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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 12:41 am | Fog/Mist 47º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Council Begins Review of District Election Maps But Delays Decision

The City Council must adopt a final map when it meets next Monday in order to meet a deadline imposed by the lawsuit settlement agreement

Attorney Barry Cappello, at podium, represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that caused Santa Barbara to implement district elections. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, he called most of the district maps submitted by the public “unacceptable” under the plaintiffs’ settlement agreement with the city.
Attorney Barry Cappello, at podium, represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that caused Santa Barbara to implement district elections. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, he called most of the district maps submitted by the public “unacceptable” under the plaintiffs’ settlement agreement with the city. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara residents came up with 18 district election maps for a six-way split of the city, but the City Council most likely will adopt one similar, if not identical, to the one submitted by the plaintiffs in the district elections legal battle.

The city’s settlement agreement in the California Voting Rights Act case avoids a trial but forces the city to implement district council elections this November and create six new council districts. The agreement requires two of those districts to have a majority population of Latino citizens of voting age.

Most of the plaintiffs — Frank Banales, Benjamin Cheverez and Jacqueline Inda — were present at Tuesday’s council meeting along with their attorney, Barry Cappello.

Cappello called almost every community-drawn map “unacceptable” under the settlement agreement, saying most of them don’t have two majority-Latino districts. His clients are most supportive of Draft Map 1, which they submitted, and Draft Map 3, which has the same boundaries for the two majority Latino districts on the Westside and Eastside neighborhoods of the city.

“Please, do what you want with the other districts — have at it,” he told the council. “But the two districts that we worked so hard on for our settlement agreement, we’re very protective.”

Cappello insisted he and his clients want to resolve the district maps without going to court. The City Council has to adopt a final map on Monday due to the March 31 deadline imposed by the settlement agreement.

Council members were worn out by the day’s hours-long planning appeal for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History before this discussion even began, so they adjourned at 9 p.m. and delayed the final decision to next week’s meeting.

They reviewed all of the submitted maps with consultant Doug Johnson of the National Demographics Corporation and threw out most of them without consideration, due to Cappello’s criticisms. If the plaintiffs don’t accept the city’s final map, a Superior Court judge will hold a hearing to determine the district maps, according to City Attorney Ariel Calonne.

There was some public and council support for the plan dubbed SB Community Plan 2, which the council will consider along with the two draft plan maps next week.

Taking their cues from public comments, council members said it was important to keep the Oak Park neighborhood and Brinkerhoff Avenue with the downtown district.

People argued against including the Samarkand community with Oak Park or downtown, but Johnson pointed out that it has a large population. If Samarkand moves out of one district into the district with San Roque and Hidden Valley, that population total will have to be offset somewhere else, perhaps cutting San Roque into multiple districts, he noted.

​The City Council is expected to make a final decision at a meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in the City Hall Council Chambers at 735 Anacapa St.

Draft Map 3 is the map preferred by the plaintiffs in the district elections lawsuit and the map most members of the public used as a base for their own maps submitted to the city. (City of Santa Barbara photo)

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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