The official website for Solano County 2021 Redistricting information.

Board Receives 2020 Census Data Update and Approves Resolution for Redistricting Advisory Committee

Mar 9 2021

Solano County

File Number: 21-211

Agenda Date: 03/09/2021 Version: 1 Status: Regular Calendar
In Control: Board of Supervisors File Type: Resolution
Agenda Number: 19

Receive an update on the status of redistricting and Census 2020; Provide direction on components for a Supervisorial Redistricting Advisory Committee; and Consider adoption of a resolution creating the Supervisorial Redistricting Advisory Committee

Published Notice Required? Yes ___ No   X    
Public Hearing Required? Yes ___ No   X    

Departmental Recommendation:

The County Administrator/County Counsel recommends the Board of Supervisors receive an update on the status of redistricting and Census 2020; provide direction on a Supervisorial Redistricting Advisory Committee; and consider adoption of a resolution creating the Supervisorial Redistricting Advisory Committee.

Summary:

Federal and state law require counties to undergo an adjustment to their Supervisorial District boundaries to reflect the outcome of the U.S. Census, conducted every ten years. The 2020 Census information is required to be available on or about April 1, 2021 but will be delayed for 2021. There have been significant changes in federal and state laws governing the 2021 redistricting process that have occurred since the last redistricting which will affect the process and timeline. On February 2, 2021, the Board indicated its support for the formation of an Advisory Committee to assist in the redistricting process and asked staff to return with concepts and recommendations for this. Staff is recommending the adoption of the attached resolution to officially form the Redistricting Advisory Committee and appoint the District representatives no later than April 1, 2021.

Financial Impact:

There is no direct fiscal impact associated with acceptance of the presentation on Supervisorial redistricting requirements and discussion and/or action regarding establishment of the County’s redistricting process. The process itself will involve use of County time and resources to be determined including the cost of outside consultants to assist the Board and staff.

The Board previously approved a County technical group and authorized staff to hire a consultant to assist with the redistricting process. Staff is in the process of evaluating consultants and it is anticipated the cost to be under $75,000.

Discussion:

Background
The U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) is required by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to conduct an accurate count of the population every ten years. Census data is used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and in redistricting of state legislatures, county boards of supervisors and city councils. In 2020, the Bureau conducted the decennial census, extending the deadline for responses through October 15, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon completion of the Census, the County’s self-response rate (those residents who responded without contact from the Bureau) was estimated to be 74.1% and the Bureau estimated that the total California self-response rate was 69.6% of all U.S. residents. According to the Bureau’s website, the Bureau followed up with non-responders through census takers and estimates that 99.9% of the U.S. population was counted between self-response and follow up by the Bureau.

At its February 2, 2021 meeting, the Board was advised that there were going to be significant delays in receiving the census data. Since then, the Bureau has announced that the data will not be released until September 30, 2021 before it is transmitted to each state. Furthermore, the State estimates it could take approximately an additional 30 days to carve out the incarcerated population from the Census data before they will release it, pushing the final release of data to the end of October 2021. Currently, the County must adopt new boundaries no later than December 15, 2021.

The Board approved a Technical Advisory Group at its February 2, 2021 meeting which is comprised of representatives from the Department of Information Technology, including GIS Division and Registrar of Voters; Department of Resource Management Planning Division and County Surveyor; County Counsel; and County Administrator that is working on identifying a consultant, developing a calendar, setting up a website and developing an approach to address public engagement. These will be brought back to the Board at a future meeting as part of the next update.

The State of Ohio has filed a lawsuit at the federal level challenging the US Census Bureau’s decision to push back the release of the 2020 census figures used for redistricting from March 31 to September 30. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to restore the March 31 deadline. In contrast, there is also a bipartisan group of senators that have announced plans to introduce a bill that would keep the September 30 due date in place (by changing the official statutory deadline to Sept. 30th). The outlook for the lawsuit and the legislation are unclear at this point however staff will continue monitoring and provide the Board updates.

Redistricting Requirements
The process for redistricting is heavily regulated by the U.S. and California Constitutions, the Voting Rights Act and Elections Code sections 21500 et seq. These authorities require that districts be based on total population and must have substantially equal population per district. Additionally, these authorities generally prohibit using race as a predominate criteria for redrawing districts or diluting the voting rights of racial or language minority communities to elect representatives of their choice.

New requirements have been added to the California Elections Code that provide that the updated districts must be redrawn using the following criteria, in order of priority:

  1. To the extent practicable, districts must be geographically contiguous;
  2. To the extent practicable, districts must maintain the geographic integrity of neighborhoods and “communities of interest” which are defined as “populations that share common social or economic interests and should be included within a single supervisorial district for purposes of its effective and fair representation”;
  3. To the extent practicable, districts must minimize division of cities or census designated places;
  4. Boundaries must be easily identifiable and, if possible, bound by natural/artificial barriers; and
  5. To the extent practicable, and where it does not conflict with the preceding criteria, districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness.

New State law also requires extensive outreach and opportunity be given for public input, especially for minority and language minority communities. The County is required to hold at least three public hearings or workshops, with the following requirements:

  1. One public hearing/workshop must be held before draft maps are drawn.
  2. Two public hearings/workshops must be held after draft maps are drawn.
  3. One public hearing/workshop must be held on a weekend or after 6pm on a weekday.
  4. All public hearings/workshops must be noticed to the public, accessible to the disabled and must provide live translation if requested 72 hours prior to the hearing/workshop.
  5. The date, time and place of each hearing/workshop must be published online at least 5 days in advance.

In addition, the County must make good faith, demonstrable efforts to engage the public, including underrepresented and non-English speaking communities. This may be demonstrated by providing information via local media organizations, including those serving non-English speaking communities and to local community organizations and agencies, including those active in language minority communities. The County is also required to publish all draft maps, along with specified information regarding the maps at least 7 days prior to their adoption. Throughout the redrawing process, the County must allow the public to submit testimony or their own draft maps in writing and electronically. Finally, the County must record all public comment and Board deliberation regarding proposed maps and maintain such records for a minimum of 10 years.

Formation of Redistricting Advisory Committee
Elections Code section 23002 authorizes the County to prescribe the manner in which members are appointed to the advisory redistricting committee; therefore, the Board has discretion to determine the composition and criteria to select members to the Committee with the one prohibition that it may not include “a person who is an elected official of the [County], or a family member, staff member, or paid campaign staff of an elected official of the [County]”. Due to extremely compacted schedule to conduct the public outreach once the actual census data is distributed, staff is recommending that the main goal of the Redistricting Advisory Committee will be to provide input on “communities of interest”. Staff is further recommending that the Committee be comprised of 10 members with each Supervisor appointing two members from their district. Staff is not recommending the appointment of at-large members due to the time involved in the application and selection of these members. To ensure full representation the Board could consider criteria for appointment by: geographical area; race and ethnicity; age group; senior and disabled; or industry/sector (e.g. environment, agriculture, business, labor/workforce, social justice, non-profit).

Alternatives:

The Board could choose not to adopt the resolution and not form a Redistricting Advisory Committee; however, this would not be consistent with the Board’s previous direction.

Other Agency Information:

The Departments of Resource Management, Information Technology/Registrar of Voters and GIS, and County Counsel were consulted on this item and will be part of the process going forward.

CAO Recommendation:

Approve Departmental Recommendation

Resolution-Adopted.pdf
May 27, 2021
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21-211-Minute-Order.pdf
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