LOS ANGELES—The ANCA North and West San Fernando Valley Chapters, along with the ANCA Hollywood Chapter, organized the Armenian American communities of their respective areas to make a strong presence at the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission hearings earlier this month and voice concern about being properly represented within city districts before the City Council adopts a final plan of newly redrawn district boundaries for the next ten years.
While the evening of Wednesday, January 4 marked just one of the roughly 20 public hearings held since early December by the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, the hearing was an important one for both the West San Fernando Valley (Encino) and the North San Fernando Valley (North Hills) Chapters of the ANCA, who attended as local representatives of the Armenian community within Council District 4.
“It is vital to inform the commission where our Armenian schools, churches, community centers and businesses are located to make sure that those specific places and the communities they serve stay intact when city district lines are redrawn,” said John Tashtchian, board member of the West San Fernando Valley ANCA.
The January 4 hearing saw the participation of many dozens of members of various Armenian organizations of the Valley, among them, the Armenian Relief Society’s Anahid Chapter, the Armenian Youth Federation’s Sardarabad Chapter, the Holy Martyrs School Board, and the Armenian Cultural Foundation, as well as individual businessmen, church parishioners, and community leaders. Such participation speaks to the organizational energy of local ANCA chapters, who approached these community stakeholders to take part in the redistricting process.
The ANCA of Hollywood, in their turn, ensured the presence of a large group of community representatives of Little Armenia at the Monday, January 9, public hearing in Council District 13. Along with local business leaders, university students and church parishioners, Armenian representatives of the East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the Armenian Youth Federation’s Musa Dagh Chapter also attended the hearing.
Attendees were given two minutes of speaking time in front of the Commission. Others submitted written testimony which the Commission, a 21-person body, will also evaluate before March 1, when final map proposals for each of the 15 districts of Los Angeles will be adopted. The maps adopted by the Los Angeles City Council, following the Commission’s proposal, will remain in effect for ten years.
“Armenians, as individuals and as a community, deserve fair representation on all future city councils,” said AYF Sardarabad Chapter member, Patil Aslanian.
Specifically, the ANCA of the West San Fernando Valley explained to the Commission that there are four council districts that overlap within a three-mile radius in the Valley, which divides the Armenian vote and dilutes the community’s effective representation.
The Hollywood community reiterated these concerns in the CD 13 hearing. “Currently, the Armenian community is split into two city council districts, CD 4 and CD 13, governed by Tom Labonge and Eric Garcetti, respectively,” said ANCA Hollywood board member Tereza Yerimyan. “Constituents in Hollywood expressed their concern for this split and encouraged the Commission to keep the Armenian constituency whole so that Armenians Americans have optimal representation in their City Council District,” she added.
Additionally, CD 13 encompasses not only Little Armenia, but Thai Town, Koreatown, and Historic Filipino Town as well. “It was absolutely necessary for the Armenian community of Little Armenia to be actively present at the hearing as representatives of a historic enclave of Hollywood,” said ANCA Hollywood board member Srbui Karapetian.
Not only did attendance at these hearings show the commission that the Armenian American communities of Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley are civically engaged, but that they have an invested interest in the outcome of the Redistricting Commission’s decision.
The ANCA-Western Region office, along with local ANCA Chapters, strongly urges Armenian American residents of Los Angeles County to continue writing to the Redistricting Commission to ensure that the Armenian community is adequately represented in future city council districts.
Public hearings will again be held through February before the final redistricting plan is adopted in March. The Armenian community is strongly encouraged to attend the next series of public hearings, as they will play a decisive role in the way our community is shaped for ten years to come.