The Lake Elsinore City Council has approved a proposed five-district map for election by-district that will, after final approval, allow voters from each district to elect their own council representative with the mayor being appointed in rotation or by council vote.
The third public hearing on the transition from at-large elections to by-district elections was conducted Tuesday, Jan. 9, during the regular city council meeting with councilmember Darrell Hickman absent. The decision was made after considering two different by-district maps drawing the boundaries for each of the districts based upon the population and their racial makeup.
By-district elections require each council district contain a nearly equal population; a districting plan is needed to be drawn in a manner that complies with the California Voting Rights Act, Federal Voting Rights Act, council districts and not be drawn with race as the predominate factor.
Rejected by the council was a four-district map with the elected mayor chosen at-large. The two maps, the five-district map called “Tan,” and a four-district map, called “Apple,” were drawn by the National Demographics Corp. based upon the 2010 census data and geographical studies.
Two earlier public hearings were held Nov. 28 and Dec. 12 with a fourth and final public hearing now set for Jan. 23 during the next regular council meeting. The council urges residents interested in the election change to attend the final public hearing after they have had an opportunity to look at the five-district map decided upon the council.
Explaining the district breakdowns on the two maps to the council was Justine Levitt, vice president of the NDC. He said both maps were based upon the 2010 census as required by the federal Voting Rights Act, which may need to be revised since the city has grown by approximately 15,000 people. The next census will be 2020.
Levitt said that in creating the maps, they were striving to include in each district a portion of lakeshore, a portion of historic downtown, equal commercial, retail and industrial uses, equal wildlife conservation lands and known to be in areas of higher-than-average population growth “since the last census and known to be in areas of higher than average population growth in the year immediately following districting should be under populated as permitted by law.”
The chosen map configurations place approximately 10,600 people in each district. The five districts have been given a name using the largest development or landmark names in the district. District 1 is designated the Lake Edge District and has most of its population on the southeast side and south of the city around the lake. District 2 covers most of the northeast city and is designated the Aberhill District. District 3 is designated the Lake Elsinore Hills District to the southeast. District 4 called the Lake View District in the central north of the city. District 5 has four areas including East Lake, Ballpark, Riverview and Historic, encompassing the central portion of the city and portions of the lakefront.
Levitt said the city, from the 2010 census, has about a 47 percent Latino population with two of the districts having a majority of Latinos with most living west of the Interstate 15. He said that percentage will most likely change with the next census.
Each map also specified the proposed election years for each district moving forward.
He said at the public hearing meeting that they can view the interactive map on the Jan. 9 council meeting video recording to see the criterion layers and to magnify the boundaries for greater accuracy.
The city council urged residents to attend the upcoming meeting, Jan. 23, to share their input or to submit their input via email at [email protected].
The Lake Elsinore City Council officially initiated the process of changing elections from the at-large voting method to the by-district method, Nov. 7, in response to a threat of litigations related to the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. Beginning the 2018 election, residents will only be allowed to vote for those council members in the district in which they live. Residents will no longer be able to vote for all five council members.