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Lompoc Residents Urged To Submit Maps For Proposed Council Districts

Lompoc is transitioning to district elections for its four City Council members. A National Demographics Corporation map shows where the current Lompoc City Council members live. Click to view larger
Lompoc is transitioning to district elections for its four City Council members. A National Demographics Corporation map shows where the current Lompoc City Council members live. (Contributed photo)

Lompoc residents were urged to weigh in about how the city should be carved into four districts for electing City Council members in the future, and the city introduced a new online tool created for the process. 

A second public hearing held Tuesday night in the process to switch to district-based elections, instead of at-large voting, focused on criteria for drawing district maps. 

“We are looking for the public to offer thoughts as how draft maps should be drawn or to actually draw them themselves and bring them in,” said Doug Johnson, president of National Demographic Corporation.

The city decided to change to district elections after being threatened with a lawsuit alleging California Voting Rights Act violations. Other cities in the county have faced the same threat and undertaken the transition.

Maps must consider keeping communities of interest, or neighborhoods, together and have a similar number of residents, approximately 9,800 people each, the consultant said. 

Residents can have a say by submitting proposed maps, with starter kits available on a special website available online here.

The website also includes maps showing the percentage of Latino citizens of voting age by U.S. Census tract, renters by Census tract, locations where council members currently reside, and areas with household incomes of $75,000 or higher.

One map kit shows populations in various areas of the city and another identifies communities of interest by listing parks.  

A more complex digital map-drawing tool allows people to draw districts Census block by Census block, like professional demographers. The tool allows users to fine-tune proposed lines for making districts and see, in detail, the resulting demographics, the consultant said.

The city set Oct. 26 as the deadline for the public to submit draft maps, which will be posted to the city website and available at City Hall by Oct. 31.

Hearings to review the draft maps are planned during City Council meetings on Nov. 7 and 21.

“The third and fourth hearings tend to be a lot more interesting and a lot more public comment because there’s actual maps to react to,” Johnson said. 

Only two people spoke during public comment Tuesday, with resident Don Buck asking if the districts accounted for undocumented residents, to which the consultant said “all human beings” are considered in the tally except for inmates at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex.

Another Lompoc resident, Rob Traylor, called on the council to avoid drawing maps protecting existing members or reducing competition, saying they would face consequences. 

“Again, I think this process is about increasing representativeness, not consolidating your own power,” he said. 

For the five-member City Council, the two-year term of mayor will continue to be an at-large position, selected by citywide voters. 

The council elections for the first two members to represent districts will occur in 2018, with the other two members to be picked in the 2020 election.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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