City Council Voting Districts

The City currently utilizes an at-large election system where voters citywide select each of the five City Council Members.  By contrast, a district-based election system is one in which a city is physically divided into separate districts, each with one council member who resides in the district and is chosen solely by the voters residing in that district.  The City received a certified letter on March 29, 2018, from Kevin Shenkman, an attorney with the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes in Malibu, California. The letter asserts that the City’s at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act by diluting the ability of Latinos to elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of Los Alamitos’ City Council elections.  Mr. Shenkman claims “polarized voting” may be occurring and threatens litigation if the City declines to voluntarily convert to district-based elections.  The California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”), codified as Elections Code sections 14025 et seq. became law on January 1, 2003.  The purpose of the CVRA is to prevent the disenfranchisement of protected classes; which are broadly defined to include members of a race, color, or language minority group.  Any voter who resides in a city and is a member of a protected class may file a lawsuit against the city for a violation of the CVRA.  To succeed, the plaintiff must only show that, as a result of an at-large election, “racially polarized voting” has occurred. “Racially polarized voting” means there is a difference between the choice of candidates preferred by voters in a protected class and candidates preferred by voters in the remainder of the voting population.
 
 
What is the timeline for this change?
The districting process timeline is prescribed by the California Elections Code, Section 10010.  The City had a 45 day period from the receipt of the certified letter to consider if it desired to transition to election by districts and to adopt a resolution indicating so.  Once the City Council adopted a resolution indicating its intent to transition to districts, the City had 90 days to do so.  In order to stay within the State’s safe harbor protections and avoid potentially costly legal exposure in the event of a California Voting Rights Act challenge, the process had to be completed within a 90-day window.

 

Resolutions

 

Public Hearing Notices

 

Staff Reports

 

Share your thoughts at a Meeting
As with any issue before the City Council, you can attend a forum, testify at a hearing, and/or encourage the Council to vote yes or no on any part of this process by simply coming to any of the public meetings on this topic.

 

Share your thoughts in Writing
You do not have to wait for a meeting to weigh in: you can call, e-mail or write to the Council with your thoughts at any time:

Windmera Quitnanar, CMC, City
3191 Katella Ave.
Los Alamitos, CA  90720
Phone: (562) 431-3538, ext. 220
E-email: wquintanar(at)cityoflosalamitos.org

Any thoughts you share with the City Clerk will be shared with the City’s demographic consultant and with the entire City Council.

 

Draw your own Map
Districting is an unusual issue: instead of simply urging the Council to vote yes or no on a given map, with Districting you can take the next step and draw and submit your own preferred map for the Council to consider.  Every map received, in any format, will be processed by the City’s demographic consultant and presented to the Council, complete with professional map and full demographic analysis, for its consideration.

 

Ask your Questions
The City Clerk is available to answer any questions you have about the process; the schedule; the draft plans; or how to draw your own plan. You can reach the City Clerk using the contact information provided.

 

Districting Schedule
All meetings will be held in the Council Chamber located at 3191 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, CA  90720.

Tentative Timeline: Consideration and Implementation of “District-Based” Election Method

DATE EVENT COMMENTS/STATUS
March 29, 2018 City received demand letter City has 45 days to adopt Resolution of Intention to change to district elections.
May 11, 2018
Friday
City Council adopts Resolution declaring its intention to transition form at-large to district-based elections CVRA action cannot be commenced for 90 days (August 9, 2018)
May 11, 2018
Friday
City Council approves Consulting Services Agreement with qualified demographer City entered into an agreement with National Demographics Corporation, Inc.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
6:00 p.m.
1st Public Hearing City Council hearing regarding composition of district; no maps yet.
Monday, June 4, 2018
6:00 p.m.
2nd Public Hearing

 

City Council hearing regarding composition of district; no maps yet.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018 Post draft maps and potential sequence of elections on the City’s website Draft maps and proposed sequence must be posted publicly at least 7 days before 3rd Public Hearing.
Monday, June 18, 2018
5:00 p.m.
3rd Public Hearing City Council hearing regarding composition of district.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 Post any new or amended maps and potential sequence of elections to the City’s website. Draft maps and proposed sequence must be posted publicly at least 7 days before 3rd Public Hearing.
Monday, July 9, 2018
6:00 p.m.
4th Public Hearing Select map, City Council introduces ordinance establishing district elections, including district boundaries and election sequence
Monday, July 16, 2018
6:00 p.m.
5th Public Hearing Second reading of ordinance establishing district elections.  Ordinance must be adopted at a Regular Council meeting.
August 8, 2018 Day 90 Safe harbor provisions
August 15, 2018 Effective date of ordinance establishing district elections District Election will be effective for the November 2020 Election.
 

 

City Clerk’s Office
Windmera Quintanar, CMC, City Clerk
3191 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, CA  90720
(562) 431-3538, ext. 220
wquintanar(at)cityoflosalamitos.org