Palm Desert May Ask Voters to Decide Number of Electoral Districts
The question of whether Palm Desert should increase from two to five constituencies could be put to voters in the 2022 election.
The city council will hold a study session Thursday at 2 p.m. to discuss the possibility of a measure by ballot. It will take place virtually and can be viewed on the city ââYouTube channel or via the city’s website, cityofpalmdesert.org, by clicking on âCouncil Agendaâ at the top of the home page, then selecting the study session of October 28.
As part of the study session, no formal action can be taken, and any recommendations will be considered at an upcoming regular board meeting, the date of which is yet to be determined.
The city moved to two electoral districts for the 2020 election as part of a settlement deal in a lawsuit brought by residents Lorraine Salas and Karina Quintanilla accusing the city of violating the California Voting Rights Act with its general electoral system.
The Voting Rights Act requires cities to move to districts, grouping together âcommunities of interestâ to ensure that protected minorities have a better chance of representation.
Twenty percent of the city’s residents reside in District 1, which has the largest Latin American population based on 2000 census results which showed the city had 48,433 residents, of which 26 percent are Latino or Hispanic .
The 2020 census results show that the city’s population is now 51,163, of which 26% are Hispanic or Latino, although the population has increased by 2,300, according to the census report.
District 1 is bounded by Route 111 to the south; Deep Canyon Road to the east; and Monterey Avenue west to Fred Waring Drive where it extends further west to include the Vista Bonita Paseo Way, Fleetwood Circle and Gloriana Drive neighborhoods.
The northwestern boundary is a jagged line that includes Park View Drive and part of Magnesia Falls Drive. The boundary then extends northeast through the Whitewater Channel to include an area within Rebecca Road, 42nd Avenue and Cook Street.
District 1, the smaller of the two districts and known as the âCivic Center Core Districtâ encompassing San Pablo Avenue from Highway 111 South and its surrounding neighborhoods and College of the Desert, has an elected representative every four years.
Quintanilla was elected District 1 representative in November and said moving to five districts was a priority for her, but was also happy with the current boundary map approved by council in May 2020.
During the process of mapping the boundaries of the two neighborhoods, city council heard from residents who supported and opposed two neighborhoods. Many opponents lived in the area that would become District 1 and said they didn’t like that they could vote for one representative every four years, while residents of District 2 could vote for four.
âI think we’ve forgotten the humanitarian part of this and how it’s going to affect the people who live in this districtâ¦â resident Joe Scarna said at a council meeting in February 2020. âI think the only one right thing is a situation in five districts. I don’t even like this idea, but I think it’s a good idea, âhe said.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the towns of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas