Downtown and South Los Angeles Stakeholders and Councilwoman Perry Rally Together to Keep the Ninth United:
Multi-Ethnic Community Cites Strong Historic Ties and Coalition Building;
Asks Redistricting Commission to Respect Community Input
Los Angeles— In response to the release of Los Angeles Redistricting Commission Maps this afternoon, Ninth District stakeholders from Little Tokyo, Downtown, Central City East, and South Los Angeles came together Thursday to voice their desire to remain united in the Ninth Council District. Citing historic ties and strong multi-ethnic coalitions that have resulted in major redevelopment and investment throughout the district, Ninth District constituents joined Councilwoman Jan Perry to make their desires known as the redistricting process moves forward and voice their concern that the Commission was failing to listen to the will of the people.
“The process that produced this map neither represents an open process or one that truly took the interests of the people living, working, owning businesses, providing services and investing in the Ninth District reflected in their testimony to the Redistricting Commission,” said Perry, who has represented the area for over 11 years. “Downtown Los Angeles has experienced historic and economic transformation and growth; removing it from the Ninth District will eliminate the engine of change for the people living throughout the district. As proposed, the Redistricting Commission will create a council district that will be one of the poorest in the history of the City of Los Angeles.”
Community leaders from throughout the downtown region see the value of remaining in the Ninth District, citing the unprecedented growth over the past ten years.
“LA Live, Bunker Hill and the Old Bank District have led the revitalization of Downtown due in no small part because of their ability to act within a united Ninth District,” said Tom Gilmore, downtown developer, property owner, and urban pioneer. “Downtown’s historic ties to the Ninth District deserve to be respected. The Redistricting Commission chose to ignore the testimony of the community and to dramatically shift district lines in a year were the Census data does not merit such a shift. The over 70 year history of tying these communities must be taken into account as well as the tremendous investment and redevelopment that has occurred thanks to the synergy that has been created because of our coalition building and strong partnerships.”
For well over 70 years, the communities of South Los Angeles and Downtown have been linked together into what former Councilmember Gilbert Lindsay called “The Great Ninth District.” This connection has deepened and grown over time and in recent years both communities have experienced great redevelopment and investment despite the downturn in the economy. Many Ninth District residents see this as a new synergy that has emerged from coalitions built between these multi-ethnic communities.
“From Central Avenue to Little Tokyo, we have shared values that include building quality infrastructure, preserving our history, and ensuring that major redevelopment results in job creation and opportunity for the people of the Ninth. All of this has been made possible thanks to the connections we have made with our other Ninth District communities. Investment downtown has helped to push the tide of investment south,” said Pastor William Epps, Second Baptist Church located in the Vernon-Central community.
The historic community of Little Tokyo also came out to voice their concerns about the process and their desire to remain in the Ninth District. The community was well-represented at the public hearing held in the Ninth District. At the meeting, Little Tokyo residents and stakeholders came out in support of maintaining the historic boundaries of the district, citing important partnerships that have been forged and a desire to continue the progress that they have seen over the past decade. On Tuesday, January 24, the Little Tokyo Community Council, comprised of over 90 non-profits throughout the Little Tokyo community, passed a resolution stating that they wished to keep Little Tokyo within the boundaries of the Ninth District.
“The Redistricting Commission should seek to preserve current boundaries as much as possible rather than making whole-sale changes to long-standing districts and neighborhoods, and therefore we in Little Tokyo strongly urge the Commission to keep the CD 9 boundaries intact as much as possible. Little Tokyo has been a part of the Great Ninth District for decades and we wish to maintain the relationships and partnerships we have established with the council office,” said Bill Watanabe, Chair of the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) Redistricting Task Force.
Major redevelopment projects coupled with partnerships with non-profits district-wide have resulted in important economic development for disadvantaged communities in South Los Angeles. New district boundaries would sever these ties and create one of the most disadvantaged communities in the city.
“The map presented by the commission doesn’t take into the account the wishes of our community to stay whole and continue to move forward with the success that has finally manifested thanks to our close ties and work with the downtown community. The proposed map strips us of these connections and creates a district with few assets to leverage. In fact, the Commission has created one of the poorest districts in the history of the city, distancing the people of South LA from their ultimate goal of empowerment,” said Mark Wilson, Executive Director of Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), a South Los Angeles based non-profit that works closely with the downtown community to link local disadvantaged youth with job training and housing opportunities. “I thought that the point of redistricting was to protect historic ties, unite communities of interest, and respect the view of the people, not to further disenfranchise them.”
The City’s Redistricting Commission will now hold a series of public hearings to seek input on the draft maps. The hearing for the Ninth District will take place on February 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers. After the hearings, the Commission will finalize their proposed maps by March and send it to the City Council for a discussion and approval. The entire process is slated for completion by July of 2012.
Councilwoman Perry represents the Ninth Council District, which encompasses the most culturally diverse and vibrant communities in Los Angeles, including Bunker Hill, Little Tokyo, and South Los Angeles.