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Threat of Lawsuit Spurs La Palma to Move to District Elections in 2024

May 24, 2022~LA PALMA, Calif. – The City of La Palma currently utilizes an at-large election system where voters citywide select each of the five City Council Members. By contrast, a district-based election system is one in which a City is physically divided into separate districts, each with one council member who resides in the district and is chosen solely by the voters residing in that district.

 On March 9, 2022, the City of La Palma received a certified letter from the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes, on behalf of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, alleging that the City’s current at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) (Elections Code §§ 14025-14032) by disenfranchising Latinos and demanded that the City transition to by-district elections. A copy of the letter is available on the City’s website at www.cityoflapalma.org/transparency.

The City of La Palma was required to respond to the certified letter from the law firm within 45 days of receipt. At the Special Meeting of the City Council on April 19, 2022, the City Council adopted a Resolution to declare the City Council’s intention to transition from at-large to by-district elections pursuant to California Elections Code Section 10010 and executed an agreement to retain National Demographics Corporation as a demographer to begin the process.

At the Special Meeting of the City Council on May 17, 2022, the City Council approved and directed City staff to move forward with a five (5) district election system for the 2024 election. In this election system, the City Council would continue to appoint a Mayor and a Mayor Pro Tem from its own membership to serve a one-year term and each district would include approximately 3,120 residents.

The Council also approved a revised timeline of events (see table below) as required by State law. The City of La Palma is encouraging all La Palma residents to participate in the districting process by providing input on how the five (5) City Council district maps should be drawn. La Palma residents may design their own map and submit it to the City for consideration. Mapping tools (digital and paper-based) are available online at www.drawlapalma.org. A Community Workshop has been scheduled for June 21, 2022, at the La Palma Community Center to assist residents with the mapping tools and submittal process. In addition to the Community Workshop, the following public meetings and map submission deadlines have been scheduled.

 

Timeline of Events

Date/Time

Location

Description

June 21

5:30 PM

La Palma Community Center (7821 Walker Street)

Community Meeting and Workshop

The City will host a community meeting to discuss the districting process, provide a tutorial on the mapping tools, and gather community input.

June 23

City of La Palma

(Online or in-person)

1st Round of Maps Due

Submit maps to [email protected] or in-person to City Hall (7822 Walker Street).

June 28

Online

1st Round of Maps Posted Online

Maps submitted by June 23 will be posted to www.drawlapalma.org.

July 5

6:30 PM

City Hall Council Chambers (7822 Walker Street)

Public Hearing #3

Third public hearing to receive public input regarding the composition of Council election districts draft maps and sequence of elections.

July 21

 

City of La Palma

(Online or in-person)

2nd Round of Maps Due

Submit maps to [email protected] or in-person to City Hall (7822 Walker Street).

July 26

Online

1st Round of Maps Posted Online

Maps submitted by June 23 will be posted to www.drawlapalma.org.

August 2

6:30 PM

City Hall Council Chambers (7822 Walker Street)

Public Hearing #4

Fourth public hearing to receive public input regarding the composition of Council election districts draft maps and proposed sequence of elections.

September 6

6:30 PM

City Hall Council Chambers (7822 Walker Street)

Public Hearing #5 -1st Reading of By-District Elections Ordinance

Introduction and first reading of an ordinance to establish by-district elections, district boundaries, and sequence of elections.

October 4

6:30 PM

City Hall Council Chambers (7822 Walker Street)

Public Meeting – 2nd Reading and Adoption of By-District Elections Ordinance

Second reading and adoption of an ordinance to establish by-district elections, district boundaries, and sequence of elections.

Following the Second Reading and Adoption of By-District Elections Ordinance on October 4, 2022, the first by-district elections, in La Palma, CA, will take effect beginning with the November 2024 election.

For more information, please contact the City of La Palma at [email protected] or (714) 690-3350.