Settlement Agreement Reached in Voting Districts Lawsuit

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03/20/13 Categories: City of Escondido

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact for City: Jeffrey Epp (760-839-4608) Contact for Plaintiffs: Jim Finberg (415-421-7151

The Escondido City Council and Plaintiffs have agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit requiring City Council members to represent specific geographic areas.  The material terms of the settlement will be presented to the court at a status conference which is scheduled for Friday, March 22, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.    The Parties will ask the Court to review the settlement agreement and then approve it as a court order at a subsequent date. The settlement will take the form of a consent decree issued by the Superior Court.

Under the settlement, Escondido will be divided into four districts with each district to be represented by a Council member living within that district.  The Mayor will continue to represent the entire City. The districts will be determined by a Redistricting Commission consisting of 7 members.  The members will be chosen by a selection panel of retired San Diego County judges.   After the District boundaries are drawn, they are submitted to the City Council for final up or down approval.  Districts may be re-drawn every 10 years if required by changes in the population as reflected in the census.    The first Independent Redistricting Commission must be chosen by September 1, 2013 and the Council must approve any proposed boundaries at least four months before the November 2014 election.    

Districts are chosen according to legal requirements in the United States Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act and shall have reasonably equal populations.  Districts are to be geographically contiguous, and encourage geographic compactness.   To the extent possible, they shall respect the geographic neighborhood and community of interest, including any racial, ethnic, or language minorities. 

The City will reimburse Plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs of $385,000.   In addition to the City’s in-house legal costs, the City has spent approximately $200,000 in defending the case and preparing the settlement.     

 

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