Santa Clarita Special Meeting, City Council District Map March 1, 2023

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To navigate to a specific part of the video, simply click on the timestamp links below. Each timestamp corresponds to a different section of the video, allowing you to jump to the parts that interest you the most easily.

00:00:00 In this section of the video, the speaker sets out the guidelines for the City of Santa Clarita meeting. He announces that the meeting will be conducted in both English and Spanish, with simultaneous translations available to Zoom participants, and headsets available for in-person attendees. Speaker cards and written comment cards in both languages are also available at the back table. Participants must fill out electronic speaker cards and sign into Zoom before 5:30 PM, and they will be called upon based on whether they are attending via Zoom or in-person. The speaker reminds attendees that they will have three minutes to speak and must state their name, area of residence, and give any copies of materials they have on their way up to the microphone.

00:05:00 In this section of the meeting, the city’s demographer, Douglas Johnson, presented the joint map that the city and plaintiff group have agreed upon as the starting point for district election discussions. Johnson also explained the different sets of rules for drawing district election maps, including federal laws on equal population and protecting the voting rights of “protected classes,” and California state laws on contiguity and avoiding splitting neighborhoods and communities. Residents were also given the opportunity to draw their own maps, with a deadline of April 3rd, and the next public hearing to discuss the maps is scheduled for April 13th.

00:10:00 In this section of the video, the speaker discusses the requirements and criteria that must be followed when redrawing the district lines for the city of Santa Clarita. These include four categories of requirements, such as population equality, compactness, and following easily identifiable boundaries such as roads and rivers. Additionally, there are other traditional redistricting principles, such as avoiding pairing current council members and considering future population growth within a small margin of change. The joint map proposal that the city and plaintiffs have agreed upon is also presented, which includes five districts in total with two seats up for reelection in 2024 and three seats up in 2026, and is available for public viewing on the city’s website.

00:15:00 In this section of the special City of Santa Clarita meeting, different tools for residents to draw district maps are discussed. They range from an interactive viewer that works like Google Maps to a paper version of the city broken up into population units, and an online tool called Dave’s Redistricting App which allows residents to draw maps at a city block level. The presenter emphasizes that these tools were designed to allow residents to share their thoughts and propose alternative maps. Additionally, residents who do not feel comfortable sharing their views do not need to worry as there will be a second hearing.

00:20:00 In this section of the special City of Santa Clarita meeting, the presenter discusses the process for the upcoming city district elections and encourages residents to visit the city website for more information. Afterward, public comments and questions are addressed, including concerns about the acoustics of the room and confusion about the proposed map for district boundaries. One speaker asks for clarification on how the proposed changes make the districts more equitable and their impact on the Hispanic vote percentage. Another speaker expresses frustration with the division caused by the districting process.

00:25:00 In this section, multiple speakers raise concerns about the proposal to merge Canyon Country with New Hall, stating that it goes against the right of people to live in the districts they already have formed. The speakers also criticize the potential political gain involved and warn about the harm such decisions could cause the community. Others point out that racially-based voting districts are a divisive and racist practice that go against the values of the city. However, a resident named Mark White expresses concern over the proposed map and requests that the separate communities be kept intact as much as possible. Overall, there are mixed opinions expressed regarding the proposed district changes.

00:30:00 In this section of the video, speakers address concerns over the implementation of district elections in Santa Clarita. One speaker emphasizes the importance of celebrating diversity and working together to improve the city for everyone, rather than creating divisions based on race. Another speaker expresses concern over the potential confusion among voters resulting from multiple different voting maps for various districts. Additionally, a Latino speaker opposes the merging of a small section of Canyon Country with New Hope based solely on racial quotas, asserting that Latinos are a diverse community with different experiences and political beliefs and demanding that elected officials reject any attempts to divide the community based on race.

00:35:00 In this section, residents of Santa Clarita express their outrage at the proposed districts, calling them divisive and racially motivated. One speaker calls out the compensation received by the individuals pushing for this proposal and questions their right to make decisions on behalf of those directly affected. Another speaker protests the location of the meeting, stating that they can only hear one-third of the conversation and urging that the next meeting be held at City Hall. A Hispanic Republican resident calls the proposed maps racist and unconstitutional, stating that they would divide residents with common interests into separate districts and dilute their votes. He promises to fight this in federal court and submit a map of two large districts for equal representation. Another speaker questions the need for Hispanic districts when there are already Hispanic politicians elected and expresses concern that this proposal is racially dividing the community.

00:40:00 In this section of the meeting, residents questioned the promotion of Hispanics and the lack of unity in the proposed planning in Santa Clarita. They expressed their concerns that the planning only proposes benefits for specific communities, and the redistricting action is not credible as it redlines voters. Residents shared that the current forum does not count as a valid one, as it is difficult to hear and the presentations can’t be read or heard. Finally, a resident spoke in support of the agreed-upon map created by the city and CVRA and commended the accessibility of Santa Clarita.

00:45:00 In this section, the board hears from a concerned citizen who believes that the opportunity given to residents to draw their own maps for the district-based elections has led to proposals that may potentially disadvantage many residents. The citizen argues that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) go beyond just race, considering socio-economic status, sexual orientation, culture, and worldview, among other things. The citizen hopes that the city will achieve fair and equitable district-based elections with future local governments that represent the current population. However, the citizen worries that the current proposed map is segregating people economically by the color of their skin and culture. The citizen believes that the proposed districts are a way for the attorney to make money and urges the board to go home and do their homework because the people who brought the lawsuit are not even in the district they’re insisting on.

00:50:00 In this section, two speakers express opposing views on district voting in Santa Clarita. Diane Zimmerman accuses city council members and Ken Striplin of being untrustworthy and forgetting that they work for taxpayers. She argues against district voting, citing the negative impact it has had on public schools and increasing government dependency. Meanwhile, Cat Walker speaks in support of district voting and the inclusive and equitable joint map that was created, citing the federal and California Voting Rights Acts as their basis. She also notes Santa Clarita’s rapid growth and the need for council districts. The two speakers represent the divide in opinions on district voting in the city.

00:55:00 In this section, speakers express their support for the use of district elections in Santa Clarita. The plaintiff’s attorney explains that moving to districts can give marginalized residents a greater voice and increase voter turnout. They also point out that every school district and the SCB Water Agency in the area have already gone to districts with no negative effects. The president of the Santa Clarita Valley NAACP supports the move to districts and cites statistics showing that at-large voting dilutes minority votes. Another resident, Duncan Mandel, supports the proposed map and believes that district elections will better represent the unique needs of each part of the city. The next speaker encourages districts as a way to make government more representative and competitive for voters of all races.

01:00:00 In this section of the transcript, a speaker discusses the benefits of a council that is accountable to its communities, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in American democracy. The speaker highlights the history of local elections in America, dating as far back as 1690, and the negative impact of having at-large elections, particularly in California. The purpose of the meeting is then explained, to hear public feedback on the recently proposed map, and the criteria for adjusting it if necessary. A community member speaks up to address their concerns with the current district map, specifically the need to be in line with other districts and the lack of sufficient demographic data provided. The speaker also addresses offensive comments made during the meeting and shares the impact of World War II on their family.

01:05:00 In this section, a member of the public urges not to equate voting districts with ghettos and receives applause from the audience. The speaker implies that such an association is both inaccurate and inappropriate. Following the public comments, the council decides to adjourn the hearing to April 13. Only one written comment card was received in support of districting.

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