Sacramento’s City Council districts are going to look different come 2022 because of a daunting map-drawing effort by the city’s independent redistricting commission.
This process, which follows the decennial U.S. census, will determine political lines in Sacramento for the next decade. The Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission has been gathering feedback for months over how these new districts should look.
Here’s what you need to know about redistricting in the city, how it impacts you and how you can get involved.
What is redistricting?
After a decade of births, deaths and migration, districts around the country tend to have unequal population numbers. Redistricting refreshes political maps and districts. Using the latest data from the census, new lines are drawn up. This happens everywhere and at every level, from congressional and legislative districts, to city councils, county boards and other electoral districts.
Those new boundaries will remain in place for 10 years, until the next round of redistricting in 2031.
Why does it matter?
The answer is all about representation. When district lines are drawn this year, it not only will determine which city councilmember will represent a neighborhood, but also which neighborhoods will be voting together in future elections.
After redistricting, you may be placed in a new city council district or see the boundaries of your districts shift, bringing in residents from other areas or moving neighbors into other districts.
It also helps communities stay intact. The redistricting commission has to consider neighborhoods that share common interests, whether those are social, cultural, racial, ethnic or economic. The SIRC even takes into consideration many maps created by community members.
Lynette Hall, Sacramento’s Community Engagement Manager, says it’s also about people having their voices heard in a process that directly impacts their way of life.
“Oftentimes people say that governments don't listen to them and they're not in a position of power,” Hall said. “Now the power is completely in the hands of the community. The council members have no impact on the decisions that the Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission makes.”
Who draws the new maps?
You’ve probably gathered by now that the answer to this question is the Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission, or SIRC.
Sacramento voters launched the commission in 2016 after approving Measure L. The ballot measure created an independent commission designed to prevent gerrymandering and political influence from prioritizing special interests over community interests.
In this case, members of the SIRC must be active voters of the city and cannot be related to city elected officials or have donated more than $2,000 to one in recent elections. They also can’t work for the city, be a registered lobbyist, or run for office in the city within 10 years after being on the commission, among other things.
Who is on Sacramento’s redistricting commission?
The SIRC is made up of 13 members who all live in different parts of Sacramento. Eight of the commissioners — one from each council district — were selected from a pool of applicants by the Sacramento Ethics Commission. Those eight members selected the remaining five, plus two alternates.
- Jeremy Belt, District 1
- Ari Green, District 2
- Manpreet Bains, District 3
- Kristina Hanna, District 4
- Nicodemus Ford, District 5
- Wesley Hussey, District 6
- Arturo Gandara, District 7
- Pritam Thind, District 8
- Darren Conly, District 5
- Jesus Hernandez, District 7
- Catherine Horiuchi, District 4
- Phillip Ung, District 1
- Ronald Spingarn, District 3
- Charron Andrus, District 2 — Alternate
- Craig Davis, District 5 — Alternate
After being selected earlier this year, Philip Ung has since resigned from the commission. Charron Andrus moved into that position through a random draw.
What rules or guidelines are there for drawing new maps?
The SIRC has to draw and adopt a final map that meets these rules, according to the city:
- Council districts are substantially equal in population
- The final map complies with the U.S. and California constitutions, Federal Voting Rights Act, and any other requirement of federal or state law applicable to charter cities.
- Each council district is geographically contiguous.
There are also things that the commission considers when drawing the final map. These criteria are, in order of priority:
- Existing neighborhoods and community boundaries
- Communities of interest, which is a contiguous population that shares common social and economic interests and should be in one district
- Integrity and compactness of territory
- Geography and topography
- Natural and artificial barriers and boundaries
- Preservation of population cores that have consistently been associated with each council district
- Other commission-adopted criteria that do not conflict with the other requirements and criteria listed in this section or with state or federal law
The SIRC cannot consider any individual’s neighborhood, especially not that of any political candidate or incumbent.
When will new maps be completed?
The commission has until Dec. 16 to adopt a final map that’ll shape Sacramento for the next decade.
Here’s the timeline of how the process has gone so far. To note, many of these dates have already passed.
- February 2021: Commission planning for process.
- March: Community education and outreach begins.
- April-December: The SIRC meets once in each of the eight Council Districts.
- July: Redistricting mapping application with practice data available to the public.
- Sept. 30: Community members can redraw districts and outline communities of interest using the 2020 Census redistricting data.
- Nov. 7: Maps due to the commission from the public.
- November- December: SIRC works to create and adopt a new district map.
- Jan. 2022: SIRC submits the report to the City Council.
How can I make my voice heard?
There are several ways to get involved in the final month of this process, but the easiest is simply attending the weekly meetings. Because of the pandemic, these meetings are currently being held virtually, so you’ll have to call in to give public comment.
The final four meetings will be at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 18, Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec.16.
You can also submit comments online about the redistricting process. Those comments are then made available for the commissioners to review and consider.
The city has also been offering stipends to neighborhood organizations to hold meetings and spread the word.
Clarification: This story was updated to note that Philip Ung resigned from the commission after being selected. Charron Andrus moved into that position through a random draw.
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