November 2022 Ballot / Ballot Measure / City Charter Amendment / Independent Redistricting Commission

MOTION-- A fundamental principle of representative democracy is that elections should be determined by voters, not by politicians who draw district maps. In many states and jurisdictions around the United States, this principle is currently under attack, with politicians at multiple levels of government drawing their own district lines to pick their voters and influence the outcome of elections. 

In California, the State, several counties, and a number of cities have begun to guard against this
type of political gerrymandering by turning over responsibility for political map drawing to
independent redistricting commissions. These commissions are insulated from the elected
officials whose district boundaries an~ being redrawn, prevent the participation of lobbyists and
political insiders, and are given transparent; ranked criteria to guide the map drawing process.

The City of Los Angeles is far behind these other jurisdictions. In Los Angeles, the redistricting
process that was created during the charter reform of 1999 has proven to be hopelessly flawed.
First and foremost, the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission is not independent
of the City Council. Commissioners are selected by the elected officials of the City, including the
members of the City Council whose districts are to be redrawn, and they may be lobbied and
replaced at will by the very people who appointed them. Second, commissioners may have
financial, political, and personal conflicts of interest that undermine the integrity of the
redistricting process, with some commissioners serving as registered lobbyists or "government
relations" professionals who make a living advocating before the City Council, and yet others
having backgrounds as political insiders with ties to campaigns, political fundraising efforts, and
potential future candidates for City Council. Finally, the City Charter does not clearly delineate
the mission of the Commission, such that commissioners are free to disregard certain public
testimony and prioritize certain voices over others without clear criteria to guide their decisions.

To restore Angelenos' faith in the City's redistricting process, the time has come for the City to
offer voters the chance to consider an alternative redistricting process that establishes an
Independent Redistricting Commission in the City Charter.

I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council instruct the Chief Legislative Analyst, with
assistance from the City Attorney and other City departments, as needed, to report within 90
days with options for a ballot measure for the November 2022 ballot to amend the City Charter
to create an Independent Redistricting Commission for the City of Los Angeles. The report
should include, among other topics, the following:

• An analysis of the structure and performance of the independent redistricting
commissions in place at the State of California, the County of Los Angeles, the County of San Diego, the City of Long Beach, the City of Berkeley, and any others that could serve
as models to be replicated;

• Best practices for the selection of redistricting commissioners, including the possibility of
a random/self-selection model wherein:

(1) the applicant pool is vetted and whittled down
by non-elected and/or non-partisan bodies (e.g., an ethics commission or a selection
panel of retired judges or democracy experts) to a reasonable number of qualified

(2) a certain number of qualified applicants are randomly selected to sit on the
commission, and

(3) the remainder of the commissioners are democratically selected by
the randomly selected commissioners;

• The qualifications for commissioners, including the potential consideration of voter
registration status, jurisdiction residency, analytical skills relevant to the redistricting
process and voting rights, the ability to comprehend and apply the applicable State and
Federal legal requirements, the ability to be impartial, and an appreciation for the diverse
demographics and geography of the City of Los Angeles;

• Conflicts of interest that would preclude participation on the redistricting commission,
including the prohibition of individuals who: have worked for, within a minimum time
frame prior to application, a locally elected politician or a local candidate's campaign;
have contributed, within a minimum time frame prior to application, a certain dollar
amount to a candidate for locally elected office; have been registered, within a minimum
time frame prior to application, as a lobbyist with the City of Los Angeles, the County of
Los Angeles, the State of California, or the Federal government; have been a local
candidate or elected within a minimum time frame prior to application; have served as a
member of any board or commission of the City of Los Angeles; have been an employee,
or performed services under contract with the City of Los Angeles, including performing
services as an employee of a contractor or subcontractor; have been an employee of any
redistricting contractor or consultant; and/or are the spouse, domestic partner, child,
parent, sibling or in-law of any person who fits any of the criteria above;

• Potential prohibitions on commissioners, for a specific period of time after appointment,
becoming candidates for, or be appointed to, any elected office in the City of Los
Angeles, being compensated for lobbying the City Council, or receiving a
non-competitively bid contract from the City;

• Best practices for the size, structure, and makeup of the commission to ensure a
representative commission that reflects the great diversity of the City of Los Angeles in
terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, renter vs. homeowner status, age, gender,
and geography, among any other relevant considerations;

• Best practices for the criteria that should guide the commission's map drawing process,
including the ranked criteria model and the commissioners' potential consideration of
compactness, contiguity, the unity of neighborhoods (including Neighborhood Councils)
and communities of interest, existing district boundaries, minimization of voter deferral,
adherence to applicable State and Federal legal requirements, and other relevant
considerations, including those enumerated in the California Fair Maps Act of2019;

• Best practices for a fair numbering process for newly-drawn districts, including the
possible adoption of an objective standard for new districts to be numbered
corresponding to the existing district from which they draw the greatest population;

• Best practices for the removal and replacement of commissioners, including the possible
adoption of a for-cause standard for removal and the inclusion of additional non-voting
commissioners to serve as alternates in the case of removal, resignation, or incapacitation
of a commissioner;

• Best practices for the insulation of the redistricting commission from City elected
officials and staff, including the banning of all commissioner communications with City
elected officials and staff and the possibility of the redistricting commission having
independent staff and an independent counsel;

• Best practices to ensure transparency and public participation, including the potential
adoption of minimum requirements for access and participation, outreach, options to give
verbal or written testimony, options to participate in-person or virtually, and access to
mapping software with the ability to submit publicly drawn maps;

• An adequate and mandatory budget for the redistricting commission and potential
safeguards to ensure City elected officials and staff cannot underfund the commission or
forestall the release of commission funds;

• Best practices for commissioner compensation;

• Legal remedies for the challenging of adopted maps and options protocols to address
maps deemed illegal by a court of law; and

• Any other considerations to ensure that the commission fairly and adequately represents
the residents of the City of Los Angeles in the redistricting process.