USC at center of redistricting discussions

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8th, 9th district reps both want  campus and stadium within their borders

By Sue Favor 

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The battle over which city council district USC and the surrounding University Park area will be zoned in began in earnest this week.

Ninth District Councilman Curren Price introduced a motion Nov. 2 that would keep the area, and its billions of dollars of assets, in the district for at least another decade. He said his aim is to “keep [his] district whole.”

“Over the last several years, our South L.A. community has experienced a renaissance that has brought unprecedented growth to the area,” Price said. “Developments like the Banc of California Stadium, multi-million dollar renovation to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and the $1 billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have put District 9 on the map. These projects have created thousands of jobs and brought with them revenue and investment like never seen before.”

Price’s motion comes two weeks after the city’s Redistricting Commission finalized its proposed map of redrawn district boundaries, done every 10 years after census numbers are revealed. On the panel’s first vote, they put USC back into 8th District Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s area, where it had been for many years until 2011. One night later, the commission reversed itself and voted to retain USC in the 9th District.

The full council, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, has until Dec. 31 to approve a finalized boundary map, or come up with one of their own. That leaves time for a lot of debate over the next two months.

Harris-Dawson’s district is 33% percent Black, which is more than any other district in the city. He said he is going to continue to push for USC to be moved back into his district in part, due to that fact.

“There’s only one district in the city with such a high percentage of African Americans, and we need not to be the only district without assets,” he said.

Harris-Dawson said his eyes are also on the 2028 Olympics — where the Coliseum and Back of California could be used for different events — and other projects.

“The Convention Center is scheduled to be renovated, and the district [that it is in] will get jobs and community benefits,” he said.

The 21-member Redistricting Commission consists of a diverse group of city leaders that were appointed by the council, mayor, city attorney and city controller. The proposed boundary map was based on 2020 census data, the federal Voting Rights Act, and the consideration of hours of public testimony.

The 8th District includes a large swath of South L.A. west of the USC, while the 9th District encompasses downtown and the area immediately east of the Harbor (110) Freeway. Price’s district is 78%  Latino and has the highest rate of residents living in poverty in the city. He said it is for this reason that he is fighting to retain the USC area.

“If District 9 is to have a shot at a more equitable and prosperous future, it cannot lose multi-billion dollar assets like USC, the largest private employer in Southern California, and Exposition Park,” Price said. “Such a move would be a slap in the face for all the hard work, effort and dedication that has been put into building it up.”

Harris-Dawson said after the commission’s vote that he anticipated a “robust discussion” on the boundaries by the council. But even that prognostication proved to be conservative, as council members proposed 38 different variations on the map by day’s end Nov 2.

Also at issue is the proposed boundaries for Districts 2 and 4, which their Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Nithya Raman, respectively, each say removes a large portion of their voters from their jurisdiction.

The 38 proposals are due for review Nov. 5 by a City Council committee that includes Price and Raman.

Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at newsroom@wavepublication.com.

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