The City Council held its first public hearing about the upcoming redistricting process.
All cities and counties in California that elect members of the governing bodies for local jurisdictions must review district boundaries when the decennial U.S. Census is released. The 2020 U. S Census was released in August 2021.
The consulting group FLO Analytics presented an analysis regarding the steps needed for redistricting and outlined an outreach and engagement strategy to get the community involved in the planning and creation process.
“They are assisting city staff, and it turns out to be a pretty complex process,” said City Manager Scott Hurlbert. “I think we are going to be able to do an effective job without disrupting the general feel of the districts.”
Flo Analytics created a modular tool found on the City of Wasco web page. It allows community members to draw preliminary redistricting maps they can submit for their input.
“It is important for staff and council to know one does not need a computer to do this,” Hurlbert said. “A note or drawing on paper where they think the lines ought to go will also work, and Flo will do their best to translate that to the modular and then do the analysis of it.”
The community can also attend public meetings and submit comments or feedback on the city’s redistricting website. This all needs to happen quickly.
“There is a three-week window until draft maps will be put forth, and so we need input from council members and patrons. We will be asking for final drafts in early April. There is a lot of work that needs to be completed in a short time,” said Kent Martin, of Flo Analytics.
Before adopting a final map, the law requires that the council hold at least four public hearings at which the public is invited to provide input regarding the composition of one or more council districts. At least one public hearing will be held before the council draws a draft map of the proposed council district boundaries. At least two public hearings will be held after the council has outlined a draft map of the proposed boundaries.
“The goal is to keep the districts as compact as possible, preserve communities of mutual interest, and preserve the use of existing administrative and natural boundaries,” said Alex Brasch, of Flo Analytics. “Of the five districts, one and three require the most attention to get closer to the ideal population for each district which is 4,559. District one is currently at 6,828, and district three is at 2,727.”
Based upon public and City Council input, Flo Analytics will produce no more than five draft maps to be posted on the City of Wasco redistricting webpage by March 21. Those maps will be presented to the City Council for their initial feedback. The public will then give their input at a second public hearing on March 22.
The drafts will then be revised after feedback is considered and will again be shared to the council and at a third public hearing on March 29. The final map will then be developed and presented no later than April 5.
“All statutory redistricting criteria will be upheld, including the Voting Rights Act, and be vetted by legal professionals reflecting public sentiment. It will be a compromise,” said Brasch.