On Tuesday, Jan. 11, Highland City Council decided to keep the city’s voting districts as they are after reviewing an analysis of the 2020 U.S. Census data that concluded that the city’s existing district map was balanced and in compliance with the California Voting Rights Act. The decision will be made official once the council approves an ordinance adopting the district map, which is scheduled for the Feb. 22 city council meeting.
Based on the new census data, Highland has a population of 57,232 and each of the city’s five city council districts should have approximately 11,446 residents. The existing district map, drafted when the city transitioned from at-large to by-district voting in 2016, demonstrated a 7.03 percent total deviation from ideal population distribution. District 5, represented by Mayor Larry McCallon, had the greatest deviation, 3.89 percent.
According to a report from National Demographics Corporation, which the city contracted as a redistricting consultant, this deviation is less than the legal maximum of 10 percent, which allows the city to keep the map if they choose.
The redistricting process is a legal requirement during which governmental bodies must review and adopt district boundaries every 10 years based on the new census data. The adopted boundaries must have equal populations, comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act, comply with the California Voting Rights Act, be geographically contiguous and have easily identifiable boundaries.
Tuesday’s city council meeting was the third of four required public hearings held to complete the process. As part of the requirement, the city must engage and make opportunities for the public to provide input on the district map. While COVID-19-related restrictions altered this process, the city reached out to the public through public hearings (in-person and teleconferenced) as well as online.
The city has operated a redistricting website on which residents had the opportunity to draw and submit their own suggested district maps.
According to city staff, no suggested maps were submitted before the Jan. 3 deadline.
Given that the city’s existing map is less than 10 years old, demonstrates less than 10 percent deviation from ideal population distribution and no alterations were suggested, the city council voted unanimously to continue using the current map.
The council will vote to pass an ordinance formally approving the map at the fourth and final redistricting public hearing, scheduled for Feb. 22. This will allow the city to submit the map to the registrar of voters by the April 17 deadline.