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Redistricting map creates 'economic apartheid' for 9th District, says Perry

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, at 05:26PM
Hayley Fox

Councilwoman Jan Perry surrounded by more than 40 of her constituents expressed their disapproval towards the recently released redistricting map.

In a beautiful garden just a few blocks from Little Tokyo, Councilwoman Jan Perry stood before a group of reporters and called the whole redistricting process ugly.

And she did not mince words.

"We were promised an open process. It has not been an open process," Perry said.

Surrounded by about 40 of her constituents, fashion district business owners, art walk supporters, parents and WWII veterans, Perry praised her district for its years of hard work and economic growth; and reprimanded the new council district lines.

Perry, who's served the 9th district since 2001, said separating her Downtown area from South L.A. would sever historic ties, hinder coalition-building and "strip assets" from the two areas that have worked together for years.

In fact, losing these assets would create an "economic apartheid" where there was previously enormous growth, Perry said.

"Redistricting should not be a process of reward and punishment," Perry said.

Tom Gilmore of Gilmore Development said that you can't fix or help a district by cutting it in half. He also said the 9th District being broken up is "pure political pageantry."

The councilwoman, along with various other community speakers, cited the "mosaic" of people who lived in the district as one of the area's greatest strengths.

"We have worked together and we deserve what we have," said Hector Hernandez, a longtime 9th District resident.

What the 9th District won't have is many of the ongoing projects Perry has been involved with: The shopping center at 7th and Figueroa Streets and the $160 million living development, One Santa Fe, to name a few.

But the district's new boundaries may affect South L.A. most of all.

Hernandez said the new map would create an "economic desert" in the area.

Many residents and business owners agreed.

Mark Wilson is the executive director for the Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD), a Vernon Central-based organization that works on improving life in South L.A. through community services, employment opportunities, education and the support of small businesses.

Wilson said much of the group's success has come from partnering with Downtown areas like Little Tokyo and the Alameda Corridor - areas that will be cut off from Vernon Central if this redistricting map is here to stay.

Under the new map, most of the Downtown area would go to Councilman José Huizar.

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