A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a three-year-old legal challenge to the boundaries drawn for Los Angeles’ 15 City Council districts, saying she found no evidence that race was the predominant factor in creating the new maps. U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall said lawyers for the city provided “undisputed evidence” that the boundaries approved by the council achieved “traditional non-racial redistricting” goals, such as keeping distinct communities and neighborhood councils in the same district. The ruling delivered a major victory to council President Herb Wesson, who presided over the once-a-decade redistricting process and is now seeking a third term in Tuesday’s election. The decision also dealt a blow to a group of Koreatown residents who argued that the map-making process diluted the neighborhood’s voting power and unlawfully divided it into multiple districts.
Foes of the 2012 redistricting vote maintained that Wesson’s district, which stretches from Koreatown to the Crenshaw corridor, was drawn primarily based on race, with council members explicitly working to increase the percentage of African American voters within its borders. Opponents said a district in South Los Angeles, now represented by Councilman Curren Price, was also racially gerrymandered.
In her decision, Marshall described both districts as geographically compact and racially diverse, unlike those that have been struck down in other federal court cases. The demographics, she said, “do not support plaintiffs’ claim that the city … engaged in the ‘unlawful segregation of races of citizens into different voting districts,’” she wrote.