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Central Coast cities working on new boundaries for district-based city council elections

Santa Maria City Council Chambers
Santa Maria City Council Chambers. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A number of Central Coast cities are discussing how city council elections will be determined over the several days.

In Santa Maria and Lompoc, both cities have initiated the process on receiving public input on redrawing already existing district boundaries.

Both Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach are beginning the process of transitioning to a district-based system for its city council members.

Santa Maria will hold the first of four public meetings August 3, 2021, at Grogan Park Community Center, 1155 West Rancho Verde.

"We recently did the redistricting three years ago and with the new census data, we'll be looking what the districts will be for the next 10 years," said Santa Maria City Manager Jason Stillwell. "It's based on demographic data, so the city has hired a demographer and the demographer's role will be work with the community in providing information for them to submit potential maps. We're going to have a website for people to have that data to be able to submit maps."

Santa Maria has four distinct districts city council. Under the system, residents may elect candidates only from their district. The mayor's position is elected by the entire voting population.

"It's important for people so they can have a city government that represents the community," said Stillwell. "It was the intent of the state legislature and it's the intent of the city council to be able to best meet the needs of the city. We're here to serve the community and this is one way for the community to work to make sure that they have the government that best serves them."

Santa Maria will hold three later meetings, Sept. 7, 2021, as well as two more in March 2022.

Lompoc previously held two public meetings on redistricting earlier this month and will hold two additional meetings on February 2, 2022 and February 16, 2022.

Currently, Lompoc is divided into four districts. Each district must contain at least 10,100 residents, right now, all four districts are uneven with its population.

Grover Beach will host the second of four legally required public districting hearings on tonight at 6:00 p.m. in the City’s Council Chambers.

According to a city release, a representative from the National Demographics Corporation will provide a presentation on the districting process and introduce DistrictR, a mapping tools residents can use to draw maps for council consideration.

Arroyo Grande is beginning the process to transition to district-based elections. The first of at least four public hearings is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. during the City Council’s regular meeting.

"The meeting tomorrow night is really to just start that process, provide education and information about what the process is going to entail, what the purpose is, what the goals are, allow people to ask questions, give us some initial feedback, and also let us know what kinds of concerns and criteria that the public would like us to take into consideration in drawing those new district boundaries, said Arroyo Grande City Manager Whitney McDonald.

McDonald added people can participate in the process through a variety of ways, including through a virtual method.

"We have a public mapping system that is available for anybody to go take a look at our existing city boundaries," said McDonald. "Take a look at potential city boundaries that folks might want to have drawn to represent their neighborhood, and give us your map. Let us know how you think those districts boundaries ought to be drawn."

All of the cities will have the new district boundaries in place for the November 2022 election.

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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