By Aaron Blevins, 8/02/2012
Lawsuit filed to alter new boundaries
As promised, attorneys representing residents of Koreatown filed suit on Tuesday challenging the Los Angeles City Council’s redistricting decision, saying that the city drew the boundaries of Council District 10 for racially-motivated reasons.
Attorney Hyongsoon Kim said the parties filed in federal court, claiming that redistricting, which resulted in Koreatown being split into two council districts, violates the U.S. Constitution and a Civil Rights statute. He said the council ignored traditional redistricting principles to increase the number of registered African-American voters in Council District 10.
“The city, in drawing the boundaries of CD 10, did so explicitly for race-based reasons,” Kim said, adding that several other communities were split to benefit that cause as well. “All of those things were done to get the precise racial composition they wanted.”
He said the city already has an African-American majority district, Council District 8, and the city moved some of the neighborhoods from that district into Council District 10. Kim said Koreatown residents would like to be in one district to strengthen the area’s political and economic voice.
While Koreatown residents and organizations have expressed an interest in having an Asian-American majority district, the lawsuit does not attempt to create one, Kim said. Residents just want to be represented by one city council member, he said.
“What happens after that is a completely separate issue,” Kim said. “It’s not really relevant to this suit.”
The lawsuit seeks to appoint a special master to redraw the districts to comply with laws and Constitutional provisions. Kim didn’t specify if that would be a team of individuals or just one person.
“We want to give the court the flexibility to fashion something that is appropriate,” he said, adding that his clients do not want the council to try again. “They’ve made it clear what their intent is.”
Kim said the lawsuit also aims to change a portion of the city charter that disallows residents from putting the council’s redistricting decision on a referendum. He said it violates the state’s Constitution.
When the matter will be heard in court depends on how the city responds to the lawsuit, Kim said. He said he should have a better idea in the next few months.
According to representatives of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the city has only received a courtesy copy of the lawsuit, and therefore, could not comment.
Attorneys from Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP and Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg are representing five clients from Koreatown, Peter Lee, Miri Park, Ho Sam Park, Geney Kim and Yonah Hong. Hyongsoon Kim said he is not sure if other lawsuits targeting the redistricting process will be filed by other organizations.