The Independent Districting Commission shall be vested with authority to develop an initial district-based plan for future City Council elections. It is composed of seven members, appointed by a Selection Panel of three retired judges residing in San Diego County. Pursuant to the Consent Decree dated April 19, 2013, the Selection Panel shall use its best efforts to appoint Commission members who will provide racial, geographic, social and ethnic diversity, who, in its judgment, will have a high degree of competency to carry out the responsibilities of the Commission and a demonstrated capacity to serve with impartiality.
With the assistance of needed staff and an expert consultant, the Commission must adopt plans that divide the City into four Council districts. These districts will be used for future elections of Escondido City Council members, including their recall, and for filling any vacancy in the office of the member of the Council. The districting plan shall comply with the United States Constitution, including containing reasonably equal population; shall comply with the federal Voting Rights Act; shall be geographically contiguous and drawn to encourage geographic compactness; shall be drawn with respect for geographic integrity of any neighborhood and any community of interest, including racial, ethnic, and language minorities; and shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate, or political party.
The Escondido City Council is changing how its members are elected. Instead of an at-large election system in which candidates have to win among all voters in the city regardless of where they live, Council candidates will be elected from districts in which they live. On Election Day, voters will only vote for the candidates running in the district in which they live.
In order to make this change, the Independent Districting Commission will decide how to divide Escondido's population into four districts. They need to hear from you to be sure that the district lines allow an opportunity to elect a candidate to represent your interests on the Council.
- How will the Commission decide where to draw district lines?
The Commission's decisions will be governed by federal and state legal requirements as well as criteria specific to Escondido. The US Constitution requires districts contain roughly equal population and it and the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) prohibit racial discrimination. The federal Voting Rights Act also prohibits discrimination because of language minority status1 in addition to practices that have a discriminatory effect, such as at-large elections or districts that make it harder for a racial or language minority group to elect a representative of choice.
Escondido's decisions will also be governed by specific criteria resulting from a consent decree in a California VRA case. In ranked order, the Commission must address the following criteria:
- All districts comply with the United States Constitution. This includes that each district contain about the same number of people.
- All districts comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. This could mean drawing one or more majority-minority districts, if it is possible to do so.
- All districts must be contiguous and encourage compactness.
1The VRA defines "language minority" as Asian, Native American, Alaska Native or Spanish heritage languages.
- Why should I get involved?
The Commission needs to hear from you to help it make informed decisions about where to draw district lines. In particular, it needs information from you about your neighborhoods and communities of interests. Only you know your communities and neighborhoods. Keeping your neighborhoods and communities together in the same district can help you get more responsive representation. By sharing that information with the Commission, you can help them avoid dividing your community into different districts.
- How can I get involved?
The Commission will ask for your input in a variety of ways. You can come to one or more of the six public hearing workshops and tell the Commission about your community directly. You can attend one of the Commission's business meetings and provide information during open forum. At the hearings, translation services will be available for those who need them.
If you can't attend a hearing, you can still tell the Commission about your community in writing.
You can drop off or send information to the commission at the City Clerk's Office:
Escondido Independent Districting Commission
c/o Escondido City Clerk's office
201 N. Broadway>
Escondido, CA 92025
You can email the Commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form.
If you have questions, you can call: 760-839-4617
For the most updated schedule and information, please check the City's website, which contains information about the Commission: www.escondido.org
The Commission wants to hear from you! Please give your information to them as soon as possible. The deadline to submit information is October 31, 2013.
- When are the hearings and what will happen there?
The Commission has scheduled six public input hearings plus 1 line-drawing meeting. After these hearings, a preliminary districting plan will be made available for review. The Commission will then hold three more hearings to get your feedback on their preliminary districting plan, and then make modifications to the districts as necessary.
Public input hearings:
In October, the Commission will hold public input hearings to hear from members of the Escondido community. They will be held on the following dates and locations:
- Thursday, October 10 – 6 pm Bear Valley Middle School, 3003 Bear Valley Pkwy., 92025
- Saturday, October 12 – 9 am at Hidden Valley Middle School, 2700 Reed Rd., 92027
- Thursday, October 17 – 6 pm at Church of the Resurrection, 1445 Conway Drive, 92027
- Saturday, October 19 – 9 am at Mission Middle School, 939 E. Mission Ave., 92025
- Thursday, October 24 – 6 pm at Felicita Elementary School, 737 W. 13th Ave. 92025
- Sunday, October 27 – 3 pm at City Council Chambers, 201 N. Broadway, 92025
At the public input hearings, the Commission's consultants will provide a brief training for all attendees and an opportunity for attendees to look at maps and data before providing testimony. You will be able to fill out a form that describes your neighborhood or community of interest to submit to the Commission or you can tell the Commission about it in person.
The Sunday, October 27 hearing will be followed by a meeting at 6 pm during which the Commission will start working on a preliminary map proposal.
Line Drawing meeting:
- Tuesday, October 29 – 6 pm at City Council Chambers, 201 N. Broadway, 92025
The October 29 meeting is entirely dedicated to working on and finishing the preliminary plan.
Preliminary Plan Input Meetings:
In November, the Commission will convene three hearings to solicit public comments about the preliminary districting plan. These hearings will take place on:
- Thursday, November 21 – 6 pm at Hidden Valley Middle School, 2700 Reed Rd., 92027
- Saturday, November 23 – 9 am at Mission Middle School, 939 E. Mission Ave., 92025
- Sunday, November 24 – 3 pm at Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., 92025
The Sunday hearing will be followed by a Commission meeting at 6pm in which the Commission may make adjustments to the preliminary plan based on public feedback. The Commission will then vote on the plan and send the Recommended Districting Plan to the City Council.
- What information does the Commission need from me?
The Commission needs to hear about your community of interest and/or your neighborhood.
The fourth criterion the Commission will use to draw district lines requires it to try to refrain from splitting neighborhoods and communities of interest (COIs) between districts. In order to comply with this criterion, the Commission needs to learn where those COIs and neighborhoods are located. Information and data about these are extremely limited from "official" sources, so the Commission really needs to hear from the public to make sure that they do a good job complying with this criterion. They need to hear from you about what defines your community and where it is located so they can avoid splitting into more than one district.
Where is your neighborhood?
For neighborhoods, the Commission also needs to hear where its boundaries are. You can describe it by outlining important landmarks, such as schools, parks or religious buildings located in the neighborhood. Boundaries may include the streets or other physical features such as train tracks, rivers/creeks/washes, parking lots/shopping centers, etc., that form the outside borders of your neighborhood. This allows the Commission to locate your neighborhood on the map they will use to draw districts. It will help the Commission if you give some information about your neighborhood: what is it called? What do you know about its history? Is there a neighborhood organization?
Where and what is your Community of Interest?
For Community of Interest (also called "COI"), the Commission needs to hear from you about what defines your community and where it is located. What is the basis or common interest that brings you and your community members together? For example, a COI might exist around a local school where people may participate in activities, around a bus transportation line that is commonly used by community members, around a park that is maintained by group of community members, or around a common cultural or language background. Just looking at a map, it is mostly impossible to know what common interests people living in a certain area share. Your information will help the Commission better understand what is going on with the people living in the areas represented on those maps and this will help them know what areas should be kept together in districts. Like with neighborhoods, the Commission also needs to learn from you where your COI is located. This includes telling the Commission about important landmarks in your community as well as the streets and physical aspects that form its borders.
Please provide your information to the Commission as early as possible. The deadline to submit information is October 31, 2013.
- Who is the Commission?
The Commission is made up of seven Escondido voters who were interested in serving in the effort to draw district lines. They applied to serve on the Independent Districting Commission and were selected by a Selection Panel of three retired judges who live in San Diego County.
The Commission is made up of the following individuals:
- Chair: Dana Nuesca - Biography
- Vice-Chair: John Valdez
- Commissioner: Jack Anderson - Biography
- Commissioner: Andrew Carey - Biography
- Commissioner: Doris Cruz
- Commissioner: Bill Flores - Biography
- Commissioner: Roberto Ramirez
- What are the requirements to be a Commissioner?
Each of the Commissioners had to comply with certain criteria. They have to be Escondido voters. In addition, they had to certify that they had not been involved in certain political behaviors in the last 10 years. They were not allowed to: (1) have been a candidate for local, state or federal elected office, (2) been a paid employee or consultant for a California political candidate or political committee, (3) been an official or paid employee of a California political party, (4) made donations greater than $5,000 in any 2-year period, and (5) cannot be a current candidate for any local, state, or federal elected office. In addition, Commission members must agree not to run for Escondido City Council for five years after their service on the Commission.
- Which data are used to draw district lines?
To equalize the populations in the districts, the Commission has to use the PL94-171 dataset. That is the dataset that was compiled from answers to the 2010 census questionnaire. This dataset has a number of different variables, including the count of the total population. This dataset does not differentiate between citizens and non-citizens: everyone who lived in the United States on Census day (April 1, 2010) and who filled out a form is counted. Districts are not equalized based on registered voters or on citizens. Districts are equalized based on the total population.
For the Voting Rights Act Criterion, the Commission will use the Citizen Voting Age Population variable from the American Community Survey. The commission may also use Statement of Registration and Statement of Vote data.
For the Contiguity and Compactness Criteria, the Commission will use Census geography.
To find out where Communities of Interest and Neighborhoods exist, the Commission will use public input and public submissions of data.
- What are Census block groups?
The Census bureau releases data on many different geographies, called 'units of analysis.' Census block groups are one such unit. The smallest unit is the Census block. We use census blocks to 'build' the districts because those are the smallest unit on which the total population counts are reported, thus blocks give us the most accurate data for how many people live in each district. Census block groups consist of a number of blocks. Some datasets are only reported by Census block group, such as some variables in the American Community Survey.