Without a successful lawsuit Antioch Council prohibited by state law from redrawing district lines

The Antioch City Council on a 3-2 vote adopted the gerrymandered Draft Map A – Modified as their final choice during a special meeting on Friday, March 11, 2022, moving District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock into District 4. Source: City of Antioch

Can’t move Ogorchock from District 4 back into District 3

By Allen D. Payton

The council majority gerrymandered the Antioch City Council districts, earlier this year, and moved District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock into District 4. To clear up any confusion and quell false rumors that a new council majority can redraw the district lines and move her back into District 3, following is the information I’ve been able to obtain on the subject:

According to redistricting consultant Karin Mac Donald of Q2 Data and Research, who is also the Director of California’s Statewide Database & Election Administration Research Center at U.C. Berkeley, and consultant for both the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission and the City of Antioch’s redistricting process, California prohibits redrawing district lines mid-decade, with few exceptions. Those includes the city increasing in population by at least 25%.

According to a presentation by the Nielsen Merksamer law firm and National Demographics Corporation, as of 2021 mid-decade redistricting is never allowed, “unless in conjunction with judicial proceedings, or jurisdictional boundary changes, and then with qualifications.”

So, since the city’s population is not going to increase by 25% and unless someone sues the city over the gerrymandered redistricting maps created by the current council majority, and a judge rejects the current map and requires the council to redraw the district boundaries, a new council majority cannot redraw them before the next Census in 2030.

Questions were sent via email to Ariana Marmolejo and David Vance of Common Cause asking if the new council can redraw the district lines. Marmolejo referred this reporter to Nick Heidorn of Heidorn Consulting who helped draft the FAIR MAPS Act on the municipal redistricting process, which became state law in 2019.

Emails were sent Sunday evening to both Heidorn and Sean Welch of the Nielsen Merksamer law firm asking what the jurisdictional changes and qualifications are.

UPDATE: Heidorn responded by sharing the two jurisdictional changes, which are an increase in the city’s territory and population, or if the size of the council is increased. But that would require Antioch convert to a charter city from the current general law city form of government.

“The relevant code sections are below. Not in these sections, but redistricting would also be required if the size of the council were increased.

Elections Code 21603:  https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=ELEC&sectionNum=21603.

(a) If the boundaries of a city expand by the addition of new territory, including through annexation of unincorporated territory or consolidation with another city, the council shall add that new territory to the nearest existing council district without changing the boundaries of other council district boundaries.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the council may adopt new boundaries for each council district under the circumstances described in subdivision (a) if both of the following conditions are met:

(1) There are more than four years until the council is next required to redistrict pursuant to Section 21601.

(2) The population of the new territory being annexed or consolidated is greater than 25 percent of the city’s population, as determined by the most recent federal decennial census.

Elections Code 21605: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=ELEC&sectionNum=21605.

(a) After redistricting or districting pursuant to Section 21601 or 21603, a council shall not adopt new council district boundaries until after the next federal decennial census, except under the following circumstances:

(1) A court orders the council to redistrict.

(2) The council is settling a legal claim that its council district boundaries violate the United States Constitution, the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (52 U.S.C. Sec. 10301 et seq.), or this article.

(3) The boundaries of the city change by the addition of territory pursuant to Section 21603 or by the subtraction of territory.

(b) This section does not prohibit a council from adopting council districts between federal decennial censuses if the council is adopting council districts for the first time, including when a city adopts council districts for the purpose of transitioning from electing its council members in at-large elections to elections by districts or from districts.”

Please check back later for any additional updates to this report.

the attachments to this post:

Antioch City Council districts map 2022

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