Legislative Public Meetings

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File #: 19-0362   
Type: Report to Council Status: Passed
Meeting Body: City Council
On agenda: 6/18/2019
Title: Summary of California Voting Rights Act Phase 1 Community Input, Direction on Number of City Council Districts for a March 2020 Ballot Measure to Amend the City Charter to Implement City Council By-District Elections, and Summary of Phase 2 Next Steps.
Attachments: 1. Resolution No. 931-19, 2. June 6, 2019 letter from plaintiffs regarding 4+3 option, 3. Council Election Outreach Plan, 4. Draft District Elections Phase 2 Schedule, 5. Presentation to Council 20190618
Related files: 18-1059, 19-0524, 18-0776, 19-0677, 19-1168, 19-0676, 19-0678
REPORT TO COUNCIL

SUBJECT
Title
Summary of California Voting Rights Act Phase 1 Community Input, Direction on Number of City Council Districts for a March 2020 Ballot Measure to Amend the City Charter to Implement City Council By-District Elections, and Summary of Phase 2 Next Steps.

Report
BACKGROUND
On September 5, 2018, the City Council held a public hearing regarding changing 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.

In October 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." Three additional potential plaintiffs, Sunnyvale residents Galen Kim Davis, Kathy Higuchi, and Bowman Ching, joined the CVRA challenge in January.

Council adopted a resolution of intent to change to district-based elections pursuant to Elections Code section 10010 in November 2018, which provided a 90-day "safe harbor" period during which the City could not 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.

In December 2018, Council adopted a community outreach plan and directed staff to return in February 2019 with an update on initial outreach. Based on the results of initial public outreach as well as legal issues and risks, Council adopted an amended Resolution of Intent, Resolution No. 931-19 (See Attachment 1), on March 19, 2019 to place a charter amendment on the ballot in March 2020.

Staff presented information ...

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