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Pico-Union and Beverly Hills don’t have much in common. Pico-Union is a largely poor and Latino area on the outskirts of Los Angeles, while the almost entirely white and suburban Beverly Hills community is one of the most affluent in the nation. But in the first draft of redistricting maps released by the California Citizens Redistricting Committee, these two neighborhoods occupy the same Congressional district. Can these two communities with vastly different demographics be fairly represented by the same Congressman?

Angelica Solis, executive of the Los Angeles Latino advocacy group Alliance for a Better Community, does not think so.

“Pico-Union already faces existing challenges to political participation. By redrawing district lines that place Pico-Union in a map with communities like Beverly Hills and Malibu, which don’t share the same needs, the commission has virtually erased recent political gains for the area.”

Neither does Rosalind Gold, the senior director of policy, research, and advocacy at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

“Latinos cannot have a chance for fair representation in such a district,” Gold said. “We can’t tell you why [the commission] combined those areas— it’s baffling.”

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, a member of NALEO, represents California’s 31st district, which currently includes Pico Union but not Beverly Hills or Malibu. Like Gold, Becerra does not understand why the wealthy suburb was added to his district.

Becerra (D-Los Angeles) said he was trying to figure out “what was going through the commissioners’ minds” in creating a district that put struggling Pico Union and spiffy Beverly Hills in the same district.

Whether or not it makes sense, though, Becerra may soon represent both the richest and poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. [Contra Costa Times] [New American Media] [LA Times]

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