Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer announced Monday that he will speed up his timetable for doubling the size of the City Council, saying he wants a vote on a ballot measure next year instead of 2024.
Feuer, who is running for mayor, said he decided to move more aggressively on his proposal in the wake of the ongoing debate over the city’s effort to redraw boundaries for its council’s 15 districts.
A 21-member citizens commission made up of political appointees submitted its proposed redistricting map to the City Council on Friday. As part of its report, the panel called for an increase in the number of council districts and said that, in future years, the city’s redistricting process should be taken out of the hands of the council and be truly independent.
Feuer said the effort to amend the City Charter and increase the council’s size would need about 320,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. Those signatures would need to be submitted in mid-June, he said.
“It’s going to take an army across the city of Los Angeles of volunteers to change the status quo,” he said. “But that’s the key theme — the status quo isn’t working for us in the city of Los Angeles.”
Feuer made his announcement a day before the council takes up the commission’s redistricting plan, which has drawn support from neighborhood groups in some parts of the city and sharp criticism in others.
Supporters of the proposed map say it would achieve several major goals, such as ensuring the city has 5.7 council districts entirely within the San Fernando Valley, reflecting that region’s population; placing Koreatown within a single council district; and preserving Black and Latino representation in key parts of the city.
Foes of the commission’s proposed map say it has created upheaval in the Valley, seeking substantial changes to districts represented by Bob Blumenfield, Paul Krekorian and Nithya Raman. In several neighborhoods, voters who cast ballots for those politicians would find themselves with a new council member.
Feuer announced in September that he planned to seek a ballot measure in 2024 to double the number of council districts while also cutting council members’ pay in half. At the time, he argued that Angelenos would be better served with a greater number of council members.
On Monday, standing outside City Hall, Feuer said he will instead begin the process of gathering signatures in the next few months.
If such a measure passes next year, the city would begin a new redistricting process to redraw the boundaries of the larger group of council districts. The ballot measure would ensure that that process should be entirely independent, without the involvement of council or political appointees, Feuer said.
Council district boundaries “shouldn’t be based on the self-interest of politicians,” he said. “That’s a recipe for backroom deals.”
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