It’s too early to create district map suggestions for use in Goleta’s future elections because demographic data and pending legislation are not yet available. 

Goleta decided to move to district elections starting in November 2022

California election law provides some guidance about the process, City Clerk Deborah Lopez told the city’s Public Engagement Commission meeting on Wednesday.

Before map boundaries for the proposed districts are drawn, the city will be conducting two community-input forums spread over 30 days for residents to review and provide feedback on draft maps for future City Council district areas.

At least seven days after publishing maps of the boundaries for the proposed districts, Goleta must hold at least two more hearings over 45 days, at which the public is invited to provide comments.

The public hearings can’t begin before April 2021. 

The reason for waiting until 2022 for district elections is to allow Goleta to draw district maps based on the new 2020 census data expected to be released March 31, 2021, Lopez said.

“It starts with the census,” she said. “It starts with the public participating in the census.”

Before the hearings, the city could begin conducting outreach to the public, including to non-English-speaking communities, to explain the districting process and to encourage public engagement. 

This outreach will include providing information in English and Spanish through several outlets.

Commissioner Silvia Uribe likes the idea of spreading the word about the importance of the census, and informing non-English speaking communities about the district-election process.

“A lot of people within the Latino community, and elsewhere, do not understand the purpose or the workings of the census,” Uribe said. “Now, people are afraid, too.”

(President Donald Trump wanted to ask about citizenship on the upcoming census.)

The Public Engagement Commission and City Council will help consider the district lines of four new council districts within Goleta. The mayor will continue to be elected “at-large” by all registered Goleta voters.

Currently, all five council members are elected “at-large,” meaning all registered voters who reside in Goleta had the opportunity to vote for all five positions.

The Public Engagement Commission was created as part of the settlement agreement between the city and the Goleta District Elections Committee, which threatened litigation under the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.