First published in the Nov. 5 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
With the deadline to complete redistricting roughly a month and a half away, the City Council decided last week to support having South Pasadena in a demographic grouping with the rest of the San Gabriel Valley.
The council opted for valley continuity among the three different community of interest, or COI, models. The San Gabriel Valley model spans east to Pomona and includes the bulk of the valley suburbs with which South Pasadena shares ample socioeconomic and political interests, the council determined.
“On a very abstract level,” Councilman Jon Primuth said, “the connections I’m hearing and the connections I know about run pretty much eastward, the more important ones, rather than north to the Tri-Cities area and south and west.
“That’s not to say we don’t have interests in all those regions,” he added. “The criteria here is communities of relevant interest for the purpose of dealing with the supervisory district.”
The United States redraws its geographic political districts — at local, county, state and federal levels — every decade, following the compilation of the U.S. Census, to account for population shifts. These districts must have generally equivalent population figures and, at least in California, should take on a relatively compact form, as opposed to disjointed gerrymanders.
For the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the five districts must be geographically connected — that is to say, they should not divide cities, distinct neighborhoods or these COIs. Given the county’s population, each district should also contain approximately 2 million residents.
As with any political district, future policies and projects are dependent on their demographics, so this is a decision that affects regional funding and resources for matters such as affordable housing, homelessness and transportation.
South Pasadena is presently in the 5th supervisorial district, which includes most of the foothill cities along the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, and reaches the borders of Ventura, Kern and San Bernardino counties. Kathryn Barger, who resides in San Marino, has been its supervisor since 2016 and won reelection last year.
The COI models presented at the council’s Oct. 26 study session were developed by the Los Angeles County Citizens Redistricting Commission, or CRC, based on feedback from 14 public hearing meetings. This commission is borne of state legislation requiring the appointment of independent groups to plan redistricting.
Each COI should, ideally, share common social and economic interests. Based on that criteria and public feedback, three currently proposed models include South Pasadena in their COI regions.
One such model groups South Pasadena with San Marino and lumps them with Los Angeles neighborhoods of Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Elysian Park. San Marino has long been a natural pairing for South Pasadena, and the two cities maintain a shared command structure for their fire departments, while South Pasadena and Highland Park share a significant border along the Arroyo Seco.
Another plan has South Pasadena in a district with Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena, which have formally adopted a “tri-city” branding identity and have all asked to be in a similar COI grouping. That cluster relies on the shared boundaries, service providers and political agreements in Pasadena, such as Pasadena Humane, the Arroyo Verdugo Communities Subregional Joint Powers Authority and Verdugo Fire Communications station in Glendale.
Ultimately, however, the council opted for the broader San Gabriel Valley COI proposal.
The model — which has a population of 1,793,251 — was selected with the membership in the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments in mind. The SGVCOG’s regional approach to water, stormwater, affordable housing and homelessness have been a benefit to South Pasadena, council members contended.
“There’s just much more of an interest in doing things on a cooperative, on a consolidated basis with that agency as opposed to the city of Los Angeles,” Mayor Diana Mahmud said.
City staff will direct the council’s comments to the Redistricting Commission. The commission is slated to hold more public hearings on Wednesdays in November as it considers the final districts ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline.