Letter to the Editor: Drawing the line

As many of you know, the redistricting process is in full swing here in the city of Long Beach. This responsibility lies within the City Council’s hands, and the new maps must be submitted to the County Registrar by August.
Every 10 years when the US Census results are in, all states, counties and cities must bring their boundaries into alignment to assure the residents that they have equal representation. I am learning that this process, which began with good intentions as defined by our 17 council-directed criteria, has moved into the more difficult phase.
Four of the city’s council districts (1,6,8 and 9) are required to adjust their boundaries because of their variations in population, but those moves create the ripple effect that also requires the 2nd and 7th districts to adjust their boundaries. In the end, all nine council members make the final decision.
Per the Census numbers, the 8th district exceeded the legally acceptable threshold by 145 people, but the 9th district had to shed 1,268 residents into the 8th, which puts us over by 1,413 individuals.
If you study the 8th district map, you will see how difficult this can be when some of the key guidelines are to: avoid splits in neighborhoods having a clear identity; preserve communities of interest; preserve population cores which have consistently been associated with particular districts; and avoid large-scale dislocations of district populations. Redistricting should focus on areas of population, not on areas such as parks or business districts.
A majority of the City Council would not support offering my proposed redistricting map for public review. The only version being provided to the citizens is Councilmember James Johnson’s proposal, which was supported by a 5-4 vote of the Council.
I believe in fair play. I believe in creating as little disruption within the neighborhoods as possible. I believe in following the established guidelines, and I believe in honoring the wishes of the communities that we serve.
I invite you to participate in this defining debate at a community meeting on Tuesday, June 28 at 6:30pm at The Expo Art Center, located at 4321 Atlantic Ave.
We will provide maps for you to work on together. We will listen to your positions and concerns. I have invited Councilmember Johnson and City Manager Pat West to attend so that they may hear what I hear. My goal is that together we can bring back to the council debate a solution that we can all live with.
Also, please mark your calendars for Tuesday, July 5 at 5pm and plan to attend the City Council meeting to give testimony and hear the debate that will affect many of our residents and the neighborhoods.

Rae Gabelich
Eighth District Councilmember

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