City of Irvine Begins Effort to Expand the City Council and Move to District Elections
Irvine Voters may be voting on a ballot initiative on the March 5, 2024 primary election, to enlarge the Irvine City Council from five to seven members and to create district elections. If passed the initiative would create six district City Council representatives with the Mayor being an At-Large Representative.
All Irvine residents, registered and non-registered voters alike, are invited and encouraged to participate in the district mapping process by participating in public meetings. Participation in the districting process will be available in multiple languages. Online participation and information can be found on the newly created website: DrawIrvine.org. If you want to ask a question or even submit a proposed map of the new districts for consideration you can email: [email protected].
There will be six Public Hearings and at least seven Community Forums held between April 11, 2023 and October 24, 2023. The Public Hearings will be held at City Hall and the Community Forums will be held at various locations and at different times of the day throughout the city. This is where community members can most actively participate in the district map-making process.
Irvine residents will work with the National Demographics Corporation to design the district map for the City of Irvine which will be included on the ballot initiative to be approved by Irvine voters.
If approved by the voters in 2024, district representatives will be elected by, and thus represent, the voters of the district in which the elected representative resides. Each district should have an equal number of residents.
The Districting Process
The first Public Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at 6:00 as Council agenda item 5.1. The staff report for this item provides some important background and information and an explanation of the districting process. It reads:
“On January 10, 2023, the City Council established a subcommittee to explore placing a measure on the March 2024 ballot to modify Article IV, section 400 of the City Charter. The subcommittee was tasked with making a recommendation to the full Council on two points: (a) to expand the size of the Council from five (5) to seven (7) members; and (b) to adopt by-district elections in place of the current at-large election system.
“Following the February 7, 2023 meeting of the subcommittee, the Council decided, on February 28, 2023, to proceed with placing a measure on the March 2024 ballot to expand the Council from five (5) to seven (7) members, and develop a Council district election map for six (6) Council members. The Mayor will continue to be elected at-large.
“As required by Elections Code Section 10010, the City will hold at least two (2) public hearings prior to the release of draft maps of Council election districts. In addition to these formal hearings, there will be seven (7) workshops held throughout the City before the release of draft maps.
“Council will then hold an additional two (2) or more public hearings to solicit public input regarding the content of the draft maps and the proposed sequence of elections. A final public hearing will be held prior to the approval of an ordinance implementing a Council election district map.
“Today’s hearing partially fulfills the requirement of California Elections Code Section 10010 that states:
(1) Before drawing a draft map or maps of the proposed boundaries of the districts, the political subdivision shall hold at least two public hearings over a period of no more than thirty days, at” which the public is invited to provide input regarding the composition of the districts.
“The intention of this hearing is to identify the neighborhoods, other ‘communities of interest,’ and other local factors that should be considered or used as ‘building blocks’ when the drawing of draft maps begins. This follows Section 21621 of the Elections Code, which provides the criteria for drawing and evaluating maps, in the following order of priority:
(a) Population equality.
(b) Compliance with the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10301 et seq.).
(d) Minimizing division of neighborhoods and communities of interest. A “community of interest” is a population that shares common social or economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation. Communities of interest do not include relationships with political parties, incumbents, or political candidates.
(e) Follow natural and artificial barriers, such as major roads.
(f) Geographical compactness, which is defined as not bypassing nearby populations in favor of more distant areas.
(g) Do not favor or discriminate against a political party.
“The public is welcome to propose complete districting maps, but it is not required.
“This hearing will also be the public launch of the City’s online redistricting tool, provided by our districting consultant, National Demographics Corporation (NDC). The online tool is available as a link from the City website.
“NDC proposes the hearing begin with a presentation by NDC. The presentation will introduce the topic, inform attendees of the project schedule and mapping criteria, share demographic information about the City, and introduce the public mapping tools (the separate community workshops will include live demonstrations in the use of the tools).
“Following the presentation, Staff recommends the Council take public comment. After public comment, Staff and NDC are available to answer any questions residents may have asked during the public comment time.
“Once public comment and Staff/NDC responses are concluded, Council can close the public hearing. Then, Councilmembers have the opportunity to ask any questions about this process of Staff and NDC, share their own thoughts regarding neighborhoods or communities of interest Councilmembers wish to share at this time (if any), and Councilmembers have the opportunity to offer any reactions or responses to comments made during the public hearing.”
How to Participate
The meetings can be attended in person at City Hall or on ICTV, Cox Communications access channel 30 and AT&T U-VERSE Channel 99, and Livestreamed online at cityofirvine.org/ictv. Live comments may be given via Zoom. For more information, visit cityofirvineorg/ictv and select the meeting you want to attend.
All Irvine residents are being given the unique opportunity of participating in the creation of Irvine’s first district map. This is a historical event to be remembered for decades to come. Do come and be a part of Creating Irvine’s new Democratic Decision-making process.
[Richard K. Green contributed to this article.]
Support community journalism. Please donate or volunteer with Irvine Watchdog and help us make future articles like this possible.