On Tuesday night, May 17, the Fullerton City Council will choose a single map for approval by voters in November to create individual districts from which city council members would be elected, beginning in 2018. To settle a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and two local plaintiffs over underrepresentation of minorities, Fullerton’s City Council agreed to place a chosen map on the November ballot for an up or down vote by the city’s electorate. Only one map will appear as part of a Yes or No vote on district elections. The voters will have a direct voice in approval or non-approval of the map, and whether or not to adopt a district-based system at all in five months, but it is the City Council that will tonight choose among several maps. Some maps are better than others at addressing the issue brought by the lawsuit, and also at preserving communities of interest within single districts—both requirements of the process.
The City accepted submissions of maps through May 10, and even offered online software that allowed users to create maps while accessing the relevant data quantifying voters by ethnicity so would-be mapmakers could devise districts of equal populations while endeavoring to address the underrepresentation alleged by the lawsuit. Eleven maps were submitted before the deadline. They can be found at this link:
(WARNING: The link only goes to a page from the City Clerk’s office. From it, follow this chain…
“District Elections” to “Maps and Data” to the maps page. “Maps Submitted by the Public” can be found here, but the link on the page only goes directly to the City Clerk page in general.)
Some are obviously inadequate because they don’t create districts with Citizen Age Voting Populations (CVAP) that guarantee at least a plurality of an underrepresented group (Latinos on the generally South end of town, Asians on the upper West side). The Asian district is comparatively easy because of the city’s large concentration of Korean residents in the Amerige Heights area, but finding Latinos in one single district is more difficult. Latinos are more broadly distributed across the city, making it more difficult to establish a CVAP with at least a plurality of Latino voters without drawing eccentric shapes across the map. Keep in mind that the final map is supposed to respect “natural” dividing lines like railroad tracks, major traffic corridors, and other physical features that create boundaries between different regions of the city. To the greatest extent possible, district lines should not cut across neighborhoods.
Of the submissions, two stand out because one has been presented already during a council update on the subject as a “consensus” map, even though only a small group of people worked on it, and the other just makes more sense. Rather than go through each map, I am reproducing these two below, along with the relevant figures that correspond to each district created within each map. Keep in mind that the names given to each region are determined by the mapmakers, and therefore will not be consistent from map to map.
Submission 2B, below, creates a CVAP plurality Latino district in area 5, but does so by awkwardly grouping much of the downtown area with Cal State Fullerton—two areas far from each other geographically. CSUF is also cut off from much of the residential area around it. This map also has a dividing line between areas 3 and 5 that jogs across the East Downtown historic districts, unacceptably rending that area in two in order to crate the Latino district below.
Submission 10 does a much better job of keeping neighborhoods together downtown, while preserving the voices of residents surrounding CSUF by grouping them with the school. Note that the Latino CVAP in this map’s Downtown area is only .8 % less than that created by 2B’s area 5. The Rag also likes Submission 10 better because it uses Bastanchury as a dividing line instead of Harbor Blvd., grouping the Hillcrest and Golden Hills historic neighborhoods together instead of splitting off Golden Hills into the much newer Amerige Heights region.
The Rag hopes the City Council will remember that neighborhoods matter in Fullerton, and choose a map that best reflects this priority.
Submission 2B, inadequate…Submission 10, much better.