Local News

Public Input Needed at Virtual Redistricting Workshops

The three Redistricting Workshops that had been scheduled as in-person neighborhood meetings were switched to a virtual-only due to COVID. The Zoom link was published two days before the first workshop on January 13. Like the two prior Redistricting meetings, there was low attendance (about 20) and few people providing input. More timely and widespread outreach is needed to improve participation at the workshops on January 29 and February 10 and via the online tools to capture input before the Redistricting Advisory Commission (RAC) makes their recommendation to City Council on February 23.

Jennifer Nentwig from Tripepi Smith, the company contracted by the City to perform redistricting community outreach and to provide live broadcasts of City meetings, hosted the workshop. Participants were muted and the chat function was blocked. Participants waited for the moderator to unmute them individually during two prescribed times within the presentation.

The workshop allowed for community input that was not limited to three minutes per person and with additional time to ask questions at the end. The consultant nearly skipped Maureen Milton, a Fullerton resident for over 50 years who was on the phone, until the demographer alerted Nentwig that there was a person waiting. As a participant who does not have a computer, Milton asked for the presentation be printed and available in advance of future meetings.

Dr. Justin Levitt from National Demographics Corporation provided a presentation like the one he gave to the Redistricting Advisory Commission at their meeting on December 15, 2021. The workshop presentation can be viewed from the Materials link accessed from the Redistricting link at cityoffullerton.com. The Workshop video is available HERE.

The Process

Levitt explained that Fullerton is re-doing the City Council District boundaries following the decennial census because the population deviation among the districts is too great by federal standards. As well, the map is getting a do-over because the FAIR MAPS Act (AB849, 2019) has a rank-ordered set of priorities including contiguous districts, undivided neighborhoods and communities of interest with shared issues, problems, and concerns, that need to stay together for fair representation, lines that are easy to understand, following natural and man-made barriers, and compactness.

Levitt discussed the demographic data with a caveat that not all information is in the numbers. What makes a neighborhood and what are its geographic boundaries comes from the community. A neighborhood may be as small as an apartment complex. It might be defined by issues such as parking problems, freeway impacts, or its historic nature with boundaries that can be verified objectively using streets and landmarks.

A community of interest is an area with shared issues or characteristics such as race and income that may coincide with census data, but it may also be defined by common issues, such as traffic or intensive redevelopment.

Community members were invited to speak about their neighborhood and community. There were seven speakers (including the author), none of whom utilized the language translators and none that spoke about D4 or D5, areas mostly south of Commonwealth.

Community Input

Ray Young said he lives east of the 57 freeway in District 3 (D3) which he said is defined by parking and traffic problems related to higher density land-use and CSUF, 50-year-old homes that are not all properly maintained, and shared shopping opportunities.

Arnel Dino who also lives in D3 agreed with Young and suggested that the boundary between D2 and D3 should be Associated Road and State College because few students live in the Acacia neighborhood west of State College.

Harry Langenbacher, who said he lives in the historic district near downtown said, “The worst feature of the old map was that downtown was purposefully fractured.” He described his neighborhood as having smaller, older housing occupied by lower income residents concerned about the cost of housing.

Fullerton’s current City Council districts, adopted in 2016.

Gretchen Cox did not identify her neighborhood, nor did she provide input to describe her community. However, she did express her support for dividing the downtown community saying it is “important that we all have input into what happens down there.”

Jeff Townsend who lives in D1 described his neighborhood boundaries as the northern and western edges of the City, east to Euclid, and south to Malvern. He described his community as a lot of single-family detached homes with a large Asian community. He explained that it includes newer development, Amerige Heights, and there are efforts for more development at West Coyote Hills, Rosecrans and Euclid, and the Bastanchury Tree Farm.

Townsend explained that every part of the City has something that is important to people throughout the City, such as the arboretum on the east side, the airport on the west, St. Jude in the north, as well as downtown in the center. But he said he supported keeping downtown together for it to have its own representation.

Matt Leslie identified his location as the west side of the historic downtown that was built-out over decades. With pressure to build more and at a higher density, he said that residents in the downtown should have a say in those decisions.

Drawing Maps

At the workshop the demographer provided demonstrations and advice for using the four different mapping tools. The tools can be accessed from the Draw a Map link on the Redistrict Fullerton section of the City website. There are four options to create a map or a portion of the map.

There is a paper map with about 125 population areas displaying the population count from the 2020 census. The map can be marked with a pen, pencil, or highlighter. The map can be photographed and submitted by email to DistrictElections@CityOfFullerton.com.

Paper maps are available online in English and Spanish.

Another version of the paper map has an excel spreadsheet that will do the math in an Excel workbook. Each section of the map has a number that corresponds with a row on the Assignments worksheet. By entering the district number in the first column the total count for each district is tallied and compared on the 5-district balance worksheet. The Excel workbook can be emailed like the paper map when done.

Dave’s Redistricting App is one of two browser-based mapping tools. There is a quick-start guide that explains the step to create and publish a map by selecting precincts to include in each district. Backgrounds and Labels can be selected and displayed to provide data about each precinct. The precincts can be divided into smaller census blocks to add to a district without including the entire precinct. When complete, the map is shared and the link to the map can be submitted by email.

The other online tool is Calipers Maptitude Online Redistricting tool. It has multiple languages. The help menu provides instructions and help by email. A variety of demographic data can be displayed, such as income, education level, children at home, rent or own a home, etc. One can view the population change as census blocks are assigned to a district. There is an integrity check to confirm there are no unassigned areas or non-contiguous areas before sharing the map and submitting the map to the administrator online.

All map submissions will be included in the public record and posted to the City website. Maps are due on February 10, the date of the third workshop in order to make them available to the public two weeks prior to the February 23 Redistricting Advisory Commission (RAC) Meeting.

Map Selection

The RAC Meeting on February 23 may or may not be all virtual. The commission will view all map submissions received by February 10. They will make a recommendation of one or more maps to City Council.

Maps submitted after February 10 will not be in the packet considered by the commission but will be provided to City Council for consideration at the two public hearings on March 8 and March 29. The Council will select the final map. “It is certainly within the Council’s scope to approve the map,” Dr. Levitt said.

On April 5 there may be a second reading of the City ordinance establishing the boundaries. But April 17 is the deadline for the City to submit the map in time for the November 8 Election.

1 reply »

  1. Odd that Gretchen Cox would support the single thing that is WRONG with the current map. Hmm.

    Meanwhile Tripepi Smith boasts former Fullerton councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald as a key employee. Hmm.