Fullerton City Council held the third of four public hearings to receive public input and select a map for City Council Elections for the next 10 years at a special meeting on March 8. On a 3-2 vote (Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap), the Council selected map 114. The majority of public speakers were from the Fullerton Redistricting Coalition, including Fullerton residents and organizations, who advocated for map 110, the map they had submitted but had not been recommended to the Council by the Redistricting Advisory Commission (RAC) on February 23.
Map 114 was recommended to Council by the RAC (5-2, Jaramillo and Vallejo opposed) along with “focus maps” 111 and 112 (6-1, Seminara opposed). Map 111 was submitted by this writer and was not discussed by Council. Maps 112 and 114 were created by demographer Dr. Justin Levitt. Map 112 was supported by a few speakers in place of map 110 because it maintained the horizontal District 3 (D3) that includes CSUF and Fullerton College (FC) like 110.
Map 114 is a re-work of map 108 submitted by community member Raymond Gandara and map 106 proposed by RAC member John Seminara (Councilperson Whitaker’s appointee). In 114, D3 is oriented vertically, following the 57 freeway, and includes CSUF but not Fullerton College (FC). Map 114 boundaries follow major arterial roads and, as Dr. Levitt noted, also has the highest population deviation, just within the 10% limit at 9.38%.
The first speaker, Mike Rodriguez, read an online petition written by Blandy Morales to bring back map 110. It was submitted to the City Council with 110 names paired with zip codes and occasional comments. The complaint opposed the Council’s decision in October to create an advisory rather than independent redistricting commission, the decision of the advisory commission last month to not advance map 110, despite it having the largest number of public comments submitted in its favor, and the separation of FC and CSUF students. The petition cited communities of interest considered when drawing map 110 that included Korean businesses between Commonwealth and Malvern in D1, AMEMSA and Muslim communities in D2, Latino communities in D4 and D5, “environmental justice interests” in D5, and “household income disparities in east Fullerton.”
Julia Gomez spoke via Zoom as a representative of the ACLU and submitted a letter on their behalf to the City Council in favor of map 110. In her statements and her letter, she suggested that the RAC may have intended to “purposefully disadvantage incumbents (Jesus Silva) or ensure that certain candidates (Sebourn) can be elected in the future” because map 114 would place Councilmembers Silva and Dunlap in D2 and Sebourn in D3 where Sebourn would not have to run against Silva to whom he lost the election for D3 in 2018.
Kayla Asato, representing OC Environmental Justice, said almost all maps have a Latino plurality Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) in D4 and D5, but map 110 had the most impact for renters and low-income and “housing-insecure” people in D3. She said that north of Bastanchury and along Associated Road there are more higher income residents who are different than those who live south of Dorothy Lane in “historic housing.”
In all, 10 speakers at the March 8 public hearing requested that the Council consider map 110, because D3 creates a district with a majority of residents who rent apartments or houses versus owning a home, are students, and people impacted by the schools.
RAC Chair Sebourn called in to explain that Map 114 “Didn’t seem to split communities of interest” and Map 110 “had issues” so they recommended 112 because it kept FC and CSUF together like 110 but was “better balanced.”
Another RAC member, Dr. Jody Vallejo, thanked Sebourn for his role as the commission chair, but then said she was “dismayed that a majority of (RAC) members rejected 110.” She recommended that the Council consider Map 112 because it is “closest to the map created by the community.”
Councilperson Silva asked Sebourn why the commission did not forward map 110 to the Council. Sebourn explained that D3 in map 110 is narrow, 3.6 miles long, and connects communities with “nothing in common.” He said keeping FC and CSUF in the same district is like keeping the airport and the transportation center in the same district.
Silva made a motion to select map 112 because it had received support from the community and the commission. Mayor Jung “encouraged” Silva to not compromise if he preferred map 110. Silva said he was respecting the decision of the commission and made no change to his motion. His motion was later seconded by Councilperson Zahra.
Councilperson Dunlap gave his opinion that those who spoke in favor of map 110 were “special interest groups,” and that the city was too small to “carve it up.” He said map 114 was the “most straightforward” map while some maps are the “definition of gerrymandering.” Dunlap made a motion to approve map 114.
Whitaker agreed that 114 is “compact and comprehensible” and admitted the boundaries he approved in 2016 were difficult to comprehend. He said the “key to map 114” is that the community of interest flanking the 57 freeway would otherwise be orphaned or stranded. He seconded Dunlap’s motion for 114.
Mayor Jung asked the demographer if maps 111, 112, and 114 all meet the State and federal guidelines. Then he asked for the Asian American Citizen Voting Age Population of D1 in maps 111, 112, and 114. Levitt responded that the numbers were 53%, 52%, and 56%, respectively. Jung immediately called for a vote and 114 was approved.
Ostensibly, the council may reconsider their current selection, map 114, and select a different “final map” at the fourth and final public hearing on March 29 at 6:30pm in the City Council Chamber. The calendar has a placeholder for a second reading of the ordinance establishing new voting districts on April 6 “if needed.”
Maps may still be submitted for consideration by Council. For map submission deadline, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (714) 738-6350. All maps submitted by the public and created by the demographer can be viewed using the interactive web viewer available at City of Fullerton Redistricting 2021.
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