What is the timeline to move to district-based elections?

In 2016, the legislature amended Elections Code section 10010 to create a limited “safe harbor” timeline for agencies to transition from at-large to district elections. The amendment prevents a CVRA lawsuit from being filed if the agency adopts a Resolution of Intent to transition to district-based elections within 45 days of receiving a letter from a potential plaintiff. The agency then has 90 days to complete legal proceedings to make the transition. If all required actions are completed within the timeline, the agency’s potential liability for plaintiff’s attorney’s fees is capped at $30,000.

To transition to a district-based system, the City Council must adopt an ordinance requiring City Council members to be elected by district or by district with an elected mayor pursuant to Government Code section 34886. Per Government Code section 34886, the ordinance does not need to be submitted to the voters for approval, but must include a declaration that the change in election procedures is being made to further the purposes of the CVRA. Prior to the adoption of the ordinance, the City Council must establish district boundaries and determine which of the new districts will be subject to the first district elections. To do so, a minimum of five public hearings must be scheduled, as follows:

  • A minimum of two public hearings at which the public can provide input on district boundaries before draft district maps are prepared. These public hearings are currently scheduled for March 1, 2022 and March 15, 2022.
  • A minimum of two public hearings to consider draft district maps.  The public hearings are currently scheduled for April 5, 2022 and April 19, 2022.
  • A public hearing to adopt the district map and establish the sequence of elections. In addition to the preferences expressed by residents of the districts, the maps must include consideration of natural geographic boundaries, communities of interest, and the “one person, one vote” standard, which requires all districts to be as nearly equal in population as possible. Federal case law prohibits districts from being drawn with race as a predominate factor. This public hearing is currently scheduled for May 3, 2022.

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1. What is the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)?
2. What is racially polarized voting?
3. What are district-based elections?
4. Will the change to a district-based election system affect my vote?
5. Why is the city moving to district-based elections?
6. What is the timeline to move to district-based elections?
7. Why is this happening so fast? Can we slow down the process?