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Cities to Fight Redistricting for Board of Supervisors : Politics: The mayor of San Dimas is coordinating an effort to draw up an alternate plan that would place most of the valley in the same district.

November 15, 1990|MIKE WARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cities dissatisfied with the political splintering of the San Gabriel Valley under a federally mandated reapportionment of the County Board of Supervisors are collecting money to hire their own experts to draw up a plan that would place most of the area in one supervisorial district.

San Dimas Mayor Terry Dipple is spearheading the effort by the San Gabriel Valley Assn. of Cities to develop the plan by next year, when lines are drawn for the 1992 County Board of Supervisors elections. The plan would also enlarge the board from five members to seven.

Dipple has asked 32 cities to contribute $500 each to hire National Demographics Corp. of Claremont--at a total cost of $22,500--to draw proposed supervisorial boundaries, using 1990 census data. He said he is also soliciting $1,000 donations from a number of corporations, which he refused to name.

Cities that have agreed to contribute include Alhambra, Arcadia, Azusa, Glendora, La Puente and San Dimas.

The proposed lines would be submitted to the Board of Supervisors next year for consideration during reapportionment.

The key element in the cities' plan would be expansion of the board.

Without expansion, Dipple said, it would be impossible to keep most of the San Gabriel Valley intact and also meet a court mandate to provide a Latino district.

U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon in August ordered a drastic revision of supervisorial districts after concluding that the county had drawn boundaries in a way that discriminated against Latinos. The court-ordered reapportionment converted the 1st Supervisorial District, now represented by Supervisor Pete Schabarum, into a predominantly Latino district.

Kenyon added East Los Angeles to the 1st District and removed such cities as Covina, Claremont, Glendora, Pomona, Temple City and West Covina, shifting them into Supervisor Mike Antonovich's 5th District. In addition, Walnut and Diamond Bar were shifted into the 4th District, a largely coastal area represented by Supervisor Deane Dana.

Although the Board of Supervisors is still challenging the reapportionment in court, an election to choose a successor to Schabarum in the new 1st District is scheduled for Jan. 22.

Dipple said the fragmentation of Schabarum's old district will reduce the San Gabriel Valley's clout on regional issues.

For example, he said, his own city, San Dimas, will be represented by Antonovich, whose constituencies have included Glendale, Burbank and the San Fernando Valley. Dipple said Antonovich is unlikely to pay as much attention to San Dimas and other cities in the East San Gabriel Valley when most of his constituents live elsewhere.

"We have so much at stake," Dipple said. San Gabriel Valley cities are just beginning to address transportation, waste management, air quality and other issues on a regional basis, he said. "We're really becoming a force now, and it's important to stay in one group."

Dipple said many officials in San Gabriel Valley cities with high Latino populations would prefer to be in a supervisorial district serving the region rather than one linked to East Los Angeles. "The Latino makeup and philosophy in the San Gabriel Valley is different from East Los Angeles," Dipple said.

San Gabriel Mayor James Castaneda, a Latino whose city was moved to the new 1st District from Antonovich's 5th district, agreed. "The San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles are different places," he said. "We have different needs."

But Castaneda said San Gabriel declined to contribute money to the San Gabriel Valley Assn. of Cities project because the courts have already acted on redistricting.

Dipple said San Gabriel and some other cities apparently misunderstood the purpose of the proposed redistricting project. He said he is sending a letter to cities pointing out that regardless of the court case, supervisorial districts must be redrawn next year to reflect population changes from the 1990 census and that now is the time to prepare recommendations.

Like Dipple, Castaneda said the best way to serve everyone's interests would be to expand the Board of Supervisors.

Richard P. Fajardo, staff attorney with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the reapportionment suit, said the board would have to expand to seven or even nine districts in order to draw boundaries that would serve the regional interests of the San Gabriel Valley and also meet the needs of Latinos.

Otherwise, he said, cities such as El Monte, La Puente and Irwindale would have to be part of a Latino district in order to preserve a Latino majority. In the new 1st District, which stretches from East Los Angeles to La Puente and south to Santa Fe Springs, Latinos are 51% of the registered voters.

In Monterey Park, Mayor Judy Chu said her city, which is within the 1st Supervisorial District under the court reapportionment, would be better off in a district centered in the San Gabriel Valley.

"There has to be some attempt made to deal with regional interests," she said.

Even before the court-ordered reapportionment, Monterey Park was isolated from other San Gabriel Valley cities. Monterey Park has been the only San Gabriel Valley city in the 3rd District, a San Fernando Valley-Hollywood-East Los Angeles district represented by Edmund D. Edelman. Chu said Edelman has been helpful to Monterey Park, but the city should be represented by a supervisor whose concerns are focused on the San Gabriel Valley.

Pasadena, Alhambra and South Pasadena are already represented by Antonovich and would remain in his district under the court-ordered reapportionment. Alhambra Councilman Michael Blanco said his city "has had a pretty good working relationship" with Antonovich and is not eager to change supervisorial districts.

Pasadena Mayor Jess Hughston said the principal problem is that the Board of Supervisors is too small.

"The five-member board is inadequate," he said, "and I wonder if two more would be enough."

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