|RECOMMENDATION TO COUNCIL|
Recommend the City Council adopt a Resolution of Intention to initiate procedures to transition from at-large elections to district-based elections pursuant to California Elections Code Section 10010, authorizing related actions, and estimating a time frame for action.
At the August 21, 2019 City Council meeting, after weighing the legal implications and costs of potential litigation, the City Council directed staff to move forward with drafting a Resolution of Intention to transition from at-large to district-based elections.
The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) was signed into law in 2002 and is set forth in Elections Code Sections 14025-14032. As of January 1, 2003, the CVRA created a statutory structure under California law that makes it easier for minority groups in California to successfully argue that their votes are being diluted in at-large elections.
Since 2003, numerous public agencies across California have either been sued or have received demand letters alleging violations of the CVRA. Over 250 public agencies (school districts, community college districts, cities, counties, water and other special districts) have changed to district-based elections as a result of litigation or the threat of litigation. Many agencies transition to district-based elections to avoid the potential exposure of litigation and attorneys' fees. The City is unaware of any public agency prevailing in a CVRA lawsuit.
Under Assembly Bill 350, the City is required to hold at least five public hearings within the allotted 90 day period. The first two public hearings will give the community an opportunity to weigh in on the composition of the districts. Subsequently, draft district maps will be drawn and two additional public hearings (hearings three and four) will be held for the public to provide input regarding the content of the draft maps and proposed sequences of elections. The maps must be published at least seven days before the public hearings. The fifth, and final, public hearing will be for Council to consider an ordinance that establishes Roseville's district-based elections. By law, there is no ability to cut short or extend the terms of sitting Councilmembers through this process.
Should Council adopt the Resolution of Intention to establish district-based elections, it will have the opportunity over the next four months to determine the number of districts to be formed (either five districts or four districts with an at-large mayor), how boundaries are defined, and the time and sequence of district elections. The schedule of public meetings/hearings is as follows:
Public input on composition of voting districts
Further public input on baseline and census
geography, race/ethnicity dot density, and
zoning and general plan information (must
be within 30 days of Public Hearing 1)
Discussion of proposed district maps and
sequence of elections including procedure
to elect Mayor
Public input and possible revisions to
proposed district map
Adoption of District Map, transition to district
elections Ordinance introduced
Staff will engage in additional public outreach such as creating a page on the City's website that will include information on the City's district election process and solicit comments from the public.
The fiscal impact is estimated to be between $35,000.00 to $50,000.00. This includes the increased and recurring cost of approximately $5,000.00 from the Placer County Registrar of Voters for conducting a district-based, as opposed to an at-large election. Costs also include the contract for a demographer to assist with drawing boundaries for the voting districts which was approved at the August 21, 2019 Council meeting with a cost not to exceed $30,750.00. There will also be costs for time spent by the City Clerk's Department and the City Attorney's Office. Funds are available in the City Manager's Contingency budget to pay for these costs.
Should the City Council not adopt the Resolution of Intention and not implement the procedures to transition from an at-large election system to a by-district election system, the fiscal and administrative impacts could result in economic exposure and potential litigation costs.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT / JOBS CREATED
Based upon the whole of the administrative record before it, the transition from at-large to district-based elections is exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.) pursuant to State CEQA Guidelines (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15000 et seq.) sections 15061(b)(3), 15320, and 15378(b)(5). Adoption of this Resolution of Intention is an organizational and administrative activity of the City, does not have the potential to result in either a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment, and is therefore not a project for purposes of CEQA. (State CEQA Guidelines, §§ 15061(b)(3); 15378(b)(5).) In the event adoption of this Resolution does constitute a project, it is categorically exempt under the Class 20 (Changes in the Organization of Local Governments) categorical exemption. (State CEQA Guidelines, § 15320.) Further, none of the exceptions to the exemptions found in State CEQA Guidelines section 15300.2 apply. If Council adopts this Resolution, staff will prepare, execute and file with the Placer County Clerk a CEQA Notice of Exemption within five (5) working days of the adoption of the Resolution.
Michelle Sheidenberger, Assistant City Attorney
Sonia Orozco, City Clerk
Dominick Casey, City Manager