Under Councilman Carroll's proposal, El Dorado Park south of Spring Street and the adjoining El Dorado Park South Neighborhood would become part of the 4th district. The area includes the current 5th district field office at Parks & Rec HQ, the El Dorado Golf Course, Los Altos Little League Fields, Skate Park, Municipal Band Site, Community Center and Senior Center, El Dorado Library, Community Gardens, Companion Animal Village, El Dorado Nature Center and WRD Water Reclamation Plant.
In exchange, the 5th district would receive an area from the northwest quadrant of the Traffic Circle to the Signal Hill city line.
For its part, the El Dorado Park South Neighborhood Association has written a letter to Mayor Beverly O'Neill, cc'd to the City Council, strongly urging that their neighborhood remain in the 5th district.
The letter by EPSNA President Grace Earl (reproduced in full, below) asks rhetorically, "Why trade the area south of airport for the area of EPSNA? Is this so that our lower crime statistics can help dilute the crime statistics of District 4?"
Councilwoman Kell told LBReport.com that while the area may once have been part of the 4th district, this was a long time ago, perhaps as distant as 1986. She added, "I think Dennis [Carroll] likes what he sees in the 5th district basically and that's what he wants."
Councilwoman Kell repeatedly stressed that based on population requirements for redistricting, there's no legal requirement to change the 5th district borders at all.
Her memo says that according to City Attorney Robert Shannon, traditional redistricting criteria include preservation of communities of interest, maintenance of contiguous districts of compact territory, preservation of population cores which have consistently been associated with particular districts and avoiding of large scale dislocations of district populations and recognition of inevitable historical topographic and geographic limitations on district boundaries.
Councilwoman Kell said in her memo, "It is my contention that all of these criteria could be violated if this proposal is accepted." [The memo does not claim the City Attorney has taken this position or any position on the controversy.]
Councilman Carroll told LBReport.com, "I think it's time to re-establish the 4th district's presence on the east side of town instead of being squeezed out of existence here...It would be an opportunity for us to have a more rightful presence [in ELB]."
Councilman Carroll cited figures to the effect that 5th district has roughly 993 acres of parks while the 4th district has 33 acres, which he calculates to mean roughly 96% of parks as between those two districts are in the 5th district. "That's not the historical division and I think it needs to be more equally drawn," Councilman Carroll said.
The Council will take public input on redistricting at its July 17 meeting (an already lengthy meeting which will also deal with the Scherer Park police station issue). The Council is then scheduled to draw (or redraw) district lines at a special meeting on July 24 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Within legal parameters, a majority of Councilmembers can effectively decide what the Council district lines are. It's unclear whether public input will be allowed at the July 24 afternoon meeting.
We have posted Councilwoman Kell's memo, a color map of the areas affected in pdf form, below. (If you don't have an Adobe reader letting you read pdf files, you can download one free at www.adobe.com. Make sure you click on the free version.)
The text of the letter by the El Dorado Park South Neighborhood Association is reproduced below:
July 13, 2001
Mayor Beverly O’Neill
333 West Ocean Blvd. 14th floor
Long Beach, CA 90802
Dear Honorable Mayor O’Neill:
El Dorado Park South Neighborhood Association (EPSNA) is one of the oldest and most active neighborhood associations in Council District 5. Our boundaries include Studebaker Road on the west, to San Gabriel River on the east, bracketed by Stearns Street to the north and Atherton Street to the south.
Over the last few years we have helped Council District 5 encourage other neighborhoods to develop neighborhood associations. EPSNA works closely with El Dorado Park West and El Dorado Estates neighborhood groups. As well, we are proud of the high percentage of voters in our housing tract who consistently go to the polls. Over the last 10 years we have been vigilant in working with the Police Department and District 5 to keep our crime statistics among the lowest in the city.
At one time, we were part of District 4 but we were redistricted to District 5. At that time we were told that it made more sense for us to be in District 5. Moreover, we continue to feel that way.
During the redevelopment of District 4’s Los Altos Shopping Center, all parties involved in the planning denied us to participate in any of the surveys. Our area was deemed to be too far away, and so our residents could not voice any opinion on the Los Altos development -- although we attended most of the meetings.
EPSNA, on the other hand, was a welcome participant in the groundbreaking and the opening of the Long Beach Towne Center. Unlike Los Altos Shopping Center, we were apprised of the plans and progress at the Towne Center, due largely in part to our close working relationship to Council District 5.
We understand redistricting is to help balance out the population of each council district. However, looking at the redistricting map we are wondering if "monopoly" is being played. Why trade the area south of the airport for the area of EPSNA? Is this so that our lower crime statistics can help dilute the crime statistics of District 4?
Why should District 4 be able to take the park area north of EPSNA? Parkland cannot vote. Neither can the animals that reside in the Nature Center or the new Animal Village. It would appear that some councilperson wants to make more "green" space for his district. In addition, the field office of Council District 5 is located in El Dorado Park West, which is within walking distance to our neighborhood.
Please stop playing monopoly games with the residents. What we have is working very smoothly -- there is no need to reinvent the wheel on this side of town.
Therefore, on behalf of the board members of EPSNA who voted to stay with Council District 5 and the 645 homes of this neighborhood association, please vote to keep our area in Council District 5.
cc: City Council