The City of Carpinteria is taking initial steps for a transition from “at-large” City Council elections to “district elections”. The change will bring the city into compliance with the California Voting Rights Act with the creation of five election districts.
Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the City will be holding a series of hybrid virtual and outdoor public hearings to invite the community to provide feedback, share community interests and suggestions for district lines in the City of Carpinteria.
The purpose of these hearings is to invite the community into the transition process, answer questions, and give the public an opportunity to raise concerns and provide feedback. The public is invited to provide input regarding their community of interest, the composition of the districts, the criteria to be used when determining the composition of districts, and other factors that should go into the drawing of maps of single-member voting districts. An online tool has been made available that will enable the public to craft their own maps defining their community of interest, and after the census data is released, their preferred district boundaries.
What is districting?
Districting is the process of creating election areas for the selection of councilmembers. Districts are built around communities, meant to empower local residents in selecting their councilmember. In order to ensure elections are fair, each councilmember will represent about the same number of constituents. In Carpinteria, the City Council will be responsible for drawing council districts with help from the community. The data for districting will be the 2020 Decennial Census.
Why does districting matter to me?
Districting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped into a district for purposes of electing a councilmember. The City Council will seek input in selecting the next district map based on the communities within Carpinteria, and how they can be empowered through the process. Every resident will have an opportunity to share with the City Council how they think district boundaries should be drawn to best represent their community.
How were councilmembers selected in the past?
Carpinteria City Council used a “at-large” format which allowed councilmembers to live in any part of the city and they were all selected in citywide elections. California has moved away from these kinds of elections in municipal government with the goal of ensuring elected officials are distributed within the community, and smaller groups of residents can be assured of having a strong voice in the election of their local representative.
What criteria will our City Council use when drawing district lines?
Following state and federal laws, and districting best practices, boundaries will be adopted using the following criteria:
- Each district will be comprised of one area – and all connected so it makes sense to residents.
- The Federal Voting Rights Act will be followed to ensure there is no discrimination or weakening of communities protected by the Act.
- Local neighborhoods and communities will be respected in a manner that minimizes its division and empowers its residents.
- The district lines will follow identifiable boundaries that follow natural or artificial barriers (rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, etc.)
- Boundaries will not be drawn with the interests of councilmember or candidate residences or for purposes of favoring or discriminating against a political party.
The Fair and Inclusive Redistricting for Municipalities and Political Subdivisions (FAIR MAPS) Act, passed by the Legislature mandates a set of criteria we must follow when drawing district plans.
To the extent practicable, district lines will be adopted using the following criteria:
- Relatively equal size – people, not citizens
- Contiguous – districts should not hop/jump
- Maintain “communities of interest”
- Follow city and census designated place boundaries
- Keep districts compact – appearance/function
How will the City Council notify the public about districting?
The City Council will reach out to local media to publicize the districting process. The city and staff will make a good faith effort to notify community groups of various kinds about the districting process.
Public hearings will be provided in applicable languages if residents submit a request in advance. The City Council will notify the public about districting hearings, post maps online before adoption, and create a dedicated web page for all relevant information about the districting process.
To request accommodations related to participation in the meeting, to receive additional information about by-district elections, or to ask questions, interested persons may contact firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: (805) 684-5405
The City maintains a webpage on the city’s districting process here: drawcarpinteria.com