First published in the Jan. 28 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
The recent state redistricting process will change South Pasadena’s state Assembly representative this year while placing the city in regions with significant Asian American populations.
Specifically, following this year’s elections, South Pasadena will no longer be represented by state Assemblyman Chris Holden of Pasadena. It will instead fall under a new district whose representative has yet to be determined.
The new maps of the state’s political districts, which an independent California commission draws following each U.S. Census, largely incorporate South Pasadena with its San Gabriel Valley neighbors to the southeast. 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.
In South Pasadena’s case, all three of the boundary changes include the city in districts with major Asian American populations.
The redrawn lines, which go into effect with the June primary elections, situate South Pasadena in Assembly District 49, which includes El Monte, Monterey Park, San Marino and Alhambra. South Pasadena is currently in Assembly District 41, which includes Pasadena and Altadena.
Former Assemblyman Edwin Chau may have represented South Pasadena and other cities in the 49th Assembly District, but he resigned in December to become a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. Voters of Chau’s former district are slated to vote in a primary election in February and a general election in April for his successor. Because those elections will occur before the new Assembly District 49 boundaries go into effect, according to Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk spokesman Mike Sanchez, South Pasadena residents will not be able to vote in those elections.
Whoever wins the race will fulfill the remainder of Chau’s term, which ends at the beginning of next January. Residents of South Pasadena and the rest of the 49th Assembly District will vote for their next representative in the June primary election and potentially the November general election.
South Pasadena’s congressional district will largely remain the same, though it will be renumbered from the 27th Congressional District to the 28th and will add La Cañada Flintridge. U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, a Monterey Park Democrat, said she is running for reelection this year to oversee the district.
Senate District 25, which includes South Pasadena in both the current and future maps, will lose Burbank and Sunland-Tujunga while gaining Arcadia, Monterey Park and Rosemead. State Sen. Anthony Portantino, who currently represents the district, will continue to do so through at least 2024.
All three of the new maps place South Pasadena in boundaries with noticeably concentrated Asian American voting populations. About 9.9% of voting-age citizens in Assembly District 41 identified as Asian, according to Census estimates used in the 2011 redistricting process, while the same population has an estimated share of 52.9% in the new district. Additionally, Hispanic voting-age citizens increased their representation from 23.4% to 28.1%.
About 11.5% of voting-age citizens in Senate District 25 identified as Asian, while an estimated 30.3% of voting-age citizens of the newly drawn Senate District 25 identified as the same.
Congressional District 27 already had a significant citizen voting-age Asian population, about 31.6% around the time of the 2011 redistricting. Congressional District 28 has an estimated 35.3% population for the same group.
However, 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.
More than one-third of South Pasadena residents identify as Asian, according to 2020 Census estimates, not including those who identify both as Asian and another racial group.
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.