Good Turnout For Final Voter District Workshop
Today, Saturday, the final Voter District Workshop was held at the Balearic Center and the turnout was good, although smaller than some others. Around 30 residents showed up to listen to the consultants and participate in a discussion of examples of proposed voter district boundaries that may be presented to the City Council on July 5th.
The event was, once again, moderated by Yesenia Arias from Arellano Associates and the program was conducted by Demographer David Ely. City Clerk Brenda Green was also present, overseeing the staff and monitoring the proceedings.
Ely provided an overview of how we reached this point, explaining the process that had been followed. He also briefly explained why we are in the middle of this process - a threatened lawsuit that caused the City of Costa Mesa to sign a settlement agreement that required this process.
GOOD LATINO TURNOUT AGAIN
Again, there was a good turnout by the Latino community - about a third of the attendees were Latinos, several of whom utilized the simultaneous translation of Albert Garcia. I spoke with a few of those folks after the meeting and was told they got a lot out of the presentation.
SOME LOCAL OFFICIALS AND FAMILIAR FACES
There were a few familiar faces in the crowd, including council candidate Jay Humphrey. Also in attendance were Mike Scheafer and Art Perry, President and Director of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, respectively.
FIFTEEN PEOPLE SPOKE
Nearly half the attendees rose to speak on the various maps, citing their concerns and preferences. Ely has, in previous meetings, used community input and demographics to craft these various choices. They had not changed from the previous meeting earlier in the week.
Among the concerns expressed were the placement of the College Park community in a district that seemed to be predominently a Westside orientation. Westside speakers were concerned that they didn't have a voice on the council - someone who actually lives in their district. The goal of this process is to have at least one district with 50% Latino voters. As it stands now, District 4 on most of the maps is that district.
Ely presented two maps with five (5) districts; one with six (6) districts (which would also include the necessity for a directly-elected mayor) and one with seven (7) districts.
Near the end of the meeting the consultants did a straw poll, asking the attendees which district maps they prefered. It was possible to choose more than one. The results were:
Map 1 (5 districts) - 9
Map 2 (5 districts) - 18
Map 3 (6 districts) - 0
Map 4 (7 districts) - 1
PLUS SOME TINKERING
Additionally, during the discussion Ely, guided by members of the public, tinkered with Map 1, adjusting some of the lines to make Harbor Blvd. the right border and took another vote. 14 people liked that one.
CONSULTANT WILL MASSAGE THE RESULTS
Ely will now take all the information gathered from the public - and from input gleaned from folks who utilized the mapping tool on the City website - and prepare his presentation for the City Council, to be delivered to them at the meeting on July 5th. You can find that, and almost any other information you need on this issue, HERE. The council will hold a public hearing and accept comments from the public on this issue on that date - right after the Independence Day holiday.
WHERE WERE THE CANDIDATES?
It was interesting to note that, with the exception of Humphrey, no other council candidate except Lee Ramos has taken the time to attend any of these meetings. One would think that it might be a good way to take the pulse of the community on this critical issue - one that will affect city governance as we move forward. I expecially wondered why Julie Mercurio chose to miss this opportunity to get information? I guess she's too busy 'moderating'...
I've written about each of the three previous meetings. You can find those entries HERE, HERE and HERE. Fewer than 140 individuals attended these meetings, but those who did attend were enthusiastic and focused.
THE CHOICE WILL BE INTERESTING
I look forward to seeing how this process is managed on July 5th. I get the sense that there are members on the council - perhaps a majority - that will prefer the 6-districts plus directly-elected mayor option. This, despite the fact that at every meeting this option was not just rejected, but heartily rejected! It's likely that if they choose to put that option on the ballot the voters will reject it, forcing this issue back into the legal system, where a judge will decide what our voting districts will look like. Then, again, that shouldn't surprise anyone - our city council majority has become an annuity for lawyers for the past five years.
TWO WEEKS TO GO
See you at City Hall on the 5th for this subject.