Four draft maps that were under consideration for a City Council district-based electoral system have been reduced to two following a public hearing last week in which residents were asked to provide input.
After listening to community members and analyzing comments from a workshop on the issue earlier this month, the City Council decided during its regularly scheduled Sept. 20 meeting to proceed with two maps, each of which divide the city into five districts.
The consensus from the Council was to use the green map and the modified green map.
“Both are similar to the green map that was presented during the workshop on Saturday, Sept. 16,” explained South Pasadena Interim City Manager Elaine Aguilar. “The only difference between the green map and the modified green gap,” noted Aguilar, “is primarily an attempt to keep what is referred to as ‘central South Pasadena’ all in one district. So, the modified green map includes a little more of ‘central South Pasadena.’ In the end, we’re trying to wind up with equally populated districts. The City Council has decided these two should go forward for their final consideration on Oct. 4. On that date, the Council will need to decide which of the two will be part of the district-based electoral system in our city.”
Narrowing the choice to two maps was a big step in the process, explained Aguilar, as the city is on target to meet deadlines imposed by the California Voting Right Act (CVRA).
In July, council members adopted a resolution declaring the City’s intent to transition to district-based elections in response to a threat of litigation asserting a violation of the CVRA. While the City maintains its position that its election system does not violate the CVRA or any other provision of law, the cost of litigation is prohibitive and the public interest would be better served by transitioning to a district-based electoral system, it says.
By transitioning to a district-based electoral system, Aguilar says the City of South Pasadena will be required to reimburse the plaintiff for its attorney fees and costs (up to $30,000), but will not face additional legal fees for defending a lawsuit brought under the CVRA.
The city manager said the maps have been created to “show a mix of renters, homeowners and commercial areas,” Aguilar explained. “They touch major boulevards that run through town with a vertical orientation so that each of the Council members would have more than one citywide issue that would be of interest to their constituents.”
A webpage (www.southpasadenaca.gov/districts) has been developed to keep residents engaged in the process related to transitioning to a district-based electoral system.
“It has been an interesting process,” said Aguilar. “It has been a whirlwind because state law only gives us 90 days to adopt a final map. It really isn’t a very long period of time when you consider the importance of gathering public input. For some people it might seem a little rushed, but that’s because our hands have been tied as far as state legislation and how many days the council has to put districts in place in order to not get sued.”