Redistricting Reshapes Burbank’s Representation

Data: U.S. Census Bureau and California Citizens Redistricting Commission

First published in the Jan. 15 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Recently finalized political maps separate Burbank from some of its traditional neighbors, a change that could boost Hispanic representation but has angered some members of the Armenian community.
Burbank will also find itself in a different state Assembly district from south Glendale and Pasadena, and a different congressional district than Pasadena and La Crescenta-Montrose. The new maps of the districts, which an independent California commission draws following each U.S. Census, also indicate that this year’s elections will bring Burbank a new state senator.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission submitted its final maps — which will remain in effect for the next decade — in late December. Besides setting the stage for a change in cities’ representatives following this year’s elections, in some cases, the new maps alter the voting populations of each district, potentially strengthening or weakening certain groups’ political influence.
Perhaps the most major change — in terms of both demographics and geography — is in Burbank’s California Senate region, now represented by state Sen. Anthony Portantino, as part of the 25th district. In the next election, Burbank will be part of the 20th state senate district. About 20% of voting-age citizens in the 25th district were Hispanic, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey available at the time of the 2011 redistricting process, while the new 20th district is more than 50% Hispanic, according to the CCRC.

Not all districts experienced such a significant shift. For example, when the CCRC drew district lines in 2011, less than 18% of voting-age citizens in Assembly District 43 — which included Burbank — were Hispanic. In the newly drawn Assembly District 44 — which includes Burbank and north Glendale, and adds Sunland-Tujunga, but excludes La Cañada Flintridge — just over 18% of voting-age citizens are Hispanic. About 11% of Assembly District 44’s voting-age citizen population is Asian, compared to the estimated 13% of Assembly District 43.
Because the population estimates were reported in 2011, it’s unclear how much of the shift resulted from redistricting rather than demographic changes that have occurred since then.
Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who is running for reelection to represent California Assembly District 44, may continue to represent Burbank. However, Portantino’s new district will span from Glendale to Arcadia — but will leave out “The Media Capital of the World.”
State Sen. Robert Hertzberg currently represents some of Burbank’s new 20th district — which includes Canoga Park, Van Nuys and Sylmar — but is ineligible to run for reelection this year as he has reached California’s term limit. His son, Daniel Hertzberg, has announced his intent to run for the 20th Senate district seat.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Burbank Democrat who represents the 30th Congressional District, also announced recently he is running for reelection in the district, which will continue to include Burbank and much of the rest of his current region.
The Armenian National Committee of America lobbied the CCRC for weeks to convince members to avoid separating districts with significant Armenian populations — particularly Burbank, Glendale and La Crescenta. Sarkis Simonian, chairman of ANCA Burbank, told the Leader that moving south Glendale into a different Assembly district will weaken the Armenian community’s voice.
“Unfortunately, every iteration of maps released by the redistricting commission has been worse than the one before, regardless of the thousands upon thousands of calls, letters and emails sent by residents educating the commission about the Armenian community and vital roles of keeping Burbank and Glendale together,” Simonian said. “At this stage, the only conclusion a reasonable person will come to is that the split is intentional to weaken the Armenian voice in the district.”
State law requires the CRCC to draw district lines by certain criteria, with the foremost guidelines being that boundaries must have roughly equal population and comply with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits redistricting that discriminates on the basis of race. The CRCC also cannot draw boundaries based on communities’ relationships with their current political representatives.