Council to Lay Out Redistricting Process

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – It seems like the city of Davis just did this.  In quick fashion in 2019, the city of Davis, responding to a potential lawsuit by Matt Rexroad on behalf of his clients, Davis shifted to a district election system and drew maps for the 2020 election.

But 2020 will likely be the only time those maps are used.  In preparation for the 2022 November election—the next council election—and for the next decade, the city will now undergo a redistricting process.

“Following each decennial census, cities are required to review, and if necessary adjust, the boundaries of its districts to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act,” city staff wrote. “Even though the City of Davis recently transitioned to districts, we must still engage in the process of redistricting using 2020 census data.”

In 2022, elections in District 1 (Dan Carson) and District 4 (Gloria Partida) will take place.  While that completes the full transition to district elections, it also means the previous boundaries were never used for those two districts.

Costs related to the redistricting process are in the current budget and will be funded through the General Fund.

“Redistricting Partners will provide demographer services at a cost of $44,000, and an online community engagement mapping software license was purchased for $7,000,” staff reports.

The city is proposing a schedule that will begin on November 2, 2021, and end on February 15, 2022  They will receive input, share first drafts of the maps by January, finalize the maps on February 1, and two weeks later they will vote on the final version of the maps.

In order to get there, “City Council must hold at least four public hearings to provide input regarding the composition of districts. The early hearing(s) are intended to explain the process and gather information; the subsequent 2-3 hearings are to share draft maps and ultimately approve a final map.”

As before, the public will be requested to provide input regarding Communities of Interest.

“The COI feedback relating to the 2022 redistricting process will help City Council in considering how any proposed changes to the 2019 districts may impact protected classes or other identified groups,” staff writes.  “Some COI are considered ‘protected classes’ in that they have rights through civil rights or voting rights laws.”

In Davis, that is everything from locations, to demographic groups, to students and renters.

According to staff, “Maps must be based on legally required redistricting criteria and take into consideration many things, including the existing lines from the 2019 district map, census blocks, voting precinct, neighborhood associations, existing planning areas, major roads, and COI feedback.”

In addition, “Cities must redistrict based on total population data (including population adjusted to count incarcerated people at their home address, not their prison address). Districts must be substantially equal in population, although deviations of less than 10% are generally constitutionally acceptable.”

The following legally required criteria, in order of priority, must be observed when redrawing districts:

  1. Districts must be geographically contiguous.
  2. Districts must respect the geographic integrity of local neighborhoods or communities of interest in a manner that minimizes its division (population that shares common social or economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation).
  3. District boundaries must be easily identifiable and understandable by residents. To the extent practicable, council districts should be bounded by natural and artificial barriers, by streets, or by the boundaries of the city.
  4. To the extent practicable, and where it does not conflict with the preceding criteria, districts should be drawn to encourage geographical compactness in a manner that nearby areas of population are not bypassed in favor of more distant populations.
  5. Districts shall not favor or discriminate against a political party.

According to early data released from the 2020 decennial census, Davis’ population is 66,850, which translates to an ideal district size of 13,370 each,” staff writes.

Finally, staff notes they are “not recommending City Council pursue a commission process at this time.”

They write, “The City recently conducted an extensive community process in late 2019 during the transition from at-large to by-district elections. Time and effort was spent by City Council on education and outreach to educate and involve the public.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Edgar Wai

    If everyone votes once, what should matter is that for a 5 member council, anyone who gets at least 1/5 of the eligible votes is elected. The district doesn’t matter.

    If the city alternately vote on half of the members, then the math is that those who still has their choice serving a term cannot vote. (The result is what you could call an endorsement system. Each person may only endorsement one member, so if that member is still serving, the person can’t endorse another member without recalling their endorsement on the original.)

    Districting has the effect of divide and conquer. It would cause a 40% minority to gain no representation in the 5 member council unless they self segregate themselves to form their majority districts.

    On the other hand, if the system just let any candidate who got at least 1/5 votes win, then the 40% minority would get 2 seats without redistricting.

  2. Keith Y Echols

    Hmm…If Davis were Westeros (missing 2 district/kingdoms), that would make District 3 the North?

    County Road 29 would be the Wall.  Woodland would be the far North where the Others/White Walkers come from.  West Sac/Sacramento would be the continent of Essos.

    So my question is which of the districts has the dragons?

  3. Alan Miller

    As I stated when this evil came upon us, when the boundaries are changed there will be voters along the borders who will change districts.  If they were in a district that didn’t get to vote in the last election and are moved to a formerly neighboring district, some will end up not voter in either election, and will be therefore disenfranchised.  I hope that any voters experiencing this will jointly sue the City and maybe put an end to our districting nightmare era.

  4. Ron Oertel

    So I already knew this, but it appears that this will solidify Gloria Partida’s position (and outright advocacy) regarding DISC (and probably other proposed peripheral developments in that same area) as being firmly out-of-step with her own district. I am sure that some will “remind” others of that.

    What about Josh Chapman and his district, in regard to that?

  5. Matt Williams

    I guess the commitment to an independent citizens redistricting fell by the wayside.  Lucas Frerichs was the most noticeable voice in support of that approach, but his voice has been silent on that topic of late.

    1. David Greenwald

      My first thought is why is it necessary to do that? There aren’t clearly defined political lines, there isn’t a geographic center of power in Davis, etc.

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