Marin adopts a redistribution card that strengthens the Latin bloc

Marin supervisors unanimously approved a new electoral map that concentrates more Latino residents in a single district, a move that supporters say will strengthen their political influence.

The new card, called the NDC channel map, incorporates some of the changes requested by Canal Alliance, the nonprofit that serves the predominantly Latin San Rafael Canal neighborhood.

The supervisory board initially approved the map at its December 7 meeting, pending technical revisions. They approved the final card on Tuesday.

Officials were tasked with reassessing district boundaries following the 2020 census to ensure that each district has roughly equal numbers of residents. The county’s deadline to adopt a card was Wednesday.

When drawing district boundaries, supervisors are required by law to seek to unite “communities of interest”. They are prohibited from diluting the voting power of minority groups.

The new map is in line with Canal Alliance’s request to move an area along Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael from District 1, represented by Supervisor Damon Connolly, to District 4, represented by Supervisor Dennis Rodoni.

The map also complied with the nonprofit’s call for parts of the Bret Harte and California Park neighborhoods, which are in District 2, represented by Supervisor Katie Rice, to be moved to the district 4.

“The regrouping of the Hispanic populations in San Rafael made sense,” Rodoni said in an email. “And now, including the Hispanic populations of West Marin, D4 has the largest population of Hispanic residents in the county. I am delighted to represent and work for all of these communities.

However, the new map does not move the Montecito / Happy Valley area adjacent to San Rafael High School from District 1 to District 4, as requested by Canal Alliance.

Previously, Deputy County Administrator Dan Eilerman, who led the redistribution effort, said there are key demographic differences between residents of Montecito / Happy Valley and the Canal region.

Eilerman said that while Latino residents make up 76% of the canal area, they only make up 28% of the Montecito / Happy Valley area. Eilerman said 57% of Canal residents speak Spanish at home, while only 21% of Montecito / Happy Valley residents do. While 46% of Canal residents are immigrants, only 18% of Montecito / Happy Valley residents are.

“We are very proud to be able to recognize the channel community as a clear community of interest here,” Eilerman said after the approval.

Another achievement, said Eilerman, was to reduce the population variation between districts from a difference of 9.18% to 2.65%.

The most basic redistribution requirement is that districts have an almost equal number of residents. A difference of 10% or less between the largest and the smallest district is considered to be constitutional and valid.

An alternative card that would have included all the changes requested by Canal Alliance would have resulted in a difference of 8.97%.

“It’s pretty important to be able to bring that number down to less than 3% without a lot of changes that would otherwise be confusing for residents,” he said.

Omar Carrera, chief executive of Canal Alliance, said he was grateful that county staff recognized the community’s demands.

“It has always been very difficult to organize the community and to be represented at the county level on matters of housing, transportation, etc., having to work with three different supervisors,” Carrera said. “It was complicated.”

“It really is a huge victory for this community of interests in the process of helping them be more visible to our elected officials and leaders across the county,” he said.

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