Contra Costa college board to hold redistricting hearing Dec. 8, but no online mapping tool offered for public input

Source: 4CD

Only one proposed map to be presented by district staff, attorney and only one public hearing will be held; wards aren’t required to be equal in size, can have a 5% population deviation from average, so they can match the Supervisors’ new map; Trustees Walters, Sandoval committed to an independent redistricting body/commission during their 2020 campaigns; Sandoval will request it at Dec. 8 meeting; Board President Li offers to consider one after process is completed; deadline is Feb. 28, 2022

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Nov. 10, the Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) Board of Trustees received a presentation about Ward Equalization Based on the 2020 Census. The process will begin during a public hearing at their Dec. 8 meeting, with one map presented by District staff and attorney, and must be completed by the end of February. However, there will be no online mapping tool for the public to use to submit proposed, alternative maps, like the Board of Supervisors and some cities like Antioch and Brentwood have offered. 111021-4CD Trustee Area Redistricting presentation

According to the 2020 Census, the population of the District is now 1,165,927 a growth of 116,902 since 2010. That results in an average ward population of 233,186. Ward 5 has experienced the greatest population growth in the previous decade and is now 7.1% over average. Although state education code requires the population of each ward be equal “as nearly as may be”, according to 4CD staff the wards can legally have a population deviation from one to the other as great as 10%, just like the Board of Supervisors are allowed. Their final map has a total deviation of 9.77%. (See related article)

The 2011 ward map splits a variety of cities, including Pinole in West County, Martinez and Concord in Central County, and Pittsburg, Antioch and Brentwood in East County. Concord, Pleasant Hill, Pacheco and portions of Martinez and Pittsburg are included in Ward 2 The map includes Clayton and portions of Antioch and Brentwood with Danville, San Ramon, Blackhawk and Camino Tassajara in the Ward 4. Alamo is included in Ward 2 with Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, as well as Hercules, Rodeo and Crockett, and portions of Pinole and Martinez.

In which cities the current board members live will be taken into consideration. Ward 2 Trustee Dr. Judy Walters lives in Martinez, and Ward 5 Trustee Fernando Sandoval, a Pittsburg resident, were elected last year. Ward 1 Trustee and Richmond resident, John Marquez, Ward 3 Trustee Rebecca Barrett who also lives in Martinez and Ward 4 Trustee Andy Li, a San Ramon resident, are up for election, next year.

According to the staff report on the Nov. 10th presentation, “Pursuant to Education Code Section 5019.5, following each decennial federal census, and using population figures as validated by the Demographic Research Unit of the Department of Finance as a basis, the governing board of each school district or community college district in which trustee areas have been established, and in which each trustee is elected by the residents of the area the trustee represents, shall adjust the boundaries of any or all of the trustee areas of the district such that the population of each is, as nearly as may be, the same proportion of the total population of the district as each of the other areas. 4CD must update ward boundaries as needed to achieve this equalization by February 28, 2022. The attached presentation is informational and represents the first phase of this process.”

Since there was nothing mentioning the districts ward equalization process on the 4CD website, several questions were asked of Executive Vice Chancellor Mojdeh Mezhdizadeh, in charge of the redistricting process, and District PIO Timothy Leong.

Q. Will there be an online mapping tool for the public to use to submit proposed maps on the district’s website, as other agencies, including Contra Costa County and the Cities of Antioch and Brentwood, as well as the state are offering.?

A. No. The process you are referring to are related to municipality actions being done in compliance with the Fair Maps Act, which are to be followed when cities and counties address the redistricting challenge following the 2020 Census. Community college districts are governed by different legal standards, specifically Education Code section 5019.5.

That code also reads:

“(a)(1) The population of each area is, as nearly as may be, the same proportion of the total population of the district as the ratio that the number of governing board members elected from the area bears to the total number of members of the governing board.

(2) The population of each area is, as nearly as may be, the same proportion of the total population of the district as each of the other areas.

(b) The boundaries of the trustee areas shall be adjusted by the governing board of each school district or community college district, in accordance with subdivision (a), before the first day of March of the year following the year in which the results of each decennial census are released. If the governing board fails to adjust the boundaries before the first day of March of the year following the year in which the results of each decennial census are released, the county committee on school district organization shall do so before the 30th day of April of the same year.”

Q. Will there be a hearing schedule for the public to participate in the process?

A. A public hearing on redistricting will be scheduled at the Governing Board’s December 8, 2021, meeting, to obtain community input on the District’s draft redistricting recommendation. In addition, a proposed draft map will be shared and described at this meeting.

Q. The presentation during the Nov. 10th board meeting and the staff report reads, “4CD must update ward boundaries as needed to achieve this equalization by February 28, 2022” and the “presentation is informational and represents the first phase of this process.” What is that process going to beand when, please? When will the next board meeting be held? It doesn’t show on the Board Docs webpage.

A. The presentation at the November 10, 2021, Governing Board meeting, was the first phase of the redistricting process. Since that meeting, 4CD research staff, under the direction of legal counsel, have been analyzing the 2020 Census information and are finalizing a draft recommendation to adjust the five wards in order to meet the population balance and proportions as required by Education Code.  This will be presented at the December 8, 2021, Governing Board meeting.

Q. Why doesn’t the board simply use the same map approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors? While I recognize there is a small portion of the county on the south end, east of San Ramon and Camino Tassajara is outside of the district. That would not change the deviation percentage much.

A. The development of supervisorial wards were done at a different time and separately from those of the 4CD trustees. The processes are also governed by different legal requirements. The College District is in the process of following applicable laws to meet the needs of its constituency.

Q. But why would that preclude the board from offering an online mapping tool for the public to use to submit proposed maps for consideration?

A. The opportunity for community input on 4CD’s redistricting process and proposal will be available during the Governing Board’s December 8, 2021, meeting. I understand you submitted a proposed redistricting map to the Board of Supervisors, and if you wish for our trustees to consider that map, I would recommend you submit it to Pat Kaya atpkaya@4cd.eduby December 3, 2021, so that it can be considered.

Q. Why will only one draft map be shared by staff at the Dec. 8 board meeting and not several alternatives?

A. Our recommendation to the Governing Board at the November 10, 2021, meeting, and based on past practice, was for staff to provide one map of a proposed adjustment to the ward boundaries. Trustees will have the opportunity to review the proposal at their December 8, 2021, meeting, and along with community input, can decide if it meets their approval or ask staff to make further adjustments to the proposal for review at their January 12, 2022, meeting.

Q. A very small portion of the county east of San Ramon and Camino Tassajara, is not in the 4CD, but is part of the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. What is the population of the area of Contra Costa County not included in the district?

A. We are seeking the County’s assistance to determine the population of the county that is not covered within the 4CD service territory because we do not track that information.

Q. After reading that education code section, it appears school and college district boards must follow the same guideline as the U.S. House of Representatives in having equal population per district, with no 5% maximum deviation like the Board of Supervisors can have.

A. Legal counsel advises us that we do not follow the same standard as the House of Representatives. For example, school (districts) having a 10% and below deviation are presumptively balanced for legal purposes.

Q. In response Mezhdizadeh and Leong were asked, “does that mean a 5% deviation from average? If so, why can’t the maps created for the Board of Supervisors work for the college district?”

12/2/21 UPDATE: Leong responded, “We are required to assess based on variance, and our max is 10%. Based on the data we received from the 2020 Census, we learned the variance was over 10%, triggering the work to rebalance our wards. Our recommended draft ward boundaries now have a variance of 1.7%.”

As for using the map created for the Board of Supervisors, he responded, “That is a conversation and decision for the Governing Board to make.”

Regarding the population of the area of Contra Costa County not included in the district, Leong wrote, “According to the County Elections Office, Census Tract 3551.12 contains 116 census blocks, and has a population of 1,593.”

Two Trustees Committed to Independent Redistricting Body/Commission

During the 2020 election campaign, Ward 2 Trustee Dr. Walters said she would support an independent redistricting body to redraw districts, in response to a question from the League of Women Voters.

“After the 2020 Census is completed, districts will need to be redrawn in 2021. If elected, will you support an independent redistricting body to redraw districts? Why or why not?

Answer from Judy E. Walters: Yes, independent redistricting bodies have drawn impartial boundaries and avoid gerrymandering, or drawing district lines that benefit certain incumbent legislators and/or the political party in power.”

In response to the same question, Ward 5 Trustee Fernando Sandoval also gave his support for an independent redistricting commission.

Answer from Fernando Sandoval: I will wholeheartedly support an independent redistricting commission to redraw districts for Contra Costa Community Colleges. Both the State of California and municipalities like the City of Berkeley and several others have passed measures to create commissions that are free of political influence. This, in turn, has ensured that the districts that are ultimately agreed upon are more representative of the communities of interest that reside there.”

Board Can Increase the Number of Trustees

That same code section also reads: “the authority to establish or abolish trustee areas, rearrange the boundaries of trustee areas, increase or decrease the number of members of the governing board, or adopt any method of electing governing board members may be exercised only as otherwise provided under this article.”

Q. Does that mean the college board can increase the number of trustees on the board and corresponding districts? If they choose to do so, does that need to occur during the redistricting process? What is the maximum number of trustees allowed on the board?

A. The Governing Board can decide to change the number of elected trustees at any time and does not have to coincide with this redistricting process. It is a completely separate topic from the post-census Redistricting process, which is the District’s main focus at this time in order to meet the February 28, 2022, deadline.

Questions for Trustees

In an email on Saturday afternoon, all five trustees were asked the following questions:

Will you support forming an independent redistricting commission of residents to assist you with the Ward Equalization, this year?

Will you also commit to basing the new boundaries on principles of:

  1. One person one vote with as little population deviation from one district to the other;
  1. Compactness;
  2. Communities of Interest – such as keeping all the San Ramon Valley cities and communities together, and not including East County with the San Ramon Valley as the current Ward 4 does; and
  3. Splitting the larger cities, first, such as Concord, Antioch and Walnut Creek

If you choose to have ward populations with a deviation as much as 10%, recognizing a very small portion of the county is not in the college district, why not simply adopt the same map the Board of Supervisors adopted?

Would you support increasing the number of trustees and corresponding districts to seven, as the Las Positas-Chabot Community College District and Peralta Community College District have? Why or why not?

Finally, in which city do each of you live? Only President Li includes that he lives in San Ramon in his bio on the 4CD website Board page. Since that will be a consideration in redrawing the ward boundaries, that’s important for the public to know when giving input to you during the process.

Board President Li Responds

Only Board President Li responded to the Herald’s questions with the following:

“The Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) is working closely with legal counsel to ensure we administer a fair and impartial redistricting process following Education Code section 5019.5. Since 2020 Census data was released about 6 months later than usual, 4CD did not receive the final 2020 census data until the last week of September and we are required to complete our post-census redistricting process by February 28, 2022 as required by law.

4CD is following a process to re-draw ward boundaries to ensure population balance and proportion as stipulated in Education Code. Other considerations presented and discussed at the Governing Board’s November 10, 2021, meeting, included ensuring compliance with the federal voter rights act, compact and contiguous areas, respecting communities of interest as much as possible, and respecting incumbency.

The questions in your November 27, 2021, email refers to your interest in obtaining support for an independent redistricting body to redraw our ward boundaries that could be consistent with ward areas similar to those recently approved by the Board of Supervisors. This was not the direction we provided staff during our November 10, 2021, public meeting.

If there was interest by the trustees to pursue this idea to completely redraw our ward boundaries and other proposals such as increasing the number of trustees, the Governing Board would place this item on a future meeting agenda so the conversation could be done publicly, and it would take place after we have rebalanced our existing wards based on populations changes outlined in the 2020 Census.

Regarding the use of a public mapping tool, the Governing Board did not feel this it was necessary to rebalancing the population as required by Education Code 5019.5. If, after the completion of the redistricting work is completed, and the Governing Board chooses to pursue the idea to completely revamp our trustee wards, a mapping tool could also be considered.”

Since he didn’t answer some of the questions, Li was asked the following, again: “If you choose to have ward populations with a deviation as much as 10%, recognizing a very small portion of the county is not in the college district, why not simply adopt the same map the Board of Supervisors adopted? Would you support increasing the number of trustees and corresponding districts to seven, as the Las Positas-Chabot Community College District and Peralta Community College District have? Why or why not?”

Four Other Board Members Asked, Again

The other four board members were sent the same questions, again asking for each of them to respond. In addition, Walters and Sandoval were specifically asked, “why didn’t you propose appointing an independent citizens commission for redistricting as you committed during your campaigns, last year?”

Sandoval Responds, Commits to Requesting Independent Commission

“The board in open session has not had a discussion on redistricting, yet because we haven’t seen the data,” Sandoval said when reached for comment. “I want to ensure the public has the opportunity to weigh in on the process and the work that will be done by district staff. That’s part of the transparency we need to have for the process.”

“I will fulfill my commitment to ask for the independent redistricting commission,” he added. “Speaking on my own behalf, I will also ask for more transparency.”

Regarding expanding the board to seven members, Sandoval said, “that’s something for the board to discuss. It isn’t something I ran on in 2016 or 2020 and was elected to do. But I’m open to having that discussion. Having seven board members is a mixed bag for several different reasons. But we have to discuss it and let the public weigh in on it.

Minutes of the November 10th board meeting was not yet available on the 4CD website as of publication time. It has been requested of Leong, Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 1. Minutes of past meetings are only available in the agenda of the next meeting. The Dec. 8 board meeting agenda is not yet posted on the 4CD’s Board Docs website. The links to the archive of board meeting videos are also not easy to find. They’re available, here: https://www.4cd.edu/gb/videos.html.

To contact each of the trustees, please see their phone and email contact information, here.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

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the attachments to this post:


4CD Population stats

111021-4CD Trustee Area Redistricting presentation
111021-4CD Trustee Area Redistricting presentation


CCCCD 2011 ward-boundaries-map


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