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Officials balk at voting districts

But they continue to look at study commissioned by schools.

February 17, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
(By Audrey Fukuman )

About a year ago, Councilman Ara Najarian moved four miles south from his home on a quiet, tree-lined street in the Montecito Park area in North Glendale to the denser city center.

“I see the parking issue first-hand. I see the noise issue first-hand. I see the large-item pick-up issue first hand,” said Najarian, who was first elected to the council in 2005. “I’ve heard about these before, but until you’re actually living there, you don’t feel the pain that the others have.”

In the past three decades, records show, only one council member has lived below the Ventura (134) Freeway at the time they were elected — and that was in Adams Hill, a neighborhood filled with architecturally-rich homes and vintage lampposts.

The other four current City Council members live north of the freeway, an area of the city known for its historic and more affluent neighborhoods. The area south of the freeway is home to much of the city’s industrial and commercial activity and contains considerably less open space, as well as most of Glendale’s multi-family housing. In addition, the densest Latino and Armenian populations reside south of the freeway.

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Glendale elects its office holders at-large, meaning elected officials can live anywhere within the city limits. However, a study commissioned by Glendale Unified School District and Glendale Community College may challenge the status quo.

The California Voting Rights Act mandates districts if a particular racial group has been traditionally disenfranchised by an at-large system, said Paul Mitchell, of Sacramento’s Redistricting Partners, who conducted the study.

He lists two possible plans splitting Glendale into five districts. Each plan would lump most current and former council members since the 1980s into one district.

The four most Latino neighborhoods — Pacific-Edison, Riverside-Rancho, Grand Central and Tropico — have not elected anyone to office in the past three decades, records show. About 30% of the population of those neighborhoods are Latino.

Though considerably smaller in population than Glendale, Pasadena adopted election districts several years ago over concern of federal rules protecting minority votes.

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