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Bradbury Repeals Redistricting Plan

June 17, 2004|David Pierson | Times Staff Writer

The Bradbury City Council repealed a controversial plan to redraw the boundaries of its five council districts for the first time in 36 years Tuesday night, citing a need to allay fears that the plan was pitting the interests of residents in two gated communities against those outside the gates.

City Councilman Rick Barakat initiated a petition in May to nullify the new map, arguing it did not keep the districts contiguous and it unfairly gave more council representation to the gated communities.

Faced with either rejecting the petition or placing the issue on a ballot referendum, the council opted to reject it because of a clerical error, but repealed the proposed boundaries because of public discontent.

"The council decided that, with 161 people willing to sign the petition, they should go ahead and repeal the ordinance, hold public forums and get more public input," said City Manager Katie Wilson, who is overseeing the project.

Five forums will take place before drawing a new map, officials said. Four 7 p.m. meetings are scheduled at City Hall for June 24 and 29 and July 8 and 13. A final meeting will be on July 17 at 9 a.m.

"I think [the council] did the right thing," said Barakat of the unanimous decision to scrap the redrawn boundaries of the small San Gabriel Valley community. "The reason they did it is because the people wanted it."

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, the dispute appeared headed for court. Wilson said the city was considering asking a judge to certify that the council correctly rejected Barakat's petition for failing to identify on his signature forms what ordinance people were signing against. If a judge agreed, Barakat would not be able to sue the city for dismissing the petition.

"They tried to pull some legal hocus pocus on me and it didn't work," said Barakat, who believes he can still work effectively with the council.

"I'm not a grudge person," he said.

The redistricting effort has enlivened some of the affluent city's 1,074 residents, who say the redrawing was not publicized enough and divided some neighborhoods into separate districts.

The city's largest population growth in recent years occurred in Bradbury Estates, the bigger of the two gated communities. As a result, city officials, said it was necessary to split it into two districts to provide more equal council representation.

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