Santa Rosa City Council to review final redistricting map on Tuesday


The Santa Rosa City Council appears to be largely sticking to the status quo as the city reconfigures district boundaries to account for population loss in northeast Santa Rosa and growth in southeast Santa Rosa. west of town.

City Council will review and vote on a final map at Tuesday’s council meeting following a month-long process that was triggered by updated population figures following the 2020 U.S. Census.

About half a square mile of land would displace districts affecting about 3,220 residents of Districts 2, 3, 4 and 5 under the map the council is considering, city spokesman Kevin King said.

Districts 1, 6 and 7 would remain unchanged, he said.

If approved, the map will define the lines of the city’s seven council districts for the next decade and will be used in November’s council elections where four of the seven seats are on the ballot.

Santa Rosa moved into district elections in 2018 under threat of a lawsuit from a Southern California attorney who claimed the city’s general election disenfranchised minority voters.

Councilman John Sawyer, the city’s longest-serving incumbent who represents District 2 in southeast Santa Rosa, said elected officials wanted from the start to ensure there was minimal boundary disruption. current so as not to confuse residents. The incumbents will likely benefit as well, as they campaign for another four-year term.

“We wanted to keep the neighborhoods pretty much intact for the time being, and then in 10 years I’m sure things will change enough where it will be important and necessary to make more substantial changes than we want this time around,” did he declare. .

District 4 will see the biggest changes

The city began the redistricting process in October and held five public meetings where residents were able to provide feedback and review draft maps. Residents were also given the opportunity to submit their own maps for council review.

Districts should be relatively equal in population, have contiguous boundaries and neighborhoods, and “communities of interest” should remain intact, King said.

Santa Rosa’s seven districts will each have about 25,500 people according to the new map, and changes to existing boundaries are intended to distribute the population more evenly among the districts, he said.

The biggest changes will occur in Northeast Santa Rosa’s District 4, which has seen a decline in population, according to the latest census.

Council member Victoria Fleming, who has represented the area since 2018, attributed the gap to population loss in Fountaingrove after the 2017 firestorm and a delay in rebuilding efforts as other parts of the city ​​developed. Inaccurate population counts related to the pandemic and the previous presidential administration’s efforts to hamper the once-a-decade effort may also have led to a lower count in his district, Fleming said.

District 4 would absorb the Ridgway Historic District bounded by Ridgway and College Avenues and Highway 101 and Mendocino Avenue, which is currently part of District 5. A piece of District 2 along Santa Rosa Creek and a small section of District 3 west of Mission Boulevard would also be part of District 4.

District 5 would gain a section of District 2 between Santa Rosa Creek, Sonoma Avenue, E Street and Brookwood Avenue.

The boundary changes would mean District 4 would gain nearly 3,000 new residents, while Districts 2 and 3 would each lose about 1,000 residents, and District 5 would lose about 600 residents, according to the city.

Council members say changes keep focus on critical issues

Mayor Chris Rogers said the envisioned map keeps neighborhoods whole and ensures areas such as Roseland can continue to be represented on the stage.

Council members did not want to divide wards and felt more drastic boundary changes would be confusing for residents still getting used to district elections, he said.

Feedback from residents also showed support for minimal changes, the mayor said.

The board considered two other cards which were ultimately discarded. One of them divided Coffey Park along the Sonoma-Marin Region Railroad Transit Line, a divider used in the Sonoma County redistricting process, and would have created a single district in southwest Santa Rosa. The other cut Roseland in half.

Rogers described them as “completely unworkable” and said he did not favor changes that would harm Roseland’s ability to elect its own representation, as much of the constituency process was driven by efforts. aimed at ensuring that historically marginalized groups have adequate representation on the board.

Dividing neighborhoods in northern Santa Rosa would also have diluted their ability to lobby for their interests, Fleming said.

Maintaining similar limits could benefit more than residents, as the proposed new lines also favor incumbent council members.

Sawyer said major boundary changes could have pushed an incumbent out of their district.

The council has already seen an upheaval when Jack Tibbetts resigned in December, triggering an election this fall to serve out the rest of his term. Longtime Council member Tom Schwedhelm is not seeking a third term, leaving District 6 Northwest up for grabs.

This will bring stability to the board as members tackle issues from the downtown pandemic recovery to housing and homelessness, said Sawyer, who is up for re-election but was not yet ready to say publicly whether he would run again.

Fleming agreed and said the council did not want to make any changes that would “distract from current business.”

You can reach editor Paulina Pineda at 707-521-5268 or paulina.pineda@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @paulinapineda22.

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