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City Council Votes to Leave LA’s Majority Black District with Fewer Assets; CD9 Keeps USC, Expo Park

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Kisha Smith

In 2010, the L.A. City Council voted to strip Council District 8 of its two largest assets—USC and Exposition Park, in a move that Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson says disenfranchised South Los Angeles. Additionally, almost half of its third largest asset, the Baldwin Hill Crenshaw Plaza, was shifted into the Tenth District.

On October 18th, the LA City Redistricting Commission rightfully voted to return these assets back to Council District 8 as they had been since the 1960s, but the next day, in what Harris-Dawson has characterized as “a highly irregular action”, moved USC back to Council District 9

This week, the City Council voted 12-2 to approve a draft redistricting map of political boundaries.  A motion to redress the decade-old decision to remove major community assets —and upwards of 460 acres— from the Eighth Council District was rejected, once again leaving the district with “fewer assets by far” than any of the city’s 15 districts.

“Whereas wealthier districts do not need to leverage their economic and development assets to get basic services such as street improvements, maintenance services, new facilities, and youth programming, historically disinvested and redlined districts rely on them,” read a statement released from the council office of District 8. “They are essential, and this lifeline was cut off for CD 8 in the last Redistricting.

The issue has been a topic of contention between Councilmember Curren Price of CD9 and Harris-Dawson (CD8).

“Council District 8 submitted a map to Price’s office that keeps the Black community intact while building on the allied communities in Districts 8, 9, and 10,” the statement continued. “This map is drawn in a way that corrects the error that occurred a decade ago, strengthens allied communities, and leaves no one without community and economic assets. Several proposals to allocate assets equitably have been rejected by Councilmember Price.”

Price contends that USC and Exposition Park are critical to his district—which includes a big chunk of South L.A. and parts of downtown, including the Staples Center—but also has the largest percentage of Angelenos living in poverty and are mostly people of color.

“Over the past 8 years, we have done a great deal in Expo making sure that there’s local hire with renovation of the Coliseum, the soccer stadium and the Lucas Museum that benefit folks in CD9,” said Price. “That work—and a significant amount of work on other projects— underscores the spirit of engagement and involvement in the Ninth District, and it’s a matter of continuing the projects we started.”

A final vote is set to take place on December 1. Harris-Dawson says he will keep up the fight.

“November 10 and 23 is when the Council will listen to public comment and on December 1 the Council will consider the ordinance,” Harris-Dawson said. “That will be the time to demonstrate Black lives, Black enfranchisement and representation do matter and that we are genuinely ready to begin repairing the injustices of the past.”


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