Pixel Tracker

Monday, December 10 , 2018, 1:47 am | Fair 51º

 
 
 
 

Santa Maria Council Picks Final Map For District-Based Elections

Future members will represent four areas of the city, with mayor elected at-large

Members of the public who attended a Santa Maria City Council meeting Tuesday night overwhelmingly support an election-district mp — J1 — not chosen. Council members voted 4-1 to choose the map known as N-1. Click to view larger
Members of the public who attended a Santa Maria City Council meeting Tuesday night overwhelmingly support an election-district mp — J1 — not chosen. Council members voted 4-1 to choose the map known as N-1. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The City Council has picked a final map carving Santa Maria into four segments to implement district-based elections, choosing an option some speakers Tuesday night said appeared to involve gerrymandering.

A smaller crowd, approximately 40 people, showed up at the Minami Community Center for Tuesday’s hearing, held during a regular City Council meeting.

Council members voted 4-1 to choose the map labeled N-1 and drafted by its consultant while, also choosing Districts 3 and  4 as the first to select their own representatives in 2018.

Councilman Michael Moats cast the lone opposition vote. 

Residing in those districts are current Councilman Jack Boysen and Councilwoman Etta Waterfield, whose terms expire in 2018.

That means voters will pick representatives for Districts 1 and 2, generally the city’s northwest and northeast areas, in 2020. Those terms are now held by Councilman Mike Cordero, who lives in District 2, and Moats, who lives in District 3.

Under the threat of litigation, Santa Maria has been on a fast track to craft what the districts would look like to meet a late May deadline. District-based elections will replace the current system where members are voted at-large.

Map N1 was chosen by the Santa Maria City Council for the new council districts. Click to view larger
Map N1 was chosen by the Santa Maria City Council for the new council districts. (Contributed)

A key factor for the final map involved where current council members live to ensure two pairs don’t reside within the same district, for what city officials called continuity of government.

“I think it’s just important that we make sure that which ever map we choose, we try to avoid those head-to-head conflicts as much as possible,” Boysen said. 

Previously, council members agreed they could not avoid pairing Boysen and Moats in the same district since they live on the same street. 

Boysen, Waterfield and Cordero said map N-1, drawn by consultant National Demographics Corporation, best met the criteria sought by the council and required voter rights laws.

After hearing from dozens of speakers during four public hearings, the council members created criteria for districts including some suggestions made from the audience members. The council criteria included that each member should have a piece of downtown and consideration of renters. 

Speakers Tuesday night overwhelmingly favored a different map, J-1, contending the other two options featured gerrymandering to protect current council members.

But council members noted Map J-1 showed a drastically uneven number of renters among the districts, with one having 76 percent and another having 38 percent.

“That’s not even remotely close,” Cordero said. 

Map J1 was favored by audience members Tuesday night, but was not chosen by the Santa Maria City Council for the new council districts. Click to view larger
Map J1 was favored by audience members Tuesday night, but was not chosen by the Santa Maria City Council for the new council districts. (Contributed)

“I’m trying desperately to understand the love for Map J,” he added.

One map, H-1, drew strong opposition and a letter of concern from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund because it paired low-income neighborhoods west of Broadway with Hancock Park, upper-income residences near Marian Regional Medical Center. 

To unite those two areas, the map had a narrow strip.

“It almost looks like something the County of Santa Barbara would have drawn up to protect their districts,” Boysen said.

Speakers contended the map ultimately picked also involved gerrymandering.

Moats noted the map is only temporary since the U.S. Census is looming in 2020, when districts could be redrawn once the city receives the new population data in 2021

“Whatever map you chose, each district will hold one election and then we’ll revisit before any district holds a second election,” said Douglas Johnson, NDC president.

Once fully implemented, the district-based elections system will require a council member to live in the district and only voters in that area will select their representative.

While each of the four council members will represent a district, the job of mayor still will be elected at large.

The final vote to implement the district-based system will come during the council’s May 16 meeting after a public hearing at City Hall.

The council’s action came after listening to a number of speakers and complying with requests from CAUSE and MALDEF to have at least one district with a Latino majority on the ballot in 2018, City Manager Rick Haydon said.

“In addition, the district map the council chose is comprised of three out of four districts having Latino majority, which is more than what the law requires or that CAUSE and MALDEF requested,” Haydon added.

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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.