A Los Angeles City Council redistricting plan that would place Michael Woo, the council's only Asian member, in a heavily Latino district was approved by the council's Charter and Elections Committee on Friday after a contentious, marathon public hearing.
The plan, approved on a 2-1 vote with Woo dissenting, will go before the full council Tuesday. Woo said he will present to the council his own alternative proposal, which would allow him to keep Hollywood in his district--but at the expense of Councilman John Ferraro, who would lose most of the Wilshire area.
The council has agreed to redraw its district lines in response to a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit alleging that the city's 1982 reapportionment discriminates against Latinos by diluting their voting strength.
Needs Bradley Approval
The redistricting plan must also be approved by Mayor Tom Bradley, who has not taken a stand, before it is presented to a federal court judge for approval before July 31.
Committee Chairman Richard Alatorre, who drafted the approved plan, voted for it along with the third committee member, Hal Bernson. Alatorre contended that Woo's plan, while purporting to create a Latino majority in a new Ferraro district, falls short of its goal because the new district would include a high number of non-citizens.
"You're getting population, but you're not getting voters," Alatorre told Woo.
During a full day of committee hearings Thursday, a number of Latino groups made similar complaints about Alatorre's plan.
Armando Duron, president of the Mexican American Bar Assn., said the new 13th District "will not be a 'Latino district' as promised" because of a "high concentration of non-citizens and under-aged citizens . . . a low registration and low voter turnout."
Alatorre said Friday that he may have to shift the district lines in his proposal slightly but believes he can convince Latino groups that his plan is the best choice.
Woo Supporters' Criticism
During the hearing, Alatorre also came under stiff criticism by Woo supporters who argued that Alatorre's plan would carve the Hollywood area into several districts, thus hurting Woo's chances for reelection. Woo's political base is centered in Hollywood.
Alatorre told Woo on Friday that the Alatorre plan "is not anything personal. We came up with a plan that meets the concerns of the Justice Department."
Woo, however, said, "I find it difficult to believe that the (federal) court will accept a plan which pits the city's two fastest-growing ethnic groups against each other."
Alatorre said Friday that he remains confident his plan will win the necessary eight-vote majority of the 15-member council when it hears the matter Tuesday. But Woo contended that neither he nor Alatorre has eight firm votes. Neither councilman would publicly list his supporters.
"I wasn't surprised" by the committee vote, Woo said. "I think it was sort of a foregone conclusion. The real battleground will be the mayor and the City Council."