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Downtown should be just one council district, says José Huizar

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, at 03:16PM
Eric Richardson

José Huizar's 14th District will gain much of Downtown if the new redistricting map goes into effect.

While Jan Perry has been publicizing her vehement opposition to the new redistricting map, her district neighbor, Councilman José Huizar, seems to be embracing his new Downtown acquisitions and been making plans for future growth.

"As an urban planner I'm excited about the challenge that these opportunities Downtown provide from a planner perspective," Huizar said.

In the new map, Huizar's 14th District keeps Broadway Avenue and sprawls out into much of the Downtown area, taking over the Financial District, Little Tokyo and an extended portion of the Alameda Corridor.

His northeast boundaries change less drastically, besides losing Mount Washington and his portion of Glassell Park.

Huizar said that he's been feeling the pressure from other districts to move his area south - making room for other districts growth.

"They need to expand, I need to expand and CD 9 (9th District) needs to contract," he said.

The 9th District is overpopulated compared to the other districts, so reducing the size of the area was necessary. This redistricting process occurs every 10 years based on the results of the U.S. census. Council lines are redrawn to accomodate for changing demographics and insure that each district has about the same number of constituents.

Huizar said that incorporating most of the land it into the 14th District made sense in response to a changing population.

But the portions that were reallocated are what Perry referred to as her district's "assets."

Huizar said that L.A. Live, which remains in the 9th along with Staples Center, is a huge asset for the councilwoman.

He explained that it concerns him when people refer to Downtown as the "economic engine" for South L.A, because Downtown could be a valuable resource for many of it's neighboring communities; Pico Union, Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights to name a few.

"If I'm working on creation of jobs in Downtown and economic activity, I'm not doing that to only benefit the rest of my council district, I'm doing that to benefit all council districts," said Huizar.

Huizar pointed out that in addition to the benefits of Downtown, there's a lot of challenges: Skid Row for one (which is now almost entirely in the 14th District). The Arts District, a rapidly changing area, is still "coming to find itself in many ways" - posing possibilities of growing pains that could be said for a majority of Downtown's neighborhoods.

One of Huizar's most well-known Downtown projects is "Bringing Back Broadway"- a revitalization effort he intends on continuing throughout Downtown.

"Just like I've done on Broadway, I hope to bring the same intensity and focus to the rest of Downtown," Huizar said.

But this redistricting map isn't final and neither are the debates. In fact, starting next month, L.A. residents have a chance to get in on the action.

There will be several opportunities throughout February for people to voice their concerns and pose possible changes for the commission's redistricting map, before the city council makes their final decision in March.

Although there will be locations throughout the city for these public hearing, for Downtown locals it's February 8 at 6:30 p.m. at city council chambers.

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