District: Santa Monica could become part of a redrawn Congressional district sharing territory with much of the San Fernando Valley. SMDP Image

City Council is uniformly opposed to the draft Congressional District map that would divide Santa Monica from much of the Westside and lump it into a district with large portions of the San Fernando Valley.

In a Nov. 23 Council meeting, members voted unanimously to send a letter to the California Redistricting Commission requesting that Santa Monica remain grouped with beach and Westside cities that align with its issues, challenges and values.

While the letter will reference proposed Congressional, Senate and Assembly Districts, the key concern is the draft Congressional District Map.

This map would remove Santa Monica from Congressman Ted Lieu’s district and place it under the purview of current San Fernando Valley Congressman Brad Sherman. Malibu is grouped with Santa Monica in the proposed new district as well as the Valley areas of Encino, Woodland Hills, Canoga Park, Chatsworth and Granada Hills.

“I don’t think that’s an appropriate alignment for us. It’s not the alignment we’ve ever been in before. I think that we have much more (of a) community of interest… with the Westside cities, for instance we’re in a COG with the beach cities,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich, who submitted the request to send a letter to the Redistricting Commission.

Santa Monica is currently in the 33rd Congressional District, which encompasses all beach cities from Palos Verdes through Malibu as well as Calabasas and Agoura Hills. Santa Monica is also in a Council of Governments (COG) with several Westside Cities including Beverly Hills, Culver City and West Hollywood.

Councilmember Christine Parra raised concerns about how the proposed redistricting would affect Santa Monica’s mutual aid relationships, as Santa Monica is currently in mutual aid agreements with the cities in its COG.

“Mutual aid goes across police to police, fire to fire, emergency management to emergency management,” said Parra. “What that means is that we train together, we provide mutual aid when there’s an event at one of our respective cities, we come out and unite forces and we share plans… so it really, really is extremely beneficial that we continue that liaison with each other.”

The California Constitution stipulates that the Redistricting Commission should draw lines uniting communities of interest, however Himmelrich said she does not believe this is what led to Santa Monica’s proposed redistricting with San Fernando Valley cities. The Constitution defines a community of interest as a population which shares common social and economic interests and should be in a single district for purposes of effective and fair representation.

“This is true politics and not about a community of interests with any particular group, but rather who’s going to be our person, who’s running for this, who’s running for that. There’s a lot of jockeying around that has nothing to do with what an appropriate district would be for us,” said Himmelrich.

City Council will now submit a letter signed by the Mayor that outlines its position on the proposed redistricting. Redistricting is completed every ten years following the census to ensure that each Senate, Assembly and Congressional District includes a similar number of people to protect equal representation in government.

The California Redistricting Commission released its draft maps on Nov. 10 and must submit its final maps by Dec. 27.

Clara@smdp.com