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File #: 19-0044   
Type: Report to Council Status: Passed
Meeting Body: City Council
On agenda: 2/26/2019
Title: Update on California Voting Rights Act Community Education and Outreach and Potential Direction on Next Steps for City Council By-District Elections
Attachments: 1. January 18, 2019 Letter Adding Potential Plaintiffs, 2. Presentation to Council 20190226 (RTC 19-0044)
Related files: 19-0361
REPORT TO COUNCIL

SUBJECT
Title
Update on California Voting Rights Act Community Education and Outreach and Potential Direction on Next Steps for City Council By-District Elections

Report
BACKGROUND
On September 5, 2018, the City Council held a public hearing regarding changing from the City's current at-large with numbered seats system for electing City Council members to a district-based form of elections (RTC No. 18-0776). Council directed staff to scope a public outreach and education plan for receiving public input on transitioning to district-based elections, with the goal of placing a measure on the November 2020 ballot for voters to decide whether to amend the City Charter to change from at-large with numbered seats to district-based elections.

On October 9, 2018, the City received a certified letter from attorney Laura Ho of the law firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, alleging on behalf of potential plaintiff Samir Kalra that the City's current electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act ("CVRA") because it "dilutes the voting power of Asian American voters."

On November 20, 2018, Council adopted a resolution of intent to change to district-based elections pursuant to Elections Code section 10010, which provides a 90-day "safe harbor" period during which the City cannot be sued. In adopting that resolution, the Council restated its prior direction to move forward with a change to district based elections, and its commitment to do so with public outreach and engagement, and identified possible election dates of March 2020 or November 2020 for amending the City Charter to allow for by-district elections. However, the Council did not make a final determination about the timing and substance of such a ballot measure.

On December 11, 2018, Council adopted the community outreach plan and directed staff to return in February 2019 with an update on initial outreach. On January 18, 2019, the City received a second letter (Attachment 1) fr...

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