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Arroyo Grande to decide on four district maps 

Arroyo Grande selected four finalist maps out of 159 contenders, one of which will become the blueprint for fresh district lines in April.

The Feb. 22 City Council meeting marked the first of three deliberations to select and revise maps submitted by the public and the consulting National Demographics Corporation (NDC). Council members chose maps 902, and three modified versions of maps 202, 902, and 903 for consideration at the next meeting scheduled for March 8.

click to enlarge TOP PICK The majority of the City Council declared a potential modified version of Plan 903 as their first choice, the original of which was drawn by the National Demographics Corporation. - SCREENSHOT FROM NATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS CORPORATION PRESENTATION
  • Screenshot From National Demographics Corporation Presentation
  • TOP PICK The majority of the City Council declared a potential modified version of Plan 903 as their first choice, the original of which was drawn by the National Demographics Corporation.

While landing on a final map will be a relatively long process, the late arrival of official census data fast-tracked the need to sift through almost 160 draft district maps. Ultimately, only 39 of the maps submitted for consideration were compliant because they were plotted using official data, while the others had relied on the estimated data available before the census was finalized.

"For those that submitted their maps through email, and for those who did provide their contact information, we did contact each one and let them know we had updated tools [using official data]," City Clerk Jessica Matson explained at the meeting. "Some people did take advantage of those and submitted their revisions."

Grover Beach was also impacted by the late census and had to throw out draft district map hopefuls due to their reliance on estimated data. Both cities are moving from at-large election systems to a district-based ones due to lawsuit threats.

In October 2019, attorney Robert Goodman accused Arroyo Grande of violating the California Voting Rights Act on behalf of his client Maria Minicucci. Minicucci alleged that Arroyo Grande's at-large system created racially polarized voting. Within weeks, the city settled an agreement with her, and declared its intent to switch to a district-based system by Nov. 8, 2022.

Three of Arroyo Grande's final maps belong to the 900 series, which comes from NDC. The consulting company relied on publicly submitted maps as a reference for drawing district lines based on community preferences. Plan 202 is part of a set of six maps that were drawn using a mapping tool called DistrictR. Matson told New Times that compliant maps balance the population roughly equally across all districts, respect the federal Voting Rights Act, don't racially gerrymander, have easily identifiable boundaries, and don't divide socioeconomic regions or neighborhoods that have been historically marginalized.

"The main theme for modifying Plans 202, 902, and 903 was to keep the [Arroyo Grande] Village unified by adjusting lines to include streets with the Village 'neighborhood,'" Matson said.

Though the Arroyo Grande residents missed out on fully contributing to district maps because of the census data holdup, Matson explained that they could still get involved in other ways, including at the upcoming meetings on March 8 and 22, and at the ordinance hearing on April 12 when the final map would be adopted.

"The four maps the council selected to be considered at the next hearing will be up on the city's districting web page in the coming days at arroyogrande.org/districtelections. The public will have the opportunity to provide written comment to publiccomment@arroyogrande.org and/or speak in person or virtually at the next three meetings," she said. Δ

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