are no voters east of PCH anyway. 

The major job center of Santa Monica/West LA (2nd largest in LA County) is also in play. An earlier map split Santa Monica into two.  Part of the justification was the jobs/housing imbalance. Santa Monica is also home to RAND, a national lab whose highly-paid workers still struggle to find housing near work.  LA County’s third national lab, JPL, is also near the boundaries of maps under consideration.

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County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors are ultimately responsible for crafting the Housing Element for unincorporated areas of LA County so that they can meet their 6th cycle RHNA target of 90,052 homes. So far, their efforts are lacking. They also have votes on LA Metro’s Board so they determine transportation priorities. Cities were assigned RHNA targets partly based on their areas inside High Quality Transit Areas (HQTA).  Ever wonder why wealthy cities had almost no acreage inside HQTAs?

In closing, YIMBYs need to be involved with redistricting at all levels. Elected officials are nervously watching redistricting efforts.  This is the time to flex your power. 

CRC meetings are public and on Zoom.  Check the Agenda; there is time during every meeting to comment either under an agenda item (eg map discussion) or in general comments.  There are also Public Hearings whose main purpose is to hear from you. 

Tonight, December 1, 2021, at 6:30 PM, there is a special meeting and public hearing to discuss the top four map contenders.  The maps will be tweaked live in response to public comments. Go to the Virtual Meetings Page, scroll down to the materials for review for tonight’s meeting.  I hope to (virtually) see you there.

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